Dear Editor – Students and Elections

Dear Editor,

I am a government teacher at the high school, and in that capacity I want to clear up what I believe is a misunderstanding about the role of students in the school board campaigns.

In the interests of full disclosure, I am a supporting member of the Goldberg campaign, and as an 18-year-old, I was an enthusiastic supporter of Robert Kennedy.

Students at the high school must do two hours of campaign work for their government class. That has been a requirement for probably 20 years. They also have to attend a School Board meeting and a City Council meeting. When they sign up to volunteer for a campaign, sometimes they don’t know the candidate very well. Which may explain why some students at the League Forum on Tuesday 10/18 may not have been aware of the various candidates; they were there to learn. Other students are strong supporters of one or more of the candidates, and know very well who they are and what they stand for. After the forums, Mr. Zeidman sometimes takes his student volunteers to Denny’s for debriefing. Usually when students do phone-calling for any candidate, they are given pizza not as a bribe but as a consideration for their work.

Students are given this assignment so that they may learn about campaign work, get experience actually doing it rather than just learning about it in a book. Perhaps this will lead to a life-long interest in their communities, the political issues of the day and a sense of civic responsibility. It worked for me. As a teacher, I am very careful not to encourage or discourage them from working on anyone’s campaign. They are quite smart and usually can sort out for themselves who’s what. Trust them. They are not going to be bought by a meal at Denny’s or a slice of pizza.

I believe this is a misunderstanding and a non-issue, and now, as we are facing the real challenges of constantly doing more with fewer resources, we should get back to what is important. Thank you.

Genevieve Gilbert-Rolfe
Educator
Culver City High School

Ting Internet is in Culver City!

2 Comments

  1. Thank you for explaining the requirement because it is best coming from a teacher. The US Government class requirements have been in place for decades. In my experience, the students select their meetings and campaigns; they have options and are not directed by their teachers. Students also have community service hours which in the past could be fulfilled by working on nonpartisan campaigns.

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