CRANFORD - In a recent survey handed out to 72 Cranford High School students, they were asked to answer ten questions regarding local and national politics, which were given to them in a History or English class. The students had to answer the survey based on only their previous knowledge and were not permitted to research answers to any questions. 

While student knowledge of both spheres of politics is limited, the survey data shows that students tend to know less about local politics than national. The survey asked students to name a bill N.J. Governor Murphy recently announced support for. Only 6 out of the 72 surveyed were aware that the bill would allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses. In fact, one student even wrote under the question, “It’s state politics, who cares.”  

Only seven students could name the two US Senators representing New Jersey: Cory Booker and Bob Menendez. Seven students could name only one senator, and of the seven who could name one, all seven were able to name Senator Booker not Senator Menendez. Knowing Booker over Menendez could be attributed to students being better informed about national politics because Senator Booker was a candidate running in the Democratic primary in the 2020 presidential election. Half of the surveyed students could name at least one Democratic Presidential candidate. 

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There are definite limits to what the students knew about national politics on the survey. While almost 35% of students were able to name the country implicated in the impeachment of President Trump (Ukraine), only 25% of students could name who the United States Speaker of the House is. And while 66% of the students knew that the Republican party represents the majority and controls the US Senate, only half of the students knew that the Democratic party controls the House of Representatives. 

AP Government and Politics teacher, Mr. Vito, while unsurprised his non-government students knew little about both local and national politics said, “As citizens, all students should understand the importance of government, how it works, where tax dollars are being spent, and how their rights need to be addressed.” He also expressed that students often misunderstand how important local politics are because they don’t realize the decisions in local government impact their lives.

Survey Questions and Data:

 

Question

Grade 12 AP

Grade 9 Honors

Grad 10 CP

Grad 11 CP

Who is the current Governor of NJ?

13/17- 76%

4/21-19%

12/16-75%

5/18-27%

Who was the previous Governor of NJ?

17/17- 100%

14/21- 66%

15/16-94

10/18-55

Name the United States Representative for the District in which Cranford lies?

3/17-18%

1/21- 5%

1/16-6%

0

Name one of two US Senators representing NJ.

1/17-5%

1/21-4%

3/16-19%

2/18-11%

Name both Senators.

4/17-24%

2/21-9%

1/16-6%

0

The governor just announced he would sign a new bill regarding undocumented immigrants living in New Jersey. What would that bill do?

0

0

1/16-6%

5/18-28%

Name as many Democrats running for President as you can.

3.2

1.3

1.125

1

What foreign country is implicated in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump?

9/17-53%

6/21-28%

6/16-37%

4/18-22%

Which party has the Senate Majority?

12/17-70%

15/21-71%

13/16-81%

8/18-44%

Which party has House Majority?

9/17-53%

8/21-38%

11/16-69%

8/18-44%

Who is the Speaker of the House?

8/17-47%

5/21-24%

1/16-6%

4/18-22%