Beginning on March 23rd, students across the country will have the chance to learn about something that many of us take for granted - and not enough of us exercise - our right to vote. Forty years ago, educators and students stood together and fought to lower the voting age to 18. In doing so, they amended the Constitution and empowered millions of American citizens to have a say in our democracy. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the passage of the 26th Amendment, Rock the Vote, in partnership with the National Education Association and SparkAction is announcing the first annual Democracy Day.
Rock the Vote's innovative new curriculum Democracy Class is a 45-minute, non-partisan lesson plan geared towards teenagers that teaches them the history of voting rights, walks them through the voter registration process and engages them in a mock election.FairVote also has developed curriculum that would be very useful to teachers and students: see our Learning Democracy resources.
You can bring Democracy Class to your community in 2011 and make March 23 a day that young adults never forget. The first 500 adult instructors who sign up will receive a free toolkit which includes a lesson plan, video, t-shirts, buttons, a banner for your classroom and a commemorative poster. Rock the Vote is also offering instructors that participate an opportunity to win an iPad and other great prizes.
If you want to sign up, please click here.
As the lowering of the voting age in the US was an important step to facilitate access to democracy, this day must be remembered. But the 26th amendment was only one in a series of steps to improve democracy, and there is still lot more to do. That’s the reason why we must continue proposing reforms. The voter pre-registration that FairVote supports for example, would be a great step toward fair access to democracy if adopted in more states or at the federal level as a national standard.
But fair access is not enough to solve all the problems with our voting system, and for there to be fair participation there is a need for fair information. That’s why developing a learning democracy program for children and adolescents are one of the preoccupations of FairVote. Our learning democracy program (including lessons plans for example), as it is currently developed, is proposing some interesting ideas in order to engage younger children in the issues pertaining to voting rights and democracy in America. A presentation of Henry Milner’s work about these questions will be published soon.