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March 06, 2004

The Vote

I participate in a list serve for "youth rights leaders". Lately they're talking about the vote. It occurs to me this morning that there's a segue between the vote and school issues that I hadn't thought about before...

For most folks out there, if we talk about lowering the voting age, their gut reaction is to ask for some kind of competency test. To some degree, I think that reaction is inspired by the notion that youth are supposed to be being tested, because that's what they do in school. If we lived in a society without compulsory schooling, then questions about testing competency would be less likely to arise. If we won the vote, I think it would raise questions about what school is actually supposed to accomplish... Do you sense that many people feel school is what gives you the right to vote?

Bonus thought:

Public schools are an arm of the government. They are the aspect of government that most personally impacts (most) youth on a daily basis. It seems to me that before we have a good shot at winning the vote, we'll need to establish something like democracy within the schools. If youth experience democratic participation at this very local level, the notion that they should have the right to participate in national decision-making will logically follow. [Of course, this is a harder fight. With the vote, you need to make one critical change to the U.S. Constitution. With schools, you may have to change thousands of institutions individually.]

Posted by Sven at March 6, 2004 10:19 AM


Sven, I'm glad stuff from the list is making you think. I was hoping to get some input though, especially on the topic of youth rights vs. youth liberation. You seem to be a big advocate for refering to the movement as YL over YR, so as everyone else who spoke out favored YR, I was hoping you could defend your side of things.

Posted by: KPalicz at March 18, 2004 09:20 AM