August 28, 2019
Schools were designed to prepare youth to be thoughtful and active participants in democracy. But many schools and educators today are reticent to bring civic and political learning and discussion into their classrooms out of fear of being labeled partisan or politically manipulative. Even before the 2016 election, only 28% of social studies teachers reported that they thought parents would strongly support teaching about elections (Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge, 2013).
It is not surprising then that low youth voter turnout is not new to this generation. Research reveals complex historical, social, economic, and cultural assets and barriers affecting civic participation broadly, and voting specifically. When reached early, however, young people are more likely to engage over time. So how might educators make sense of preparing youth to participate in democracy?
Teachers and scholars from the UC Riverside’s Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) and Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) came together to design an innovative online course for educators to promote informed and equitable voting at this crucial time in American democracy. Within the digital context of rapid news cycles and international influence on elections via social media, it is imperative to prepare youth to make informed voting choices.
The course will focus on trends in youth voting, including the dramatic increase in young people’s participation between 2014 and 2018 midterm elections. Instructors will share key approaches from civic education and voter activation to help participants identify what motivates people to vote, what strategies are most effective at informing voters about issues on the ballot, and how to address inequalities within the youth vote.
Educator participants will explore resources and models that show a range of ways that teachers, schools, and districts can teach about voting and elections in a non-partisan way as well as commit to high-quality civic learning. Participants will then have a chance to identify approaches that will fit in their own context and align with other core priorities.
The course begins September 23 and takes place online. Participants can earn 4 units for completing the course. Course fees are $545 but if you sign up before September 13 you can get a discount on registration. To find out more visit: http://bit.ly/UCRXvoting
Photo/ Edwin Andrade