Education

Wichita students choose Clinton in mock election

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A majority of Wichita public school students chose Hillary Clinton for president, according to the results of a districtwide mock election.

In the mock election, conducted online as part of the district’s civic literacy efforts, Clinton garnered 12,333 votes – about 58 percent of the votes cast.

Republican nominee Donald Trump got 4,244 votes, or about 20 percent.

Libertarian Gary Johnson collected about 12 percent of the vote, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein garnered nearly 10 percent.

Mark Nickel, a social studies specialist for the Wichita district, said lessons about the electoral process and how government works have always been part of the district’s curriculum, “but it’s more important now than ever.”

“Our mission is to prepare students to be informed, thoughtful and engaged citizens,” Nickel said. “The act of voting is very symbolic, but we spend a lot of time trying to do the very best job we can to help students be informed and thoughtful.”

At all grade levels, social studies lessons focus on persuasive writing, Nickel said – making a claim, supporting it with evidence, entertaining opposing views and understanding different perspectives.

“Teacher worked hard on opposing views and perspectives,” he said. “That’s part of the national conversation, as you know, that has been lacking, and so in our schools we’re working to help students understand each other and making progress there.”

The districtwide mock election, designed for pre-kindergarten through high school, was held over several days and ended Tuesday.

Teachers could choose whether and how to participate. About 42 percent of the district’s students cast votes.

Results, broken down by school and grade level, showed overwhelming support for the Democratic nominee. Clinton received about 61 percent of the elementary school vote and 60 percent from middle-schoolers. At high schools, where turnout was lower than in middle schools, Clinton garnered about 44 percent of votes cast.

Trump, who won Tuesday’s nationwide election, carried only a handful of Wichita schools, including McCollom Elementary and Northwest High.

School board member Lynn Rogers, who won election to the Kansas Senate on Tuesday, said he met lots of Wichita students during his campaign and was impressed with their knowledge of the election.

“Even the grade school kids are aware, and I appreciate that,” Rogers said.

“We talk about civic engagement and civic literacy and how important that is, and oftentimes the kids get blamed. But it’s really us adults that need a dose or two of additional literacy.”

Suzanne Perez Tobias: 316-268-6567, @suzannetobias

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