There are plenty of issues ripe for discussion: gay marriage, budget talks in Olympia, and our own local School Bond. High-profile issues will be at the forefront of the media for months to come as the Presidential campaigns run their course.
For the most part, we encourage our kids to think on their own, evaluate the relevant data and brainstorm about creative solutions.
Junior Kyle Huber did just that when he opposing the upcoming school bond. He suggested alternatives to the over-crowding issue, and countered the argument that newer schools will increase home values with his observation that it is the great education, not nice buildings, that bring people to the Island. He credited great teachers and involved parents as instrumental in producing outstanding results.
It's a great time to get the conversation going at your own dinner table. Try throwing an issue out there for discussion. The best talks include all perspectives, and "devil's advocate" viewpoints. in our family we have to remind ourselves that it's not so much about being right, as exploring every side of the issue. Politics is a place for high emotion — all you have to do is turn on Fox News Network and other cable channels for a taste of how "sharp" political debates have become. My goal (in progress!) is to provide a counterbalance to the negative sound-bite political discussion.
One way to engage the family is to combine humor and politics by watching exceprts of the Colbert Report, The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live political Sketches. Of course, these shows need to be screened for appropriateness when you have younger viewers.
My daughter, a very new voter, recently went through her analysis on the school bond. Her journey echoed mine in many ways: Could this same money be better spent to pay teachers and support hiring high quality teachers? To pay more to English teachers who spend more time grading/editing papers? To shore up weaker programs (math, Spanish)? We, like Huber, feel that the good education here is about something different than the buildings.
But she (and I) came to the conclusion that these issues are in separate buckets — apples and oranges. By voting against the long-term (much needed) renovation of buildings, there would be no help on those other issues. And, a significant issue for me, there'd be no high school stadium upgrades for . In fact, those upgrades, which would impact a fairly large community of Island residents and visitors, would likely be backburnered for years in pared down versions of future bond offerings. Yikes!
I also pointed out to my daughter that a studied the issue for a long time, many of these folks trusted neighbors and community volunteers, and came up with the current plan. I havn't researched every last detail like they did, but I trust what I know about these folks. I voted YES. My daughter? She's considering a letter to the school district with her ideas about how they should be spending their money. That's what we hope for when we provide our kids with a great education.