2006-03-15 / Features

4th Grade Voting Rights-Citizenship Curriculum Published

In a city where less than 40 percent of registered voters cast their ballot in the mayoral election, the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives has developed a curriculum that teaches fourth grade students a lesson on the importance of voting.

"Kids do not know that much about voting," Lisa Sita, associate project director who was instrumental in developing the local history curriculum, said. "The idea is to get them thinking and learning about it so that they will have an interest."

The six-lesson curriculum begins with a historical overview of local politics in the 1880s during the notorious Tammany Hall reign and Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia's battle against the corrupt political machine. It goes on to look at his time in office and success in improving the lives of New Yorkers.

"The lesson that we wish to convey to these future voters is that their vote allows them to have a say in who governs," Dr. Richard K. Lieberman, director of the archives, said, "and that the people we put in office are responsible for making decisions that affect them."

To show youngsters the importance and power of the vote, several lessons are devoted to the struggles women and African-Americans endured for the right to vote. "We want to raise the children's consciousness and make them aware that, not too long ago, women and African-Americans could not vote."

In Joe Brincat's class at P.S. 99 in Long Island City, his fourth grade students were busy finding answers to questions that were found in a 1941 Daily News cartoon illustrating LaGuardia's service record. "The voting curriculum is a valuable tool to use in the classroom. It provides the classroom teacher with an excellent source of document-based questions relevant to the fourth grade social studies curriculum. And it is great practice material for the fifth grade standardized social studies test."

Since it was published, 10,000 copies of the curriculum have been distributed, upon request, to schools throughout the five boroughs, and another 10,000 are being published.

Fourth grade teachers can visit www.laguardiawagnerarchive. lagcc.cuny.edu and click on "Fourth Grade" to view the curriculum and teacher's guide. Seventh/eighth and 11th grade teachers can visit www.cuny.edu/votingcurriculum.

For those interested in a printed copy, call the archives at 718-482-5065 for details.

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