On Wednesday, August 17th, the Arsalyn Program and the Constitutional Rights Foundation sponsored a training seminar entitled “Closing the Civic Achievement Gap – Preparing ALL Students for College, Career, and Citizenship.”
We invited dedicated middle and high school teachers to join us in discovering ways to engage students actively in the social studies.
The event included sessions on how to move Civics education beyond the classroom and use the school campus and community as places of learning. The event took place from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy at 111 N. Central Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012.
Participating teachers received a stipend of $100.00 for their attendance.
For the last three Presidential elections we have seen an increase in youth voter turnout and nearly 2 million more young people voted in 2008 than in 2004. The percentage of turnout among young people in 2008 was 51.1%, the third highest since the voting age was lowered to 18. Many predict that this marks an end to the declining trend of young voter turnout, but we shouldn’t be so quick to think the battle to increase youth civic engagement is over.
In 2008 51.1% of voters ages 18-29 came to the polls, but this is almost 10 percentage points lower than the population at large who participated at 61%. The last time youth turned out in similar numbers to 2008 was 1992, when 52% of young voters went to the polls. But then in 1996 we saw a 12.6% drop in youth participation in the voting process. 1992 was an exciting election year, but it was followed by the largest single drop in young voter participation.
Let’s not let 2012 become 1996. Let’s not have a 12% drop in young voter participation. By helping students gain a deeper understanding of the impact voting has on policy and engaging them in affecting positive change in their schools, communities, and their lives, we can ensure that this time it really will be an end to the declining trend of young voter turnout.