THE ISSUE State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s representatives are traveling to high schools to encourage students to get involved in Project Sunlight.
OUR VIEW When students are given the opportunity to participate in government, they may establish a lifelong dedication to civic involvement.
In an age of growth and evolution regarding the way we disseminate news and provide crucial information to the public, one thing remains critical: The people must have access to public information.
Journalists constantly fight for transparency, challenging government officials when they refuse to provide documents the public has a right to see.
It’s an ongoing battle. Many public officials are savvy about hiding behind phrases (“personnel matter” comes to mind) meant to dissuade a reporter from pressing for information. Much time and money is expended in the pursuit of truth. After all, having a say in the way the government operates is what separates a free people from those under the oppression of dictatorship — and access to information is necessary for people to have such a level of involvement.
That’s why we commend the state attorney general’s office for bringing information about a Web site called Project Sunlight to high schools this past week. The initiative was intended to show students how they can access information about legislation and the like and was meant to get them excited about government by demonstrating how technology can bridge the gap between citizens and their elected officials.
Project Sunlight, www.sunlightny.org, provides the public with local municipal information and takes the mystery out of government, said Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s representative, Debra Martin, who was in Rochester to speak to city school children and teachers.
Martin said the initiative to get students excited about government through the portal of technology will be implemented statewide.
Cuomo’s office believes students may be more interested in learning about government and politics in a modern way. They can research topics they are interested in — such as a bill on text messaging while driving — and find out who introduced the measure and how it was funded.
Instead of listening to a teacher lecture on a subject, students can take an active role in their learning. And we all know how young people tend to tune out during a lecture but are likely to get inspired when they have personal interest in a subject.
In order to gather information, we must have the tools to do so. Project Sunlight not only helps bring transparency to government, but it reaches out to the next generation to help ensure they understand how crucial sunlight is to democracy.