Sunday, November 6, 2016

An Election Unfit for Public School

    As a teacher of Audio, Video, Film production who manages a live, daily student produced newscast, I follow the news more than most people.  I’m prepared to discuss with students a variety of current events, but I can’t say much about this election.

    I organized my county’s first live daily student produced newscast in 1990.  Since 1992, my newscast students have reported on six U.S. Presidential elections to the rest of the students in their schools.  Elections are a time of great learning about our democracy.  For years, I’ve assigned my students to research candidates, contests, and the issues of the day.

    In the years following the 1980’s FCC changes to Equal Time and Fairness, I’ve seen political contests become more partisan.  The 2012 contest between Obama and Romney created more tension between students than I had ever seen, but yet, that energy could be focused into amazing student productivity,

    How I miss the good ole days.  In all these six prior elections, no one doubted the process.  Everyone believed in democracy.  That democracy belonged to everyone, even the students, whom although they could not vote, could read, research, and become informed.  It is the belief in the system that makes America great.

    Now, things have changed.  My students can’t report this election on our live, daily morning newscast.  In your mind, review all the content presented this election season.  Now try to filter that for an 11-year old.  Good luck.  As I teacher, I can’t assign my high school students to read news that easily links to news about…inappropriate material.  On any given day at school, should we discuss…you know…that…or the other things?  So this year, my newscast students have been mute on the election.  However, this is not by my instructional decree.  Instead, my high school seniors look at me and say, “I can’t talk about this on the show.”  My 17 and 18 year old students know better.

    However, I’ve heard some of the middle schoolers quoting, “it’s rigged”. 

    This election of 2016 will happen on Tuesday November 8th, but I am concerned it will have long lasting effects.  What if other teachers nationwide are avoiding the election?  If young people grow up thinking, “it’s rigged”, what actions will they take?  In 2032, my current 11-year old students will be 27.  Will the election of 2032 begin the Age of Cynicism?