Politics holds new role in high school classrooms

As the results of the election sank in Nov. 5, teachers in high school classrooms across the nation found themselves debriefing a group of young people who are, by all accounts, more informed and civic-minded than any in recent memory, thanks largely to the internet, reports USA Today. "They’re very intelligent, very engaged, very savvy," says Alex Koroknay-Palicz, executive director of the National Youth Rights Association, a nonprofit working to get states to lower the voting age to 16. "The internet has made them knowledgeable about many more things that are going on." To the students in Gil Stange’s second-period AP Economics class at Towson High School in Maryland, it was a chance to test a theory: What if the Republican candidate had been the African American and the Democrat the 72-year-old white guy? "Is it really overcoming race?" asked Allison Rich, 17, dressed in a bright-red University of New Hampshire sweatshirt. "Or is it just a party issue?" Stange, 44, who has taught at Towson High School for 18 years, wasn’t surprised by the skeptical reaction of his students. For one thing, his students watched far less TV coverage of the election than he did. "They weren’t sort of swept away by the whole media idea, the ‘big sea change,’ whatever the popular meme was," he says. "They approached it from an analytical point of view." Blame political blogs, The Colbert Report, and, perhaps most significantly, Facebook, which allows them to post political stories online and post comments in real time, Stange says…
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