Democracy Project Engages Students in Election Issues

For most people below the voting age, the electoral process is a
thing of the distant future. But in California, student reporters
are hot on the election beat to interview candidates about issues
affecting students’ lives. Eight student reporters will cover the
YouthVote 2000 Pre-California Primary Youth Conference at UCLA,
March 4-5, where they will interview presidential candidates about
issues students care about, including federal aid for college
tuition and school reform. The interviews will culminate in a live
webcast from the event on March 4, 5 and 6, the day before Super
Tuesday. The ‘Student Election Report’ is part of the Democracy
Project, a collaborative four-week sequence of in-class and online
activities sponsored by, a K-12 educational services
web site.

The project offers a student journalism contest, online debates,
an online student newspaper and lesson plans to generate student
research dealing with presidential campaign issues, such as freedom
of speech as it relates to school dress codes and school prayer.
Victoria Costello, managing editor of, said the
project not only teaches basic history and civics curriculum but
‘wakes up’ future voters to the democratic process. ‘We are seeing
(democracy) happen before our eyes. The project is an incredible
learning experience for the students. They begin to feel entitled
to ask questions.’

A web cast preview with candidate Sen. Bill Bradley took place
Feb. 12 at Oakland High School in California. Students questioned
the Democratic presidential candidate on issues including
Proposition 21, the Gang Violence and Juvenile Crime Prevention
Initiative, which proposes to extend the ‘three strikes’ mandatory
sentencing laws to minors, create a death penalty for certain
gang-related crimes and try juveniles as adults. Sen. Bradley came
out against the measure. The public can tune in to SchoolCity’s
Youth Vote 2000 webcasts from UCLA March 4 and 5 at 2 p.m. PST and
March 6 at 11 a.m. A link to the webcast will be available from and from
the Center for Media Literacy at

Carol Hammond is a free-lance writer based in Portland, Maine

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