By Jill Fox
Believing that everyone should understand how government works, teacher Jeff Foster is making sure of that with his new book, released on September 1.
For the past 19 years, Foster has taught AP Government at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Now, he is pursuing another goal by authoring, “For Which it Stands: How Our Government Works and Why It Matters.”
The book answers questions about the Constitution, the different branches of the government, the Electoral College as well as the different responsibilities of the city, state, and federal governments, and does it in a way that’s fun and easy for children to understand.
“I always felt like I had a good nonpartisan voice, and I think one of the skills I have as a teacher is not only being able to relate directly to the kids but impart knowledge on them to where they’re looking at things from all sides,” said Foster, “and that’s sort of what you get with the book.”
In addition to focusing on government: its origins, how it works, and how to bring about change, Foster shows how children can get involved.
A Coral Springs native, Foster attended J.P. Taravella High School and then graduated from Florida State University. But, it wasn’t until discovering a 9 to 5 job wasn’t for him, that he decided to try his hand at teaching. He went back to school to earn his master’s degree in education, and in his mid-20s, after substituting at Coral Springs High School, Foster was hired to teach social studies at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
As an Advanced Placement Government teacher since 2001, Foster became well-known through his involvement after the February 14, 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas. During this time, he was instrumental in organizing meetings, trips to Tallahassee, and Washington, D.C. — which is how the book originated.
When Scholastic reached out to Foster about writing a book, he produced an outline in 24 hours.
Although he has taught 120 government classes throughout the years, he had never written a book, especially on this level — for the late elementary to ninth grade age group.
“One of the critical things for me for understanding how to write to this audience was using my daughters, Lilly, 13 and Lucy, 8.”
Foster said his kids witnessed the MSD marches and their father’s involvement. His children were immersed in it, and getting his book into as many children’s hands as possible appealed to him.
For Which it Stands is not as in-depth as advanced placement curriculum. The book is more about the nuts and bolts of political government. Foster wanted everyone to be able to understand it in a more manageable format.
As far as the impact from the coronavirus pandemic, Foster said promotion for the book had been halted.
“The pandemic has shifted everyone’s focus for obvious reasons,” he said, “The sales aren’t what matters to me, I just want the kids to have something to help them participate in politics, whether as simple as voting or as difficult as running for office.”
The goal was for the book to come out before the election because it talks about inspiring children to do things and shows examples of how they can contribute.
He said it’s not just about joining an interest group or running for office necessarily, but small things people can do, like writing a letter or holding a sign.
“Being from MSD and around so many amazing kids, especially these last few years, and knowing what these kids have gone through, I know a lot of them are planning on getting into politics, and I can’t wait to support them,” he said.
Nothing makes Foster happier than at graduation, which was a little different this year.
He said he loves hearing students say they had never thought about pursuing politics before, but now they’re considering it as a major, a minor or hoping to run for office in college.
The book is available now on Amazon and at all major book retailers.
Foster said, “I’m beyond satisfied with what it looks like, and I can’t wait for people to get ahold of it and hopefully inspire them to participate in the political process in America.”
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- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked on the public relations side as well as the television side of marketing for NBC Universal. A true Floridian, Fox grew up in Ormond Beach and now resides in Parkland with her husband, Brian and their two children, Madden, 11 and Randi, 7.
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