CRF Blog

Getting Students Involved

by Katie Moore

As the mid-term elections draw near, we are reminded of one of our responsibilities as members of a democratic society: voting. Younger people are not eligible to vote. But voting is not the only responsibility of citizenship. Citizens of all ages need to gain the knowledge, build the skills, and develop the dispositions necessary to help our democracy thrive. According to the Civic Mission of Schools Report, school-based civic education is one of the best ways to educate young people about the rights and responsibilities of living in a democratic society. By preparing students to participate, they are much more likely to vote when they are 18.

Anne O’Brien from the Learning First Alliance recently wrote in her Edutopia blog about Montana’s 2009 Teacher of the Year, Sally Broughton, and how Ms. Broughton engaged her students in local policy research and action. Getting students out of their chairs and often out of the classroom help students become effective citizens now rather than waiting until they are of voting age.

As Cesar Chavez said, “We don’t need a perfect political system. We need perfect participation.” That participation includes more than voting. It’s clear that our democratic society is better served when the members are engaged in civic institutions, think critically about public issues, and appreciate the complexity of democracy.