The midterm elections were only a few weeks ago and people are still celebrating their wins and recovering from their losses. In fact, some elections continued days after many results were sent in, such as the gubernatorial races in Florida and Georgia. While the midterms were in its beginning, middle, and end stages, government classes at Urbandale High School were in full swing discussing the midterms and trying their best to learn more about them.
Both government teachers at Urbandale High School, Mrs. Hale and Mr. Ahlquist, were interviewed about how they prepared their students for the upcoming election. Mrs. Hale was interviewed on Wednesday, November 28 and Mr. Ahlquist was interviewed on Thursday, November 29.
The first question was simple, “What did you teach your students about the midterms?”
Mrs. Hale replied by saying, “We talked about the candidates, and by that point we had already discussed the role that they have within our government, like the legislative branch and we had also talked about how you identify yourself within a political party and your political socialization.”
Mrs. Hale said that they had done “quite a bit of leg work” due to our state having both a governor’s race and a race in the Iowa House of Representatives.
Mr Ahlquist said, “We were just finishing up our unit on voting and we had just started our unit on the legislative branch, so it was perfect to teach them about who was running, what they needed to qualify for those positions at the federal level and I also talked about what was happening at the state level too.”
The next question was,“Did you stress the importance of voting on to your students?”
Mrs. Hale responded, “Yes. Especially to those that were eligible or maybe those that were ineligible to vote because they were still too young or unable to vote and to go with their parents.”
Mr. Ahlquist replied with, “Yes. Of course. Actually, when it’s a kid’s eighteenth birthday I give them a voter registration form, have them fill it out in class, and then I’ll mail it for them, or I make them do it [the voter registration form] online. I actually was excited to see so many first time voters, because they turned in a lot of government hour sheets. Even if you couldn’t vote, we allowed kids to go with their parents to go see what it’s like, to experience it, so that was cool too.”
One question that was only asked to Mr. Ahlquist was, “Did you discuss the candidates with your students?”
Mr. Ahlquist replied, “Briefly. I showed a couple of their campaign ads, but I didn’t really get into their politics.”
Another question only asked to Mr. Ahlquist, “Did you explain the roles that the elected officials would play at the national and state level?”
Mr. Ahlquist responded by saying, “Yeah. So, like I said for the legislative branch it was perfect because we had just learned about ‘what do you need to become a representative or senator.’ We didn’t have any senators up for election, so I was able to talk about the representatives and what they would do for us in D.C., we talked about being like a trustee or a politico or a delegate, and the different ways that they’re supposed to present us in Washington.”
Mr. Ahlquist also mentioned the governor’s race and said, “I was able to talk about what a governor is compared to what a president is and kind of make that connection.”
The third question was, “Did you explain the beliefs of each political party to your students?”
Mrs. Hale stated: “Yes. I either explained it or they had done an activity where they could explore it on their own.”
Mr. Ahlquist responded, “Prior to the election in early October, late September we did a whole unit on political beliefs and why voting is important and things like that. They had taken like, ideology quizzes so they knew what it meant to be a conservative and liberal, so they kind of knew going in. There was still a lot to learn, but at least they had a generic understanding of Republican and Democrat.”
The final question was, “Did you do any activities or interactive things to help your students better understand the midterms?”
Mrs. Hale replied, “Yes we did. Both political party and who was running for office, various activities. If you don’t do stuff, it can end up being a little bit dry. And you have to emphasize both sides of the story [both parties] and not just one or the other.”
Mr. Ahlquist responded by saying, “We did this puzzle piece activity we call it, where we have the state of Iowa and we look up one of our representatives and they have to like, put it together as pieces of the puzzle for your representative in District 3, since that’s where we live. They had to go look into their background, they had to go look into the committees they serve on, the accomplishments they have, and so they knew a lot about David Young going in, but not a lot about Cindy Axne besides what was on Spotify and Youtube and all the commercials.”
Urbandale’s government classes had their students well prepared for the midterms. The students were taught about the candidates, the different beliefs of each party, the importance of voting and even did some activities to make the learning fun.