Giving a Voice to the Young

Clockwise from top left: Kailene Isbell, Sherry Brown, John Evans, and Martha Cobb
 Kailene Isbell, Sherry Brown, John Evans, and Martha Cobb

Clockwise from top left: Kailene Isbell, Sherry Brown, Martha Cobb, and John Evans

On March 5, Texas Senator Ted Cruz won the Republican Caucus in Maine. The next day, Democratic voters chose Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. With more states heading to the polls for primary elections and caucuses in the coming weeks, I talked with students and teachers at Waterville Senior High School in Waterville, Maine, about the importance of voting and how kids can make their voices heard. 

English teacher Sherry Brown, who ran a local Democratic caucus on March 6, said that young people "don't feel as if they have a voice.... The candidates they are attracted to are the ones that give them a voice."

I also spoke with Dave Matteson, an Arts educator in Waterville. As a former campaign manager for a State Representative in Maine, Matteson knows the importance of listening to kids.

"I would always make time to speak with young people. Although they can't vote, they have opinions, too," Matteson said. "We would make sure to include issues important to [kids] in our campaign. Children would ask me how to ensure that the candidate they wanted was elected, and I would say, 'Encourage adults to get out and vote!'"

Matteson also knows the difference that a single vote can make. In one of the three campaigns that he managed, his candidate lost by a mere 30 votes.



Martha Cobb, who is co-chair of the Science department in Waterville, had a different take on what issues matters most to students, citing the affordability of college as a key concern. "Students graduate with overwhelming loans," she said. "They are in debt for very long periods of time."

Students Kailene Isbelle, 14, and John Evans, 15, said that they are indeed worried about being saddled with debt after they finish college. "I don't want to pay large amounts for decades after I have graduated," Kailene said. John also thinks that college tuition should be lower, but he doesn't want it to be funded through higher taxes.

Which candidate do you think has the best plan to make college more affordable?



Photos courtesy of the author