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Making Civics Real Workshop 2: Electoral Politics  
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Workshop 2

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Teacher Perspectives
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Teacher Perspectives: Civic involvement

Jose Velazquez: I think our first social studies course in the ninth grade should be some form of introduction to civics, some form of project that forces the students to become active in their community. The issue is not whether they are eligible to vote. The issue is can they be active participants in a society. They can do that in elementary or middle school, and they can definitely do it in the ninth grade. We don’t want to be a humanities school in the abstract. We want to be a humanities school where students go beyond the walls of this institution and become participants in their community. By the time they become seniors, it should already be established that they are going to be agents of change. It shouldn’t be a matter of trying to convince someone who is 18 years old that they need to participate in their community.

We believe that young people need to have their voices heard in this campaign, and the students have been working to be able to articulate what they think are issues for young people that a mayoral candidate would have to address. Young people need to be part of the political process in the city. Young people are the future of the city and yet they are not an important factor in deciding a political campaign [partly because they] are not discussing what they feel are the issues, or they feel that people don’t listen to what the issues are.

Some of [these students] actually will vote in this campaign. It’s important for the students to know that [voting is] a lifelong process. We are hoping that this kind of involvement will spread throughout young people and throughout the city. Hopefully the influence that students have on their families and in the city can come out of this project also.


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