Staff Editorial–Even if they can’t vote yet, students should be politically aware

Kayla Benjamin

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Did you know that:
– The Republican party proposes that mental health reform is the way to go to prevent shootings?
– All US military combat positions have just been opened to women, whereas previously there were some that were still off-limits?
– China recently got rid of their law that said people can only have one child?
– Just this past week, nearly 200 nations met in Paris to discuss climate change and what the world needs to do about it?

These are the kind of things we should know. Even as high schoolers, a basic knowledge of current events is essential to our understanding of the world around us. With easy access to cell phones and the internet, we are all part of a connected global community; we cannot afford to stay blissfully unaware of all that goes on outside of St. Louis, Mo.
But our school does not do enough to encourage global consciousness. We have only one class which actively takes a role in informing us about the world’s current affairs: Comparative Politics, and it’s a) only one semester long, and b) only for students willing to take on the work of an AP class.
This is unacceptable. Even if you’re not a straight-A student or you do too many extracurriculars to take another especially difficult class, it’s still important to know about the world outside of the USA.
But even within our own country, many high school students are not up-to-date on some important issues.
Pop quiz: How many 2016 presidential candidates can you name? There are 17 — just from the Republican and Democratic parties. Even if we’re not voting yet, basic awareness of what’s going on is important so that we can have mature conversations involving informed opinions.
Politics is always a difficult discussion, whether it be with family, friends or strangers. Many people do not agree — even within their own households — how the government should legislate public education or what role the United States has in keeping peace overseas. Not many people enjoy getting in fights and therefore don’t often talk politics. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware.
Politicians run this country. Although we trust them, what if citizens forget to care and instead let politicians do what they individually think is best for the country without our oversight? How will the United States continue as a democracy? And if we don’t start paying attention now, we have no guarantee that we will remember to do so as voting adults.
It isn’t hard to keep up with the news, either. With the internet, the happenings of the whole globe are at our fingertips, if we take just a few minutes to look. There are even services, such as theSkimm, which will condense daily, weekly or monthly news into a short, easy-to-read blurb so that you don’t have to sift through endless news sites. Countless news digest apps will give you access to the top headlines of the world with one finger-push.
Continue to seek out ways to learn about the world around you. When driving to school by yourself or with a parent, put NPR on the radio instead of hearing the same five songs every day. Whether you’re half asleep, or an engaged listener, you’d be surprised what you might pick up.

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The Student News Site of Parkway Central High School
Staff Editorial–Even if they can’t vote yet, students should be politically aware