Thursday, December 22, 2011

Convention to provide teaching moment

With the convention coming in September, local schools hope to bring civics lessons to life.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Humanities Department, along with Junior Achievement of the Central Carolinas, plan to launch a "DNC Project" next fall.

A recent administration report to school board members said the nonpartisan effort "will provide students with the academic competencies required for the state’s essential standards for civics, economics and social studies."

"Students will demonstrate knowledge of the political system in the United States, including the history of election processes and party conventions; the structure and process of local, state and federal government; and the role political parties, lobbyists and interest groups play in elections, legislation and governance."

The convention-as-classroom idea will extend to college and university students, too. Next year, they’ll have access to special for-credit classes inspired by the convention.

UNC Charlotte is touting the "49er Democracy Experience" – an effort still in the works that will bring together students and faculty from local higher education institutions. Schools include Catawba College, Davidson College, Johnson C. Smith University, Queens University of Charlotte, Winthrop University and others, according to UNC Charlotte spokesman John Bland.

The effort has a special website:

Look for classes hitting a range of subjects, from leadership to economics, communications to anthropology, social issues and service, Bland said. The initiative is nonpartisan. Students interested in the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., in August will learn of opportunities to be involved in that, Bland said.

"There’s not much more exciting in civic life than the buzz created by a presidential election," Joan Lorden, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, said on the website.