The Journalism class at my school participated in the Letters to the Next President writing project sponsored by Google and the National Writing Project. Below is the submission by our assistant editor:
We want to have our voice heard. Here at our [school] in Beaverton, Oregon, more than 75% of our student body was not able to vote in your election this November. But we still have strong opinions on important issues of the day and about where our country and our whole world is going. We want to help you change our country for the better and thus, change our world for the better. Although we could not help to choose our new president, we can still share or views so that you can keep teenagers in mind, as well as registered voters, during your presidency. We are the future and we will be voting in the next election, but we want our voice to be heard today as well as in four years.
From a poll conducted in some of Mr. T. Manning’s government class, some strong opinions on key issues of the day were voiced. Many students cited the war in Iraq and the environment as topics that needed the most focus. One government student stated that we need “to take care of the environment or it won’t be there for our children or grandchildren.” “The economy, which is in such a bad condition right now, is interrelated (with) many other issues, such as energy and oil and the war (in Iraq).” The student who voiced this opinion also stated that she was strongly against the Iraq War and saw health care as a top priority.
In a class of mostly fifteen- and sixteen-year-olds, the topic of energy and oil came up a lot more than you would expect from a pre-driving group. One of the students said that she felt that it is really important for our country’s survival to become energy independent. Many of the students also ask you to “focus on developing and improving alternate energy sources” to help stop our dependency on oil. A couple of the students talked about the benefits of drilling in Alaska to remove our dependency on oil from foreign countries, but also one student wants “the long-term effects of offshore drilling and the harnessing of geothermal power* to be thoroughly considered.” The student goes on to state that “medical advances might be hindered through the destruction of resources which have potentials (that are) not fully understood yet.” Many other students cite the environment as an important issue; they ask you to protect the earth and save resources. One student went on to say that “the environment should be saved, but not to the point where businesses can’t even open” because the land is being protected.
Other issues mentioned briefly were same-sex marriage, tax breaks and health care. One student asks for a “mandate to all people” regarding health care. Another student states that “same-sex marriage should be allowed. (Marriage is) a person’s choice, not society’s.” The majority of the government students are against same-sex marriage, but it was not an overwhelming majority; many students said that marriage and sexual orientation are life choices not to be controlled by the government. Many of the students said they were for tax breaks “to strengthen the economy,” but some were against such breaks. The issue that was most strongly talked about was the war in Iraq. The majority of the students were against the war, citing the enormous cost of the war as one of their main reasons for opposition. Some ask you to pull the troops out or to at least not send anymore, but two students feel that we need to finish what we started. One stated that “the Iraqi people cannot be left behind unless we know that there is a stable government (in Iraq),” while the other pro-war student insists that “if we pull troops now, we will have a bigger mess than we did to begin with.”
So in conclusion, we hope that you keep our opinions and the opinions of other under 18-year-olds in mind during all your days in office. We are considered to be too young to make a good decision while voting, but as you can see, we have our country and the whole world’s best interests at heart. We would like to congratulate you on your amazing accomplishment, but also remind you of something you are probably told all the time: you have just accepted the job of either leading our country out of our “funk” or further into the dark. We congratulate you and put our country in your hands and just ask you to keep us in your heart and mind.
Thank you for your consideration,
Katie M, Valiant Pride Assistant Editor
*Geothermal power “is energy generated by heat stored in the earth, or the collection of absorbed heat derived from underground, in the atmosphere and oceans.”