Learning By Doing – Political Systems
Teach your children how to work the political system by actively participating with some of the excellent activities and lessons suggested here. Fall 2004 is a good time to do this.
By Ann Zeise
While this page is particularly supportive of Kerry, I also have great non-partisan activities and links for kids who wish to explore the election process, even those in other countries than the USA.
First off, does Kerry support homeschooling? Is he worthy of homeschoolers’ support? From theJohn Kerry Forum, a reply: “Yes he thinks its okay for parents to homeschool their children if they choose to do so.”
We helped a neighbor run for mayor of our little city several years ago. It was great fun. Scott often went canvassing. The politicians love having the kids run up and ring doorbells. If someone answers the door, the candidate walks on up, too, and if not, they save their much older feet!
We also did poll watching at a local Middle School. Scott said something rather telling that I’ll never forget. He said,
“These kids are just reading about the election process, but *I* really know how big a precinct is, cause I’ve walked some! And now here I am poll watching, and they don’t have a clue what we’re really doing!”
From sealing envelopes to running a copier, there are lots of tasks that need young hands. Teens could drive to deliver signs, and the younger kids can steady the sign and hammer it in the ground. Mechanical kids can keep old, donated copiers free of jammed papers. Artistic kids can make posters. Kids who love to talk on the phone can do phone banking.
Here are some other activities you could do this week:
How do you find any Democrat headquarters near you? Google on “[your state] Democratic Party.” If you live in a metropolitan area or a large county, you can use that area, too, in the search. Call the Democratic National Committee headquarters and ask what you can do: 202-863-8000. You can also leave a message at the Kerry Campaign headquarters: 202-712-3000, if the message box isn’t full. Another good resource for local campaigns:
Democracy for America supports common sense candidates who are fiscally responsible and socially progressive. This is Howard Dean’s site for helping win elections for local Democrats.
So you’re shy? Me, too! Learning the skills it takes to give a speech can make it easier to speak out.
Find out how Kerry and Bush differ on the issues.
Activities and Lesson plans
PBS has lots of good ideas for you and your kids!
For help learning about the Electoral System, try the CNN site: America Votes.
To track won electoral votes, track with this electoral vote calculator.
Need to find out the truth? Check out the facts and find out who is telling the truth atFactCheck.org.
Sign up for news from MoveOn.org
Join our network of more than 2,500,000 online activists, one of the most effective and responsive outlets for democratic participation available today.
The Progressive Homeschoolers Action Network unites politically progressive homeschooling families and organizes opportunities for them to shape the politics of our time. Activities include training for effective activism, lobby visits to elected officials and volunteer positions with campaigns.
Poll your support group. Find out why each adult intends to vote at all, and why they choose to vote the way they do. Keep in mind, though, that our ballots are – or should be – a private secret, and some may not wish to tell you. That is OK. Hold a “straw ballot” or “pretend” election.
Like to talk on the phone?
Leave no phone bank behind! They can’t tell how old you are on the phone. Put those cell phone free night and weekends minutes to good use!
Do you listen to national or local call-in shows on the radio? How about on TV? Call them and let them know what you thought of John Kerry’s plan to keep America secure and George Bush’s continuing refusal to admit the truth about his record. Here are some national shows to get you started. (All times are Eastern.)
· Air America (all day): 646-274-2346
· Alan Colmes (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.): 212-301-5900
· Ed Shultz (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.): 701-232-1525
· Bev Smith (7 p.m. to 10 p.m.): 412-325-4197
· Doug Stephen (5 a.m. 10 a.m.): 1-800-510-8255
Most important of all, let your local and state level Democrat officials know that you homeschool! If you are there for their election or re-election campaigns, you can make a difference toward home education policies well into the future.
Learn about the history of the Democratic party.
Teach your teens about satire?
Read this article: To Be Silenced, Or Not to Be: That is the Question by Debi Smith. She is a homeschool parent in Oregon who just wanted to take her kids to meet the candidates. Read about how she was treated by the party representatives of both parties. How does this treatment reflect on their understanding of the freedom of speech quaranteed by the Constitution?
Parental Guidance suggested for this site. In spite of its name and URL, this is NOT the White House website! White House for Kids.
Got music and satire lovers in your household? The entertainers, The Capitol Steps, always have some lyrics that hit current events. Again, parental guidance suggested. This troop does live shows, so see them when they perform near you. Or learn this song: (Didn’t Know I Was) UnAmerican.
Got a PC and want to pretend you are in control of a campaign? Send for The Political Machine™ Spend 41 weeks on the campaign trail, serving as a campaign manager for a presidential candidate. In an effort to secure a spot in the Oval Office, you must secure the greatest number of electoral votes and utilize the various facets of political strategy. Review of this game.
With an ordinary deck of cards, Robert Krampf will help you understand how polls work. Many homeschoolers love his list for getting a new science activity each week.
Why is it unusual that these people have decided to vote for Kerry?
- John Eisenhower
- Editors of Bush’s Hometown Paper
- Dr. T. Berry Brazelton & Ron Reagan
- Robert L. Black, retired judge
Watch the Presidential debates September 30, October 8 and October 13, and the Vice Presidential debate October 5. Check your local viewing schedule. Invite homeschool friends over to watch it with you. Listen, perhaps record the debates, but talk about them after, not during.
In Presidential Debates, a Duel of Wits and Styles
By R. W. APPLE Jr., 09/21/04
This page has some interesting points and gives you ideas of what to watch for.
National and local news organizations will be conducting online polls during and after the debate asking for readers’ opinions. Look for online polls at these national news websites, and make sure to vote in every one of them. Now that the debates are over, read your local papers, and keep current.
· ABC News
· CBS News
· Fox News
· LA Times
· USA Today