School for Children Mock Presidential ElectionPosted by Katie Peshut on November 08, 2012
Every four years, Bank Street School for Children Upper School (Grades 5-8) students stage a mock election, which parallels the real Presidential Election. Each grade has certain responsibilities in connection with the activity. For example, the two 12/13s (7th grade) classes represent the major parties. The 10/11s (5th grade) are responsible for the nuts and bolts: they issue voter registration cards, create voting stations, conduct polls, and oversee the primary elections. In January, they will organize the Inauguration and Ball.
There was no child in the Upper School who did not participate fully in this activity, from the candidates, to the lobbyists, the press, those who followed the trends, those who oversaw voter registration and voting, those who organized the nominating conventions, and those who campaigned for their classmates and friends, making posters and advocating for them. Student interest and involvement was palpable, Teachers charted the course for their students, advisors coached their candidates, and then the entire Upper School rode the wave of their energy.
On Monday, November 5, 2012, this curricular piece culminated with a three-way debate -- which was given a tremendous visual boost from a parent who supplied magnificent decorations -- and then an Upper School-wide popular and electoral college vote. The Democratic candidate, along with her Vice Presidential candidate, were victorious over their Republican rivals and their independent rivals from the Freedom Party. Congratulations went out to all the candidates for their courage and deep commitment to this simulation, for the work they did in researching and preparing themselves for their respective runs, and for the knowledge and understandings they had clearly acquired in the process.
At the Upper School weekly morning meeting the day after the mock election, Stan Brimberg, Upper School Coordinator, told students, "An activity like this is why our school exists. The point of a school that teaches responsibility and participation by giving children practice at taking it on, in real and simulated situations, is to help prepare students to be effective and active members of the democracy in which they live, in which they will live as adults." In a letter to Upper School parents, Mr. Brimberg wrote that he has every confidence that the students know more about how an American President is elected than most adults in our country, and he is likewise confident that all of them will be effective citizens as they go forward.