Advocating for political involvement
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According to a Census Current Population Survey, only 20 percent of youth voters, age 18-24, cast ballots in 2010, which raised a social concern of the huge disconnected gap between young people and politics. The turnout continues to collapse rapidly from an already very low start.
Studies from the Child Trends Data Bank have shown that the lack of understanding of the political and electoral process has contributed to the declining trend of young voters. They often think that the government and elections are irrelevant to their interests. They are generally afraid to become involved in the political world, which seems too overwhelming and complicated.
Whether this is a valid argument or an excuse, it is still irrefutable that students feel disconnected from the world they live in with their obscure understanding of how our government truly functions.
Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) provides opportunities such as the annual Sacramento Advocacy trip to both increase political awareness within the student body and interest students to contribute their opinions without hesitation. The initial purpose of the trip was to lobby for funding for IUSD; however, it has evolved into focusing on the open exposure of unfamiliar politics to students.
A group of representatives from IUSD schools gather together to consult with politicians to discuss funding possibilities for the district. It has the potential to be frustrating due to the lukewarm process of lobbying with reluctant politicians; the repeated failure to achieve the primary purpose of the program through lobbying has left the team less enthusiastic and unfocused. Yet, the process is not necessarily devastating since the students benefit from exposure to the reality of politics by gaining insight into the operation of our government when passing bills or laws.
Participants of this program said they considered this experience more as an open chance for them to become more attentive to how the education and legal system works.
“I went in not knowing what a great opportunity it would be, but I fell in love with the education policy afterwards. It was such a beautiful experience to be able to speak with everybody who wants us to go out to the real world,“ senior and past participant of Sacramento Advocacy trip Samantha Kosai said.
Providing opportunities for students to travel to Sacramento and gain practical knowledge of the political system is necessary for endowing the next generation with the knowledge to continue a fair democracy. Additionally, students should engage in debates of current political issues, facing our generation before political science classes in senior year. It is very crucial that our government respects the innovative ideas and opinions of the younger generation as we are the future.