Learning political process important for students

Elections matter because voters choose the people who they want to represent them in local, state and federal government. Such elected officials make decisions that affect the daily lives of their constituents.

This year is particularly important because Americans are choosing a new president and Hoosiers are selecting a new governor.

It’s beneficial, then, for voters to be as informed as possible about the candidates when casting their votes. That applies to high school students, some of whom are eligible to vote.

Nearly 100 Columbus East High School students from government classes taught by Troy Buntin attended the first Indiana Debate Commission gubernatorial debate Sept. 27 at Lawrence North High School. East was one of six schools involved, and the debate provided the students with an up-close look at the electoral process.

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It was a valuable experience for the students because they learned they can have a say in the outcome, and learned about education issues — the topic of the debate. The experience offered a way for students to develop opinions on the three candidates before some of them cast ballots on that race.

Students also witnessed how the candidates either answered or avoided their questions.

For example, East senior Aaron Villiger asked the candidates what they would do to ensure that performing arts and other arts programs continue to be encouraged in schools. However, Villiger felt none of the candidates provided adequate specifics on funding for the arts. That, too, was an educational moment.

The hope is that the teens who attended the debate share their experiences with classmates and encourage them to participate in the electoral process.

Elections matter, and it’s always important to understand the candidates and the issues in making a decision — regardless of age.

East school officials who made this experience possible are to be commended, as are the students who attended and gained valuable insight into the political process.