Oklahoma high school students delve into election process

Moore High School government teacher Liz Butcher tells class members to study issues, form their own opinions.
BY SARAH HUSSAIN shussain@opubco.com Modified: October 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm •  Published: October 8, 2012
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As the presidential election inches closer, Moore High School students in Liz Butcher's advanced placement government and politics classes are encouraged to study the issues and form their own opinions. In some cases, the students are straying from family tradition.

Before starting the school year, Joseph Kwak, 17, knew nothing about politics.

“In her class, we do a lot of research on parties and I'm better able to form my own opinions because she's not like, ‘This is right, this is wrong,'” he said. “She lets us do our own research, and then we form our own opinions and our own beliefs.”

Butcher led her class Thursday with a discussion on the first presidential debate. Her classes tend to be made up of honor students, so there were plenty of viewpoints tossed around the room about who the students thought led the debate and why the candidates did not go into specifics about the issues addressed.

“I ask for them to watch just a certain amount of time,” Butcher said. “I asked for them to not just watch for what the issues were, but how they presented themselves, do they look presidential, how can a debate help or hurt a candidate.”

Focus on election

Butcher tailored the normal curriculum to fit around the election. She started with the political philosophy of the United States, with students reading about the creators of the Declaration of Independence and analyzing their quotes to apply them to the U.S. government today.

“Then (we) went into our political culture,” Butcher said.

Students were required to watch the Republican and Democratic conventions and keep journals comparing and contrasting the conventions.

Mari Crowell, 17, said they are learning about public opinion “and all the different aspects of our government that go into the election.

“We usually spend 15 minutes in class or even more sometimes discussing the election, especially if there's a debate or anything like the conventions. We spent days discussing it so we could get opinions about politics and the candidates.”

“What I try to provide is information and let them know that an informed voter is the best kind of voter and that there are factors that do help us form our opinions, there's all these different factors that come into play,” Butcher said.

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