Summer SAVY 2017, Session 2/Day 3- Policies and Politics (Rising 6th/7th)
Day 3 of Policies and Politics has been a whirlwind! We started off the day by returning to Nashville’s public transportation system. Today the students ran for mayor with the platform of either saying it should be self-sufficient (entirely supported by fees), should be completely free to riders (entirely supported by the general fund), or that we should maintain the status quo. I was really impressed by all three groups. Two of them talked about how to increase ridership, many of them talked about fairness and who should bear the burden, and they brought into great, but unexpected suggestions, like annual passes and how buses might increase safety on the roads. It was a really engaged debate with a lot of back and forth. While I admit the students were passionate they were also able to remain respectful of each other and each other’s opinions and ideas.
After our debate we began to discuss some of the ways that people advocate for their programs, both from the perspective of bureaucrats and elected officials. Many of these strategies had already been used by the students, but we also introduced some new ones. They honed right in on the use of both emotional and data driven/rational arguments and supplied examples of both. These led to our presidential election. The class chose candidates and then acted as advisors to help them refine their platforms and arguments—then on to the next debate. We had a civil, thorough, and exciting debate before our vote. Our candidates valued programs related to areas such as national security, parks, and balanced budgets but had very different proposals. One suggested a flat tax and eliminating tax breaks. Their opponent considered increasing income taxes and introducing a national sales tax. It was great to see how their values and priorities informed their policies and how they diverged from a lot of what we have seen in recent years.
Tomorrow we are going to play a game called Budgetopolis which will put them back in the shoes of elected officials, but at the local level this time. They will have to make hard choices about where to cut spending or increase taxes—with their values in mind. I think they are going to love it!
It was a great day and I hope you talk to your student tonight about these issues!