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U.S. Senate race: social studies teacher wants to take democracy back to its roots

US Senate candidate Ralph JaffeUS Senate candidate Ralph JaffeTimonium, Feb.12.─ In 1968, the country’s culture wars pitted a rebellious young generation against the values of their parents. The rift was fodder for Ralph Jaffe, a social studies teacher at Ridgely Middle School in Timonium, to take his ninth-grade students through an experiment in participatory democracy.

They would spend all of their time in class trying to pass a bill through Congress to help create a rapport between the embittered generations.

Students lobbied Maryland’s then-2nd District Rep. Clarence Long, who later introduced a bill. A word-of-mouth campaign began for students outside the class to write their representatives. Students called members of the House Appropriations Committee to make their case.

In September 1969, nearly 11 months after their experiment began, President Richard Nixon signed into law National Adult/Youth Communication Week, which is every Sept. 28 through Oct. 4. People of different generations are encouraged to share and discuss ideas to build mutual trust.

Jaffe, 74, now retired and living in Pikesville, is one of several Democratic candidates this year for U.S. Senate. His opponents are U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards, Lih Young, Ed Tinus, Blaine Taylor, Violet Staley, Charles U. Smith, Theresa C. Scaldaferri and Fred Donald Dickson Jr.

Jaffe said his experiment proved that money and glad-handing in politics are unnecessary and corrupt a democracy ...

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