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Teach youths about local government, mayor says

Schoolchildren know who their president is and they probably know who their governor is, but chances are they have no idea who their mayor is, said Dunedin Mayor Manuel Koutsourais.

He wants to change that.

Koutsourais will ask the City Commission tonight to consider spearheading an effort to make local government a required subject in schools.

"Local government affects them on a daily basis more than any other" government, Koutsourais said Wednesday. Yet local government is what schoolchildren tend to know the least about, he said.

Koutsourais said people drive on the city's streets and play in city parks, yet they know little about how they get built and where the money comes from.

He knows that, he said, because he was taught little about city government in school and had to learn much on his own, even after he became a city commissioner.

"I feel strongly that an educational system of some sort is necessary to educate these youngsters and to familiarize them as to how municipal government works," he said.

Koutsourais said the Florida League of Cities, with the help of the local Mayors Council, is providing a set of books on local government to school libraries. But that isn't enough. Koutsourais said it should be a significant part of the curriculum.

If the majority of the commission agrees with him, Koutsourais hopes to lobby other municipalities to pass similar resolutions and talk to the Florida League of Cities about lobbying the Legislature to make local government a required part of school curriculum.