Kids learn how politics really works - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Kids learn how politics really works

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Posted: Sunday, October 31, 2004 7:14 am | Updated: 5:58 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Pinnacle High School is introducing students to one of the most fundamental principles of democracy. Specifically, money is power.

Students have been "voting" for President Bush and Sen. John Kerry by stuffing cash into two-liter soda bottles in the school’s 12 social studies classrooms for the past week.

One bottle in each room is labeled "Bush," another "Kerry." The candidates’ campaign funding coffers will be counted Tuesday, and the candidate with the most loot will be declared the winner.

The core civics lesson is buying an election.

"Oh no, don’t say that!" said Kayce Sanchez, chairwoman of the school’s social studies department. "I was wondering what your take on this was going to be. This is making me really nervous."

Nervous, schmervous. Kids, pay close attention. The soda bottle election is exactly how it works in real life. The candidate with the most dough wins nearly every single time.

"Oh, no! Tell me, are you an editorialist?" Sanchez asked.

Nah. A columnist.

"OK, now I’m starting to get worried," she said.

Oh, no worries at all. Kids, stuffing money into soda bottles is an extremely practical way to learn about our system of government. Vote early. Vote often.

"Let’s change this!" Sanchez said.

Change it? Why do that? Elections have worked this way for more than 200 years.

"Ahhh! We’re not buying the election," she said. The soda bottle voting really is a fund-raiser. All the money from both Bush’s and Kerry’s bottles will be pooled and used to fund Pinnacle’s speech and debate club.

In addition, teachers at the Paradise Valley Unified School District school have made extensive preparations for elections-related lessons.

"As a social studies department, we’ve put together a series of lesson plans that we’re going to do with all of our students, and it goes through the entire election process," Sanchez said.

First, they’ll introduce the political party system. Then, they’ll discuss each party’s platform and ask the students to consider which party they would join.

Next, they’ll present the propositions on the ballot. Following that, they’ll explain the Electoral College system of voting and watch a videotape of the Bush-Kerry debate that was held in Tempe on Oct. 13.

Finally, they’ll encourage students to vote in a mock election.

Classes will represent different states, so the balloting will be counted two ways — popular vote totals and Electoral College vote totals.

The school has more than 1,800 students and eligible mock voters, and many of them have been watching realworld politics closely. "They really do care, and they are so knowledgeable," Sanchez said.

Oh, what do they know? Kids, here’s some insight for you. Vote for Cherry Coke.

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