The lessons in the classroom are translating to the polling place immediately. This is the first year in which a 17-year-old Illinoisan may legally cast a vote in the primary if that person will be 18 in time for the general election in November. The executive director of the Illinois Council for the Social Studies, Dean Cantu, says it's a teacher's dream.
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“My hope is that they're going to make an informed decision,” says Cantu. “Many of them are in civics classes as we speak, and so they're talking about those issues. They're getting that well-grounded foundation or understanding of civic life, politics, and government.” Cantu says students from homes where current events are discussed at the dinner table are, obviously, more likely to participate than are kids whose parents don't even know Tuesday is an election day. Cantu's day job is chairman of the teacher education program at Bradley University in Peoria.
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