Our Stories

Kids’ Voices Count: JPDS-NC Election Project 2016

September 22, 2016 by Janet Collier (Faculty and Staff) Naomi Reem (Faculty and Staff)

We are excited to launch Kids’ Voices Count: JPDS-NC Election Project 2016. This schoolwide election project will focus on giving life to the rights and responsibilities of children as social and political actors in the public sphere. Students will be creating a voting guide for adults in our community in which they will give voice to their ideas and opinions and to those of other children. Our students will have the opportunity to tell the adults what they want them to be thinking about when they cast their ballots.

Each grade will focus on an issue connected to their curriculum. With the help of the 6th graders, they will learn about the positions of the major political parties on these issues. They will further research their issue and speak with other children about what they think – speaking with children in other grades, neighborhood friends, relatives, members of their shuls, and, in some cases, children in other DC schools, either in person or through correspondence. In the process, our students will be developing critical thinking, analysis, communication, and advocacy skills they would be developing as part of our regular curriculum along with additional skills and knowledge. The students and teachers are excited about this meaningful learning opportunity.

Now comes the fun part… We Want YOU to Be Part of the Election Project! We need the help of parent volunteers and other community members with this schoolwide project.

  • We need your expertise. If you have knowledge or expertise on any issue our students will be learning about, regardless of whether you have a child in that grade, we would be grateful if you could come in and speak with our students. Learn more by reading the Kids’ Political Issues List. We also need experts on other topics. Students will be developing skills such as interviewing and writing persuasively, and learning about the electoral process including the math behind the Electoral College and polling, as well as Jewish values and teachings that speak to the issues. Please let us know if you can share your expertise on these topics. We also welcome your suggestions!
  • Parents: we need your participation as partners in your child’s education. Whether you share your skills and knowledge with the children at school or whether you help your children at home with opportunities to research and interview others, you too will be sending the message that you value what children have to say and believe in their capacity to have a voice in the world. Thank you for your partnership.

The Importance of Civil Discourse

We believe that children have the right to be informed. They need to learn how to express their opinions, and to know how to make choices, aware of the consequences. They must also be confident that they are being heard. Furthermore, they need to learn how to deal with conflict. In the past, our election project generated much excitement and learning about the electoral process and presidential campaigns. This is a particularly challenging election season, however, and, as a community, we have continued to grow in our thinking about children and learning. If you are struggling with ways in which to talk to and around your children about this year’s presidential election, Teaching Tolerance, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center and an excellent resource for educators, has written a contract called “Speak Up for Civility” that might be useful.

One of our goals at JPDS-NC is prepare our students to be informed, empowered, and engaged citizens. As a community day school in the nation’s capital, we feel an even stronger obligation to model for our students the importance of civil discourse and civic engagement. Join us as we help our children to develop the capacities needed to participate in the public “conversation” and the understanding that it is their right to be a part of that. We invite you to be a part of this important endeavor.