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Middle Schoolers Dissect 2020 Campaign Issues

student takes notes while looking at campaign website

Seventh graders in Marisa Gargano’s social studies class at Henry H. Wells Middle School cannot cast ballots on November 3 but if they could, their votes would be based on facts and the issues facing America. 

Students in the class have been researching the issues and where both presidential candidates stand on them and formulating their own well thought out positions. This week, they are working on 2020 campaign posters.

Before starting, students took a self-quiz to determine where they stand on issues like healthcare, the economy, the environment, and veterans’ affairs. Next, students worked in pairs or individually to investigate two issues that are important to them. They visited Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s websites to understand their views on the issues and then chose which candidate to support. Students were asked to give three supporting details to explain how their candidate will address each of the issues they chose.

Students in this particular class were split in their choice of candidates, though Joe Biden had slightly more support.

students work in small group while looking at campaign website

“I would like to see more LGBTQ rights, especially with the new Supreme Court justice and the possibility of their rights being stripped away,” said Biden supporter Samantha. “I would also like to see more equality between white people and people of color.” Her partner, Aleyda, agreed with her and the pair focused their work on LGBTQ+ equality and racial equity.

Another student, who supported Trump and preferred to remain anonymous, found immigration to be one of the most important issues currently.

“Trump wants to build a wall for the safety of U.S. citizens,” she said. “And immigrants die trying to get over the border. I think they should come here legally so they don’t have a chance of being deported or going to jail.”

She added that she believes there is a lot of child trafficking and that she thinks it would be better if we could keep track of immigrants more carefully so that they do not just disappear.

Her campaign slogan was “Vote for Donald. He will keep us safe and do what’s right for America.”

Caylie Constantin was not a huge fan of either candidate, although her choice was clear.

“I don’t like Biden, but I prefer him,” she said. Caylie had an extensive list of reasons for supporting Biden including his plans to protect the LGBTQ community, his criminal justice stance, his stance on racial equality, his plans to improve the police system, his immigration policy, his plan to raise taxes on people making over $400,000 per year, affordable health care, policies to protect and empower women and more.

“I like that Biden believes in science,” she said. “He actually believes in climate change. He believes in COVID and that people should wear a mask. He isn’t playing down the virus. He’s telling people to take it seriously. If he was president, I think more lives would have been saved.”

Her slogan? “Biden is the best for me and the rest.”

While the class was split on the question of who was the best candidate, one thing was very clear: students are both knowledgeable and passionate about important issues in today’s world. The exercise was a great way to ensure students dig deeper and back up their beliefs with facts, making their opinions stronger when they communicate them to others.

This lesson incorporated many of the essential skills that are part of the district’s Strategic Coherence Plan, including collaboration and communication, critical thinking and civic responsibility.

student studies campaign website