Shortly after the Inauguration on January 20, 2021, Lisa Kay Solomon, the developer of one of our teaching modules (Vote by Design,) wrote an article in www.thefulcrum.us. Solomon says,
Amanda Gorman is “a civic futurist.” Gorman says: “We lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us…” As Gorman declared at the inaugural: “Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”
Simply unfinished. That’s the call. That’s our charge… a futurist says, “I will boldly imagine what can be.”
THAT’s what Energizing Young Voters is all about. Boldly imagining what can be…
What we have seen when working with students are young people who are passionate about issues that face our nation, states, communities and schools. These students are far from apathetic about the world in which we live. What is lacking is not concern, passion, idealism, or willingness to work hard. What is lacking is an understanding of how to be engaged civically… the how-to’s, the nitty-gritty of being a lifelong voter and involved citizen.
What we have seen when working with students are young people who simply don’t yet realize how much impact they might have. They do not yet understand that if they exercise their collective right to vote and engage in civic action, they can bring about the change they want to see. It can happen – they can make it happen. There is individual and collective power to make a difference for the greater good.
Real, lasting change comes from more than just civic knowledge – from facts about things like the balance of powers or the branches of government. Granted, it is important to know those things, but textbook facts are not going to bring about real, lasting change. Change comes about from the application of knowledge — from civic engagement and agency — knowing what actions can be taken and how, when, and where to take those actions, and by developing the skills and confidence needed to make it so.
Energizing Young Voters believes this is a moment to reframe civics as a mindset, not an academic course. Experiences and opportunities for young people to become active citizens are needed now. Our commitment is to continue to engage students in moving us towards the “more perfect union” that was envisioned in our Constitution. As Lisa Kay Solomon says:
If we think of our nation as unfinished rather than broken, and actively teach our [upcoming] generation of citizens to imagine a finished nation, we embrace a growth mindset and open up a world of possibilities to collectively write the next chapter of the story.
THAT’s what Energizing Young Voters is all about.