In search of a good civics lesson


I still remember casting a pretend ballot for the Reagan-Mondale presidential election in 1984. I was in first grade, and Sr. Mary Grace set up a kid-sized voting booth — which, I suspect, served as a precise poll for how our parents voted.

I won’t tell you which box I checked (secret ballot), but the experience clearly left an impression.

Now that the California primary might matter more than it used to, what are teachers and schools doing to bring the process to life? Are there discussions about the issues raised (or not raised) in the debates? The pros and cons of the Iowa Caucus and the Electoral College? Campaign financing? Holes in the media coverage?

If I get some interesting tips, I’ll be sure to write a story about it. Better yet, if you’re planning a class discussion or project on the presidential election (and you’re brave enough to let a reporter into your classroom), let me know.

images from a poster contest at kidsvotingusa.org

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • hills parent

    I am also interested in seeing how many of our schools do not follow ed code and practice a patriotic observance, such as the pledge of allegiance. Until very recently my own hills school did not even know that it was ed code
    and practiced no observance.

  • http://lwvoakland.org Helen Hutchison

    I just spent a day at Mandela High School (Fremont HS), in Patricia Arabia’s classroom. If you want a GREAT civics lesson – I suggest you go there. I was there answering questions about the issues on the Feb. 5 ballot. The students are engaged in this election – and had great questions.

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