Voting is part of your education

Dear Students,

Horace Mann wants you to vote.

It’s a point of pride for Framingham State – recalled at commencement, convocation and innumerable other campus-wide events – that we can trace our origins to Mann. As secretary to the Massachusetts Board of Education, Mann spearheaded the founding of the Lexington Normal School in 1839. Along with its sister colleges, the school that became Framingham State was charged with training enough teachers that the commonwealth could provide universal education to the children of the commonwealth.

As a presidential election approaches, it’s useful for us to remember that Mann saw his reforms to the education system not as a means to prepare young people for jobs (in that era most would work in agricultural labor), but rather because he believed that education was the key to a fully functioning republic, and that all citizens (though at that point he only meant men) should have a basic level of education in order to facilitate their participation in society.

Civic education, in other words, was the necessary precondition for engaged citizenship. In his twelfth annual report as secretary, Mann wrote that people “must, if citizens of a Republic, understand something of the true nature and functions of the government under which they live.” The venue to pursue that, he argued, was through common schools (what today is the K-12 system), supported by higher education. The responsibilities of citizenship are high, and demand attention, focus and intellectual engagement.

In Massachusetts, the deadline to register to vote is Wednesday, Oct. 19. If you have not yet registered, you can do so online through the website of the secretary of the commonwealth:

If you won’t be able to vote in your hometown on Election Day, you can request an absentee ballot by visiting this site:

Whatever your political leanings in terms of the presidential election, Congress, local elections, and statewide ballot issues, get educated and vote. Don’t let Horace down.

Joseph M. Adelman, History

Susan Dargan, Dean, Social and
Behavioral Sciences

Jerusha Nelson-Peterman, Food and Nutrition

Deborah McMakin, Psychology and Philosophy

Patricia Sánchez-Connally, Sociology 

Ira Silver, Sociology

The authors are members of the Civic Learning Engagement and Outreach Initiative, a university-wide effort to encourage and increase opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to participate in civic life.