Teaching the Vote
When I was a senior in high school, teachers across the school passed out voter registration slips on a daily basis during our advisory period. I was unfortunately too young to participate at the time, but I remember thinking little of the school’s efforts; we were a public school after all. Issues that affected our school often showed up on a ballot, and we were required by law to take a government class to promote civic engagement and a general understanding of the system in which we operate.
My teacher wasn’t eligible to register us to vote, but he made sure to ask everyone in the classroom multiple times if they needed a form, and even put the forms on a desk for students to grab on their way out if they didn’t wish to raise their hands in class.
It wasn’t until just a few weeks ago — almost three years after those opportunities — when a study from the Texas Civil Rights Project detailed the unfortunate noncompliance of a state law by nearly all Texas schools that I understood just how fortunate I was to have the opportunity to register.
TCRP wants to know more about the voter registration experience of high schoolers in Texas. Were you offered a form? Did your teachers remind you of your civic duty?
I’m extremely grateful to have attended a school that encouraged students to vote. Our system teaches the importance of democratic engagement, but it’s necessary to go beyond the theory and guide students in the way of tangible action. We need to do better, Texas.
Emily Vernon is a student at the University of Texas