According to an article from Civic Engine by Ballot Ready, recent studies show that despite a 61.3% Increase in voter turnout from youth age 18-24 in the 2020 elections, just under half of all eligible voters are still not making their voices heard. So, why are youth consistently being outvoted by their elders? A lack of registration and information remains a primary obstacle; however, youth also face a lack of time, financial security to take off work, and access to civics education.
These barriers can be heightened in local elections, for which early voting across Texas began this Monday October 18th. Election Day is November 2nd. For more on what’s on your ballot – including vital school board races and constitutional amendments – check out guides from our friends at MOVE Texas and the League of Women Voters.
Students, families, and teachers are already experiencing the damage from classroom censorship law HB 3979, as Katy ISD and Spring Branch ISD have recently made headlines for banning books.
In Southlake, Texas, the Carroll ISD school board reprimanded a fourth grade teacher for keeping a copy of This Book is Anti-Racist in her classroom and shared guidelines for class books based on language from HB 3979. A school administrator later directly (and incorrectly) referenced HB 3979 to suggest that teachers should have books with an “opposing” perspective of the Holocaustin their classrooms. The district later clarified that “there are not two sides of the Holocaust” and the administrator’s comments do not reflect district policy.
While many of our students and educators have returned to the classroom, our representatives are wrapping up the third special session of the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature. Now more than ever, it remains vital that we advocate for greater youth civic engagement and education, and CDF-Texas is grateful to our many partners who have joined us in this effort.
Children’s Defense Fund – Texas is hosting You Run Your School (Board) next Tuesday, October 26 at 7pm. Learn more about upcoming school board races, and why you should vote in local elections by registering here.
CDF-Texas has also released a new report, Educate for Change: Civics in Texas. Check out the full report here, as well as additional resources & recommendations and a guideto writing letters to the editor about the importance of civic education.
Join the Texas Civil Rights Project and Own Our Vote campaign to register students across the state, giving them their first entry point into the democratic process by enforcing existing state law. Take action here.
BEAT THE ODDS
The CDF Beat the OddsⓇ (BTO) Program honors five Houston-area high school seniors who have excelled in academics and given back to their community, all while overcoming major adversity. The students, or honorees as we call them, are awarded a scholarship, a laptop, coursework and career guidance, ongoing mentorship, and more.
WHAT WE'VE BEEN UP TO
The 2021 BTO’s have begun settling into the college lifestyle, studying hard and participating in organizations and campus events. The week of Oct. 11-15, some of the BTOs participated in Teen Read Week.
We also connect BTOs to community service opportunities to emphasize the importance of lifelong citizenship.
View previous editions of our Civic Education newsletter!