BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL — Federal funding of education and tax breaks for manufacturers are hot topics even in elementary schools this month.
Students in two fourth-grade classes at Bountiful Elementary considered two sides of the issues in a mock-debate on Tuesday.
They spoke of jobless benefits and gross domestic product, of the need to decrease government spending and to become energy independent.
Six students who are participating in the class’s Student Enrichment Model (SEM) program addressed their attentive peers in the mock-debate, held to teach not only about national issues and politics, but about debating.
“The emphasis wasn’t on policy as much as learning the methods of debate,” said Lynn Kulicke, who works with students in the supplemental program for a half an hour each week.
As in high school debate, the students were randomly assigned to take one side or the other, with three representing the views of President Barack Obama and three representing the stand of Gov. Mitt Romney on the topics of education, environment and the economy.
In the process, they learned about citizenship and how government works, said Darlene Thayne, one of the two classroom teachers.
“We emphasize how to be a good citizen,” she said. “Being involved in the process is being a good citizen.”
Every hand went up when the students were asked if they’d watched the actual presidential debates on television.
Once they turn in their “voter registration,” which in this case is a permission slip from parents, the students will vote for the candidate of their choice on Nov. 6.
After studying Romney’s proposals, Halley Robinson said she agrees with many of them and would likely vote for him if she were 18.
“I like that he would cut spending and not let it get any higher,” she said.
Amy Anderson, who was assigned to speak in support of Obama, said it is good to study the policies of the candidates “so you know what their personalities are.” She and others on her team were impressed by Obama’s commitment to education.
Speaking in support of Romney, Elsee Teeples said the status quo isn’t solving any problems. She said promises “have been said before but never kept.”
Skills such as taking part in discussions after studying material and following agreed upon rules for discussion are part of the requirements of the new Common Core curriculum. Writing informative and explanatory texts as well as writing an opinion and supporting it with reason are also skills students were asked to develop.
“Now you have all the information, maybe you can go home and research some more and talk with your parents,” said Thayne at the conclusion of the presentations. “The cool thing in our country is that either way it will work out. In our country we change government all the time and things go smoothly,” she said, contrasting it to countries that have had coups or military take-overs.
“It’s a wonderful way of governing where we all have a say,” she said. “Maybe some of you have a future in government.”
Davis School District is also conducting a mock election. Students can vote for U.S. president, congressional seats and governor on the district’s secure MyDSD website. In some schools, voting is being done via printed ballots and voting booths. Others are having students cast their ballots at computer labs. Voting began Oct. 20 and continues through Nov. 6.