In the last election season, Mindy Schiller asked her sixth-grade history class to develop a fictional candidate and create a commercial persuading classmates to vote for him (or her). Teaching at a Jewish day school in Barack Obama’s very liberal Hyde Park neighborhood, she wondered whether students might deviate from their parents’ beliefs, she writes in The American Thinker.
How to explain the concept of a graduated income tax to a 6th-grader? Badly-shaped pies scattered the whiteboard alongside percentages and proportions. . . . We tackled welfare, immigration, and national security . . .
Things got interesting when we discussed the candidates’ views on health insurance. This I defined as putting money into a communal pot so that someday, if we need it, there will be enough money in that pot to help individuals through a difficult time.
“But where does that money come from?” asked one boy.
“From our salaries,” I told him. “Every time we get paid, there’s a deduction for insurance.”
Students were dubious about that and even more critical of unemployment insurance. They worried about freeloaders.
One girl got up and pointed at a leftover pie on the board. “If you give away enough of your paycheck to welfare,” she said, “then pretty soon won’t you be the one who needs it?”
“Well,” I said, measuring my words, “that’s why some people are against raising taxes. But others would argue that most of the taxes are paid by people who can afford them.”
The next day, they took an online quiz produced by the nonpartisan ProCon.org that asked a range of questions. “Should abortion remain legal?” “Should felons be allowed to vote?”
The quiz generated a student’s preference of candidate from a choice of five: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, (Green) Jill Stein, (Libertarian) Gary Johnson, and (Constitution Party) Virgil Goode.
During class, several students learned their views were closest to Virgil Goode. Only one was closest to Obama. Schiller told them to finish at home, asking their parents for help understanding any tricky questions.
By the next day, all were Obama supporters.
My daughter, then 15, was indignant when I explained why money was missing from her very first paycheck (as an assistant Sunday school teacher.) “I worked for that money!” she said. “I earned that money!”
And now she’s an Obama voter.