SANTA MONICA, CA – 11th and 12th grade history teachers in Santa Monica and Malibu have been working to educate and register their students for the election.
History teachers from the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District have helped their students understand the importance of voting as National Voter Registration Day approaches and the California Department of Education’s biannual Electoral Education Week draws to a close.
The push includes a small online information sheet, a discussion about voting in the classroom and a registration aid. Satinder Hawkins, American Cultures and Ethnic Studies coordinator for the district, created the online resource for teachers who do not want to create their own. It contains a fun educational video with actors from “Hamilton”.
The online educational resource discusses how various groups throughout American history have secured the right to vote and links to a website on historical voter suppression under Jim Crow’s electoral laws, as well as contemporary efforts by Congress to extend the right to vote.
The document also discusses eligibility and instructions for registration.
Hawkins has had a particularly joyful experience signing up for college elections as she is an immigrant and dedicated her life to teaching history. She shared the resource sheet on Twitter for other parents to participate.
The voter boost was in line with the gubernatorial election, but Hawkins said she was trying to avoid discussing the two together.
“The purpose isn’t really to politicize it. It’s to give students the ability to make their own decisions,” said Hawkins. “I think that’s an important difference because often people feel that teachers share their own policies. But as history teachers we want to give students the tools to think critically to make their own decisions. Children as participants in democracy. “
Hawkins’ classroom experience is that students are engaging and curious, she said. She wholeheartedly contradicted stereotypes that portray teenagers as grumpy and disinterested.
“In my experience and I’m sure the teachers are in Santa Monica [and Malibu] would share the same, students are very interested in the world. They’re very curious about how it works, and that’s one of the most enjoyable things for me when I’m an educator. You work with children who really just want to know, why is the world the way it is? “Said Hawkins. She added,” the vast majority of students are curious and interested and positive and optimistic. “
This is not the district’s last attempt to help students become involved in democracy, Hawkins said. It will work on future programming with regional and state agencies such as the California State Board of Education and the Santa Monica History Museum.
The California State Board of Education recently created a new state seal, the State Seal of Civic Engagement, which recognizes student participation and understanding of democracy, the US and California constitutions, and more. State seals appear on students’ diplomas and transcripts, according to the Orange County Department of Education.
Hawkins said the Santa Monica and Malibu districts will begin developing the local civic engagement seal criteria in October.