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“A political classroom is not a partisan classroom.”
– Caroline Blackwell, NAIS Vice President of Equity and Justice

A week from today is Election Day, and this year’s election is one that will likely enjoy some of the highest participation in the democratic process from Americans in recent history. At Roycemore, students have been engaging in discussions about citizenship and researching political platforms of candidates as well as learning about the U.S. Constitution.

Every four years during a presidential election there is a unique opportunity to support students as they aim to make sense of the world around them and the role of the presidency. This year is a particularly noisy one with concerns about potential interference from foreign countries, second amendment rights, a Supreme Court nomination hearing, a state of Illinois ballot issue for a constitutional amendment, and all of this in the midst of a pandemic with tens of thousands of new cases of COVID-19 infections being diagnosed daily across our country. It is a necessary time for conversation and to lean in to courageous, compassionate, respectful, and empathetic dialogue, rather than partisan banter.

Young people across America are more engaged than ever in the political process. We want them to think of themselves as future voters and to be able to assess what makes a good leader and what kinds of leaders they would want to represent them.

I have been proud to see the ways that our teachers are encouraging students to learn about the issues, the candidates, and how to be an engaged citizen. We encourage parents to talk with your children about the political process to foster their engagement as active citizens. Here are some prompts to consider in your conversations with your children:

– What makes a good citizen?
– What makes a good leader? (The Seven Habits might be an appropriate touch point.)
– What qualities are important to you when thinking about who you would want to represent you in government?
– Did you know that even though you may not be able to vote, you can still demonstrate citizenship? (talk about writing to elected officials, becoming informed about issues, making purchasing decisions based on your values, volunteering for a cause you care about, etc.)
– In what ways do you value living in a democratic country?/ What are you thankful for?
– If you had the opportunity to serve in a government position, what position would you want and why?

If you decide to have a conversation like this with your children, please share with us anything that you learned from your children or that surprised you. We’d love to hear from you.

We are so fortunate to live in a democracy where we have the opportunity to participate in how our city, state, and country are governed. I hope you will all join me and vote! Consider taking your child with you to vote so they can observe the process!