Conversations in the classroom

Government classes research politics before the election


Rebekah Mann

Halfway through their second period U.S. government class, seniors Zach Santana and Hadley Thomas research for their projects.

Tatum Tomallo, Social Media Manager

With Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden headlining the news because of today’s election, local and lesser-known state and national races do not receive much attention.

Government teachers Amy Rodriguez and Christina Post looked to fix that by opening the eyes of some first-time and soon-to-be voters by assigning research projects that look into those more obscure candidates and offices up for grabs.

“We’re hoping that our students gain an understanding of what the different elected positions do in terms of what their job is and also see the variety of candidates,” Rodriguez said. “We’re also hoping they learn what qualities are going to be important in those candidates as they get old enough to vote.” 

Senior Stephanie Tellan learned just what’s at stake when she researched the race for Texas Railroad commissioner. Democrat Chrysta Castaneda, Republican James “Jim” Wright and Libertarian candidate Matt Sterett are running for the head this agency that oversees oil and gas production in the state.

“So far I’ve learned about the Railroad Commission of Texas and the differences in politics like Democrats and the Republicans and the things about them,” Tellan said. “[I have also learned about] the House of Representatives, protecting the rights of individual states, and government design to give power. I’ve just learned a lot.”

In addition to learning more about the offices on the ballot, potential voters are able to take a step back and look at all of the factors that go into each candidate’s position. 

With this assignment, students also learn the functions that make up the U.S. government. They can apply this newly learned information to participate in mature political discussions and make informed decisions when they go to the polls.

“I’ve learned a lot about the upcoming election,” senior Zach Santana said, “and who to choose based on what I have learned in this assignment.”