Bringing Politics Alive for High School Students

TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 16, 2008) – The University of South Florida is helping young people gain a better understanding of the election process through Project E.L.E.C.T., which will host Study Day at Freedom High School, Friday, Oct. 17 from 8 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. Kids Voting Tampa Bay is collaborating with the event ( Project E.L.E.C.T. is a partnership between the Tampa Bay Educational Partnership (TBEP) in the USF College of Education and the Hillsborough County School District.

The program is funded by U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools. Former Florida Senator Les Miller, now USF’s director of community relations, will give the keynote address, and there will be a networking session, a general session, and breakout sessions throughout the day along with a number of other notable participants from USF and the community.

Among the speakers is Commissioner Donna Elam, from the Florida Commission on Human Relations. Elam is also a senior researcher with the David C. Anchin Center in the USF College of Education. She will give a presentation titled, Cultural Competence: Critical Issues, Critical Times.

“Cultural Competence is integrated into many of the grants by Hillsborough County School District superintendent, Mary Ellen Elia, to address student achievement,” said Elam. “This is one of many of the grants that the TBEP is collaborating on with the district.”

Project E.L.E.C.T. is based on the premise that exemplary civics education, which includes an understanding of the U.S. Congress and state legislatures, produces knowledgeable adults who can participate in the democratic process with confidence. “Meaningful civic education provides the essential foundation for life in a democracy,” said Michael J. Berson, professor of secondary education in the USF College of Education and the principal investigator for Project E.L.E.C.T. “A major goal of Project E.L.E.C.T. is to actively engage minority students in civic education in order to break the pattern of voter disenfranchisement that currently exists among minority adults in Hillsborough County.”

Lew Friedland, former television news executive producer and now a professor of journalism and mass communication and sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as local educational leader and USF alumnus, Manny Duran, will also give presentations.

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The USF College of Education is ranked 45th by U.S. News & World Report of graduate schools in the country, is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and is fully approved by the Florida Department of Education. The USF College of Education is the seventh largest public college of education in the nation. For more information on the USF College of Education, visit:, or

The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of 39 community-engaged, four-year public universities as designated by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded more than $360 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2007/2008. The university offers 219 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The university has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 46,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.

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