High school students plan debates for Tempe Union, Kyrene district boards - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

High school students plan debates for Tempe Union, Kyrene district boards

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Posted: Thursday, October 21, 2010 3:17 pm | Updated: 12:20 am, Sat Oct 23, 2010.

It boils down to money.

High school senior Joe Jaeger said that is the key issue facing the candidates running for Tempe Union High School District and Kyrene Elementary School District governing boards.

Jaeger should know. He and his fellow seniors at Mountain Pointe High School in K.R. Scott's government class have spent the last few weeks organizing a debate among candidates running for office.

"Basically, what it boils down to right now is how each candidate will deal with the funding cuts the schools are getting," Jaeger, 17, said. "I think that's going to be the deciding factor in this race."

Scott has guided his government students to organize political debates since 1994 "to give them a real sense about how American politics work and the process by which elections work and get them involved in the community," he said.

The 32 students putting on Tuesday's public event had to schedule the debate, design the stage, select the questions and get the candidates to all agree to a time and place.

That was probably the most difficult task, the students said.

Class leaders Diana Rayes and Elizabeth Corwin, both 17, said the process has given them insight into how serious these candidates are about the races.

"I think that you really just have to be proactive in your community. That was shown a lot though trying to contact the candidates and the fact that they were so busy. Many were campaigning a lot and had set schedules early in the running. Getting to know your community and being proactive is a big part of campaigning for office," Corwin said.

Rayes said until putting together the debate, she didn't realize how much the school board plays a role in her school.

"I never even thought about who has to control the scheduling, the budget cuts, the decisions that have to be made for all students, not just one high school. Hiring teachers, finding new teachers. I'm really interested to see what these candidates have to say about their plans for the future. That will effect our siblings," she said.

The debate is not only a lesson in the political process, but an outreach for the community, Scott said.

"It gets them to realize how the process works and what the issues are and gets them engaged as future adults. As they prepare to graduate we want them to be well prepared adults," he said.

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