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November 3, 2012

On the Go:Teens need to know about current events

---- — It’s all over Facebook, the television, the radio, even pop-up Pandora adds. We know their faces, religion, ages, and wives’ names. They lie to the public often.

Who? You might have already guessed the presidential candidates.

Gasp. A teenager knows the phrase, “presidential candidate.” This is a revolutionary concept.

Actually, it isn’t.

Most adults just don’t realize that teenagers do, occasionally, pay attention.

Just like adults, however, not every teen is informed, but, almost all teens have opinions. People tend to forget is the fact that politics affect children more than any other demographic in this country.

At school I have a study hall first thing in the morning. Occasionally a few kids bring up the election and they discuss their views aloud. One day our teacher mentioned how surprised he was to find informed and concerned teenagers supporting very valid arguments. I didn’t know whether to like that he valued their opinions enough to comment or to be miffed that he was shocked. I decided on both.

There is, however, a root truth in every stereotype. Teens have a responsibility to themselves and their peers to show adults that they possess good and capable working brains.

This study hall teacher, who mainly teaches science, has been the only one of my teachers to more than mention the upcoming elections. One teacher, in a class where the election and government would be a very appropriate topic, whisked  student interest under the rug.

I believe she did this to avoid conflict. This is the same reason children and young adults are startlingly ignorant about the recent past. This same teacher has been listing the debate days and times on the board. As I write this, I’m interested to see if she’ll include any independent debates such as Free and Equal’s third-party debate on Oct. 28.

A teenage friend of mine who is of voting age for the first time wants to register as independent and vote third party. Her mother was shocked and told her that her vote would, unfortunately, be wasted.

This is a problem resulting from the Electoral College and the na-tion’s focus on majority parties. Four years ago when I did a student election at my school, no mention of third-party candidates were given on our makeshift ballots.

If schools don’t include minority parties in their election, what message are they students receiving about the unimportance of minorities?Green party or green eyes, kids are taught they don’t mat-ter enough to receive recogni-tion. Wait a minute, why have I never heard of this third party? If teens are ill-informed, who does the blame fall on?

Sure, a teen could easily Google the elections but don’t teens al-ready spend seven hours a day in a learning institution? Teens can spend 80 minutes learn-ing about density (again) or 40 minutes analyzing whether or not a parabola is a 1-1 function. Tell me, how many parabolas do you analyze in your day-to-day?

I understand that Albany and colleges have deemed these things worthy, but what about more pressing and applicable lessons? What about our fu-tures and our nation’s future? Teens have no legal voice but we have a right to be informed.

Oh, right. It’s not in the budget. How about we dip into our plentiful military funds and reallocate them toward more education funds for a current events class?As an adult, you have a responsibility to advocate for kids and teens. You also have a responsibility to educate them so they may form their own views. Be careful, though; don’t just tell them what to believe.

Use your voice and tax dollars to help teens become well-informed, intelligent citizens so that they may grow up to change the world. The only way to do this is through education. Remember, students are the solution, NOT the problem.

KATIE AHEARN is a sophomore at Unat-ego Junior-Senior High School. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at