Column One: Students

By Robert Rothman — March 04, 1992 1 min read
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As the 1992 election campaign season moves into full swing, a number of organizations are gearing up voter-registration drives and education efforts aimed at young people.

Americans for Democratic Action, for example, has revived a 1972 drive credited with registering over 120,000 youths and spurring a generation of young activists.

The new effort, named in memory of the late Allard K. Lowenstein, the Democratic Party activist who led the earlier drive, will focus on registering high-school and college-age students in California, New York State, and North Carolina. At the same time, said Amy Isaacs, the national director of the A.D.A., the effort is aimed at “empowering” the students.

“Through the process,” she said, “we will begin to educate the leaders of tomorrow.”

In addition to the A.D.A., several other national organizations, including the League of Women Voters, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and People for the American Way, plan to hold registration drives aimed at young voters.

Another group, known as Rock the Vote, plans to enlist music and entertainment stars to persuade students to register.

In New York City and Houston, the sites of the Democratic and Republican party conventions, meanwhile, a corporate-funded campaign is sending high-school students to “democracy class.”

With $500,000 grants from the RJR Nabisco Corporation, schools in each city have developed programs to teach students about Presidential politics and the electoral system.

In addition to studying classroom civics materials, students will organize Presidential campaigns, participate in mock primary elections (complete with exit polls), develop party platforms, hold mock debates, and organize political precincts.

Near the end of the school year, students in all participating schools in each city will hold a mock party convention.

Several students involved in the program also plan to use their knowledge on the real political stage. At James Madison High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., one student, Carline Garnier, is running as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention pledged to Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska. Another Madison High School student, Patrick Leahy, is running as an uncommitted delegate to the Republican National Convention.

A version of this article appeared in the March 04, 1992 edition of Education Week as Column One: Students


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