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Gen Z Talks About Election 2020

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The Let’s Talk About Election 2020 youth media challenge showcase officially opened for submissions on Jan. 20, 2020 – exactly one year before our next president is inaugurated on the U.S. Capitol steps in Washington D.C. – and we’ve already received student media that we are really excited to share!

In these commentaries, students tell us about some of their most passionately-held (and well-researched) views on top-of-mind issues for teens, like climate change, gun control or reproductive legislation. These students come from communities across the country and the political spectrum. They share their authentic stories about the circumstances that inform their personal views, such as dealing with the illness of a parent or a school lockdown.

Controversial issues can be a challenge to navigate in the classroom, but research shows that high-quality discussion of controversial topics engages student interest and tolerance of differing viewpoints. And middle and high school students have a lot to say about the issues of the day. Most of them are too young to vote, but they aren’t too young to have an impact on those who can vote. These student perspectives will be shared with a national audience throughout the coming year, online and on-air via KQED and other public media stations throughout the country.

Young people want to be understood and heard, and we think America wants to hear what they have to say. Listen in and join the conversation.

Gun Reform/School Safety

With 130 incidents of gunfire on school grounds in 2019, many students report worrying about gun violence. Rae Wymer from Lowell High School in San Francisco describes what it’s like to live through a real-life lockdown and calls for common sense gun reform.



Cost of College

Julian Abergas, a senior at Lincoln High School in San Francisco, created this audio commentary to persuade voters to consider college cost as an important election-year issue that deserves wide-spread attention.



Ishita Misra, Jenika Fernando and Audrey Lu from AdVENTURE STEM Program at Herman Intermediate School in San Jose, California, created this powerful video commentary asking voters to prioritize healthcare access as they head to the polls.

Reproductive Legislation

Abortion legislation remains one of the top hot-button issues and students, including Kora Ulness from Black River Falls High School in Wisconsin, have a lot to say on both sides of the debate.

Add Your Students’ Voices to the Conversation

Let’s Talk About Election 2020 puts youth perspectives front and center for public media audiences across the country. The challenge also provides a platform for students to engage with each other in civic discourse across geographic and political divides. As America deepens its gridlock over social issues, this challenge offers an opportunity for students from around the country to create meaningful moments of interaction outside their usual spaces.

Talking about controversial issues with your students is not always straightforward. Teaching Tolerance has resources on how to begin to broach third-rail topics in a way that promote peer-to-peer engagement and productive civic engagement, while keeping the classroom a politically neutral space.

Everything You Need to Get Started
Excited to participate but worried about your media experience, convincing your administration or integrating the challenge in your curriculum? We’ve got a robust teacher resources kit to support you! It includes the free, online KQED Teach course Developing Youth Voice With Audio & Video Commentaries to bolster your media skills and a Standards Alignment Chart, which shows how the challenge cultivates standard-aligned skills and can fit into your lesson plans.

Join the Election 2020 challenge and empower your students’ voices!

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