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OPINION: Schools should prepare non-voting youth to effect political change.

<p>Makaylah Butler</p>

Makaylah Butler

This presidential election is one that America will never forget, certainly one that will be notorious in future history textbooks.

Young people who do not see themselves in either the Democratic Party’s or the Republican Party’s candidates are left unable to express their voices, due to lack of awareness of both the political process and of candidates themselves.

In Renaissance High School, students are not adequately taught the political process. We are asked to write papers about issues that we don’t know enough about. Furthermore, even when we have opinions on the issues, we don’t know what we as non-voting youth can do to influence the election.

The school system is failing our generation, because alternative voices are left out of the classroom. It was just two weeks ago that I learned there were third parties in the race! No one told me they were not invited to the debates!

Perhaps part of the problem is that not every school in the U.S. offers a politics course. If schools do not teach the details of the political system, students won’t be able to vote confidently.

The memoir storytelling website Stage of Life found in 2012 that one third of students did not realize that candidates other than Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were in the race.

If our generation has not learned about all people running, we will not know which campaign and future we should vote for.

Teachers need to be able to share everything about politics, including who is running. Students need no restrictions. Give us all the information!

Some ways to implement lessons on the political process would include mock voting, writing legislators, Skyping with candidates, and having seminars with non-mainstreams activists.

The students of America need the opportunity to experience what it is like to vote, know the rules, and know how to set up an election. More young voters would show up if they knew exactly what to do and felt comfortable with whom they were voting.

Finally, media plays a huge role in this. When the media show unimportant stories about the election, e.g. Donald Trump’s hand size and Hillary Clinton’s burrito bowl order, our generation is less equipped to make decisions.

CNN and Fox and other news outlets must give relevant, useful information on political happenings, not sensation. But schools should fill the gap, since mainstream news attempts to capture audiences for viewership and revenue rather than informing.

All of these reasons for lack of awareness must be addressed in schools. Each aspect helps guide this generation to vote smarter. With every smart vote, this generation could move us toward that “hope and change” we lost in 2008.


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