Connecting a new class and a new election season makes for great discussion on the mind behind the future of the world. In its second year of launch, Ms. Scott’s AP U.S. Government and Politics class is on a roll - whether they’re discussing the founding of our country or debating modern issues they are passionate about, this class offers something relevant to every single student.
Without doubt, the gubernatorial election has been a hot topic in this class, its relevance being brought up nearly every day. Most adult Americans don’t know enough about the politics that affect our day-to-day lives, so it’s amazing to see how much the young voters and leaders of the world know.
When asked how taking AP Government and Politics is beneficial especially in a time where the nation is so divided by politics, Ms. Scott said, “We need to come back together politically because the divisiveness doesn’t produce results for us. A step in that process is understanding how government works and how to become an active and informed citizen who participates regularly in the political process. We need to learn that listening to each other and finding common ground is the basis of a functioning government.”
To educate themselves from here on out as they begin to register to vote, the AP GOPO students familiarized themselves with the format of the ballot - not only the candidates that would be running, but especially the two ballot questions included with every election. This time around, both referendums were important to the students: one being adding an amendment to an environmental protection law and the other to provide bonds to public libraries across the state.
With the last governor having the lowest approval rating, students in AP Government came to a consensus that this election would be an important one. But besides their beliefs, local politics is important. National politics always takes center stage, yet our state and local politics illustrates the issues that are close to home and affect us more directly.
Local elections have the “my vote doesn’t count” stigma surrounding it - but in fact, in these smaller elections, your vote counts more. The mentality in the past few years has been to heavily consider the presidential elections but discount state and local elections as being important in our lives. Comprised of juniors and seniors, if the laws and officeholders aren’t affecting them already, they sure will soon after they exit high school. It’s amazing to see students, some of whom cannot even vote, looking deeply into the candidates and the issues surrounding this election. It’s more than a class requirement - Ms. Scott agrees that the students go above and beyond in their research.
If they were voting, the students would consider these important issues, just as much as adults do: where taxpayer money is going, tax reform, quality education, and environmental reform.
During discussion, senior Serena Calafati says, “I feel like if I wasn’t in this class, I wouldn’t be aware of the issues.” Ms. Scott retaliates with, “even with all the lawn signs?” “Yeah,” Serena began, “it’s so strange. We’re driving, you know, we’re on the go. And there’s fewer ads in general - but for the presidential race, it’s everywhere.”
How do we stop ignorance in politics? Students in AP Government and Politics are there because they want to be - but should civics be taught from a young age and made mandatory through the years? We learn United States history various times - in elementary school, in 8th grade, 10th and 11th grade. But when do we learn civics? In 7th grade … then the rest is up to you. These students believe civics should be taught from a young age: being taught to what voting is, going into the Constitution, and following up with it throughout high school as it becomes more relevant.
Signing off, voting for the first time today! Will you be doing the same?
The Oracle is the Sparta High School newspaper, with article and features written and edited by Sparta High School students.
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