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Media Strategy: Getting the Free Press to Teach Civics

By Andrew J. Rotherham

This week we celebrate the sacrifices, risks, and achievements our founding fathers undertook so that we could skip work, drink beer, and set off fireworks. Actually, we don’t dishonor their memory by the way we spend the Fourth of July. We dishonor them all year long because of the sorry state of civics education in this country. Most Americans are alarmingly unfamiliar with the institutions our founders created, how they operate and what they are supposed to do. Don’t know much about Congress or the Bill of Rights? Civic ignorance is never a good thing, but it’s especially troubling as the country wrestles with fundamental questions about the role of government in our lives…

…newspapers and broadcast networks are sitting on a trove of material that can be converted into curriculum and sold — yes, sold — for use in our nation’s schools and universities. Digitizing these so-called rough drafts of history would not only bring to life many of the events and ideas that students (and adults) should understand as informed citizens, but would help a struggling industry expand its revenue sources.

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