Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/9/2011 (3599 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The focus on the Student Vote project is on the students who are learning about the electoral process, but the teachers are the integral part of whether this exercise in educating kids about democracy works.
You can read the latest story here.
I had a great time the other day in Sandi Wagner’s classroom at Windsor Park Collegiate. She’s a social studies and law teacher whose enthusiasm and passion have infected her students with the same bug that Wagner has obviously caught.
Those students will be knowledgeable voters soon, and they’ll also be educated voters when they turn 18 and have their first ballot in their hand.
But for everything that Student Vote provides, for all the lessons about the democratic process in the provincial curriculum, and even with the vast amount of information the students can gather from following the election through the media, the teacher is crucial.
Teachers have to educate themselves just the same as the students, they have to do their homework, they have to access the sources of information — read the party websites, read the party materials, follow the election in the media.
What you didn’t read in that Student Vote story was what we encountered in another classroom in the city. Maybe I should have taken a cheap shot, maybe it was better to go with the positive things we saw.
In that classroom, the teacher had written the names of Greg Selinger, Hugh McFadyen, and Jon Gerrard on the board, but had spelled all their surnames incorrectly.
The teacher didn’t know what ridings the leaders held when the election started.
The notion behind Student Vote is that students study the candidates in the riding in which the school sits, then conduct their own vote for those candidates.
In this particular classroom, while we were there, the students heard that the riding does not have a Liberal candidate — it does — they heard that Green Party leader James Beddome is running there — he isn’t — and they heard that if Beddome does not win a seat in the legislature, he will have to step down as leader of the Green Party — he doesn’t have to, and likely wouldn’t.
I got another one of those automated phone polls at home, this time from a male robot saying he represented RDA, and that this was the final River Heights riding poll. Yeah, sure.
Anyway, I was given the option of pressing buttons on the phone for each of three candidates, or a fourth button for undecided. Since I didn’t have the option of voting for the Green candidate, I’m pretty sure the Greens weren’t paying for the poll.
I don’t know how they chose our number to call, what kind of phone list they had. There’s no way they can know that the person answering the phone lives in the riding, is a registered voter, or, for all they know, the person answering the phone and pushing buttons could be five years old. There’s no way they can get a wide demographic sample. I had no idea if they knew my name or the name of anyone else in the house, and I had no assurance that any response I made would be treated anonymously, as major polling firms have their human staff tell you when they call.
And now for something completely different, but still on the election.....
I had agreed to moderate the River Heights riding town hall for students at Grant Park High School.
Child the elder’s former law teacher was organizing it.
The teacher finally cancelled the town hall this morning, advising the other candidates that he’d waited too long to receive a response from Liberal candidate Jon Gerrard to a series of emails over several weeks, a response that the teacher says never came. My own email to Gerrard’s press secretary last week brought no response.
The teacher tried to hold the debate Thursday morning for Tory Marty Morantz, New Democrat Dan Manning, and Green Elizabeth May Cameron, but that conflicted with Rosh Hashanah services. The high holiday also affected candidates’ availability for Friday, when I’ll be working all day at the grievance hearing for U of M Prof. Gabor Lukacs.
Originally, he’d wanted to go with the town hall early last week, but hung in there, putting it off while hoping he’d hear back from Gerrard’s camp.