As an election-year approaches, we offer strategies to engage students in the democratic process.
With an election-year approaching, the latest issue of the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance magazine examines how educators can inspire a new generation of engaged voters as they teach about the political process.
The issue’s cover story – “The Young and the Registered” – offers strategies that educators can use to teach students about the importance of voting and demonstrate the link between the electoral process and government policy.
Education about voting – including the registration and voting process – is urgently needed. Research shows that when young people vote, they are more likely to vote later in life. But only 41 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted in the 2012 midterm elections. And overall voter turnout in the United States is among the lowest of the world’s democracies.
“When you look at the history of voting rights in this country, young activists were often on the frontlines championing the disenfranchised,” said Maureen Costello, Teaching Tolerance director. “Young people can be very engaged in their communities and a powerful force at the ballot box, but it sometimes takes teachers showing them how voting can affect issues they care about.”
Teaching Tolerance’s free classroom documentary, Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot – which recounts the role of students in the voting rights struggle of the 1960s – also provides educators with a tool to demonstrate the importance of voting. Teachers can order the documentary here.
The magazine also explores the bullying of Muslim students and their Sikh classmates who are often mistaken for Muslims. The article “Extreme Prejudice” shows how educating students about religious extremism and distinguishing between a religion’s mainstream followers and extremists can make a difference for students whose religion has made them a target for bullying.
In other articles, Teaching Tolerance offers strategies to help educators combat burnout, manage stressful issues they encounter on the job, and cope with an unpopular or even unjust decision by the school administration.
Costello also offers a tribute to civil rights icon Julian Bond in her “Perspectives” column. Bond, who died in August, served as the SPLC’s first president and was a friend of Teaching Tolerance who offered his knowledge and insight for a number of projects. He narrated Teaching Tolerance’s Oscar®-winning documentary, A Time for Justice, and most recently contributed his firsthand historical knowledge to its latest film, Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot.
Teaching Tolerance magazine, published three times a year, is the nation’s leading journal serving educators on diversity issues. It is distributed free of charge to more than 410,000 educators nationwide.