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Two Things Parents and Young People Taught Me About Our Democracy

posted on May 28, 2017 by Tony Monfiletto

2Today I learned two things that are so basic about young people and our democracy that I am embarrassed to call them a revelation. I write this blog on the eve of the primary election in New Mexico and I just returned home from making calls to prospective voters.  I love volunteering for elections because an engaged community makes for a better democracy (and I’m a bit of a government nerd). I want my neighbors to have something at stake in their local school board member or city councilor and ever since my children could walk I took them with me to knock on doors. The run up to the primary election on June 7, 2016 has been no different.

This year I walked door-to-door in the Westgate neighborhood with my daughter.  It is a “working class” and largely immigrant community. It was a busy place with a lot of people. We also met people who couldn’t vote because of their citizenship status.  At a few of these homes, people stopped what they were doing to talk with us about the election even though they weren’t eligible to participate. When they realized why we were there, they went to find their children so that we could talk to them. We learned that these young people had turned 18 recently and their parents wanted them to vote. Needless to say, I got out of the way and let my daughter talk to them about the candidates and the needs of their community.

I learned some things that day about civics that I had never heard in any focus group with parents or employers which is a hallmark of our school design process.

1. Parents want their children to be educated voters and they want them to participate. They proved through their actions that they are hopeful about our city and they wanted their children to be part of making it a better place.

2.  Young people can help each other build a civic culture in Albuquerque that will serve us, and them, in the future.

I wonder if our schools can help make that happen.

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