The Founders of NSPME
Rooted in Education: the Founding of the National Student/Parent Mock Election
Gloria Kirshner and Edward Stanley made a prolific pair in the 1960s: the two created “Exploring” on NBC, a nationwide broadcast of elementary school curriculum in language arts, social studies, math and science.
“Exploring” was a hit: over 600,000 teachers asked for the series’ Teachers Guide. Stanley, Director of Public Affairs for NBC, and Kirshner, an educational consultant, knew they had something substantial.
But the two quickly noticed that social studies teachers, especially those attempting to teach civics and government, were direly unprepared. In fact, coaches and math teachers were taking on civics courses at the middle and high school levels.
Kirshner and Stanley both realized these poorly prepared children – and their children’s children -- would soon determine the destiny of the world’s longest lasting democracy. Their inferior education about democracy could very well threaten our political system’s integrity.
“Enlighten the people generally,” Thomas Jefferson wrote, “and tyranny and oppression of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.” Stanley and Kirshner were inspired by this quote and spent 10 years seeking a solution.
Eventually, the two connected with such legendary education leaders as Dr. Benjamin Bloom, Dr. Lawrence Kohlberg, and Dr. Arthur W. Foshay. The experts helped Kirshner and Stanley develop a project titled the NBC Parent Participation TV Workshop Project.
The first-ever National Student/Parent Mock Election (NSPME) in 1980, as part of this project, had students and parents in 30 states casting votes.
By 1984, 2 million were participating; by 1988, 5 million. In 2014, a midterm election year, the NSPME expects to involve 1-2 million and by 2016 participation is expected to reach 5 million people.