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View Diary: Why Don't People My Age Vote? (140 comments)

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  •  I taught high school government. (2+ / 0-)
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    Brooke In Seattle, evergreen2

    I could write a whole diary on why it is taught the way it is. But I'll try to keep this short:

    1.  It is necessary to understand how the system works. I found that the majority of my students and their parents thought that the president makes laws. If you don't know what Congress does, you don't understand that your representatives and senators work for you or that you can and should make them aware of your views on legislation. Perhaps you, being politically involved, take that information for granted. But people who do not have it cannot truly learn how to be involved in government.

    2. Teachers avoid engaging students in current issues because it makes their life hell. Any discussion is fraught with potential accusations from parents and often school administrators of bias and of attempting to "indoctrinate" students. And those accusations come from people on both sides of the political spectrum. I was accused of maligning a student's family during the 2008 primary season when another student suggested in a discussion that Fred Thompson's very much younger wife and small children was not a picture that would sit well with certain family values voters--the student who was offended had a 20 year old step-mother. I was accused by an angry set of GOP parents of rigging polling in Minnesota in the fall of 2008 when that state's polls swung blue on the website 270 to Win that my government students and I were following. When I showed the convention speeches in class that year, I was accused of favoring Obama because I showed his speech before I showed McCain's. (You might recall that the DNC was held first eyeroll). And that is just three incidents from ONE election. Having taught social sciences through four presidential elections, I have more examples than this, including many in which I was accused of being biased toward the GOP as well. There was not a single case in which an administrator supported me (including the "bias" of showing footage of the 2008 DNC before the RNC), and in 2008, I was actually told that perhaps students should not be discussing current events.

    Teachers' hands get tied. It is not teaching methodology or testing mania that leads them to avoid these discussions. It is self-preservation.

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