Student Vote BC 2017

Student Vote provides elementary and high school students with a chance to experience an election.

Understanding democratic decision making starts for my class every September where we discuss how decisions can be made and how they would like to make decisions in the classroom. Of course they are parameters.

  • Class decisions cannot negatively impact anyone in the class.
  • Class decisions must always be respectfully made.
  • Class decisions cannot have a negative impact on either the social or learning situation in the classroom.

We start out discussing how we can make decisions:

      • Dictatorship (I get to make all of the decisions)
      • Consensus
      • Democratic
          • Plurality/First past the post
          • Majority
              • Majority (single vote and if no majority the decision dies)
              • Majority by removing the lowest number and voting until you make a decision that is made by 50% +1

The class chooses, by consensus, one of these ways to make decisions and then we agree that we can always change the process later. 

We set up Class Meetings where people can put items on the agenda and the class can make decisions about them. An example is sitting arrangements in the class. I have told them that I am prepared to let them organize how their sitting arrangements are determined (size of groups, rows, tables, desks etc).

In this way making democratic decisions becomes second nature to them.

In the fall we followed the American election and studied the Electoral College system of electing Presidents, and contrasted that with our current First Past the Post system.

I have had my classes participate in elections since the 1983 Provincial Election and I have been participating in Student Vote since the early 2000s.  Last Federal Election  (2015) my class was part of a video produced by CIVIX reflecting on the Federal Election and the voting process.

Over the course of the 6 weeks since Spring Break my class has been focused on once again on understanding democratic decision making, the different levels of government and what their responsibilities are and particularly on the BC Provincial election and Student Vote BC 2017.

Over those 6 weeks my students have had to:

  • participate in weekly polling,

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  • Develop an understanding of the election issues by setting up a table to contrast the different political parties positions on 2 issues of the students choosing,
  • Prepare an election ad for either one of the political parties or promoting the vote
  • Develop a traditional paper poster or a digital meme for either one of the political parties or promoting the vote.
  • They have had to organize themselves in groups and present to the class on a specific issue that is important to them.

They presented on:

  • Pollution
  • Minimum Wage
  • Childcare
  • Education
  • Homelessness
  • Housing
  • Bridge Tolls

The expectation was that they presented the information on the issues from the 3 major political parties Liberal, NDP and Green and since we are in the riding of Surrey-Guildford they could also include Christian Heritage Party, if they wanted.

Tomorrow is Student Vote day and our school will be voting Grade 3 – 7. Our votes will be tallied and sent to CIVIX and will be released at 8pm Tuesday, May 9, just after the polls close.

I have included a series of examples of the work that they produced.  I am incduing their video ads on Facebook.

Author: Michael Ewen

Husband, Parent, Grandparent, Dog Owner, Public School Teacher, Public School Trustee

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