A Generation of Responsible Citizenship
This month we are pleased to bring to you a guest who is well versed
in training young people to be responsible citizens. Joel Grewe,
Deputy Director of Generation Joshua, will encourage you and energize
your teens during this election season--something that seems lacking
in the mainstream of teen culture.
America has never been united by blood or birth or soil. We are bound
by ideals that move us beyond our backgrounds, lift us above our
interests and teach us what it means to be citizens. -- George W. Bush
It only happens once in a high school experience, and unfortunately
it's not something that fits nicely into an academic calendar. This
year, as I'm sure you are all aware, is a presidential election year.
If you haven't seen presidential ads on TV, billboards, yard signs,
and bumper stickers, expect to see them soon.
|Both of HSLDA’s high school consultants homeschooled their children from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Learn more >>
For most of us, this four year cycle that our country goes through is
something we think is probably good, but largely something we just put
up with. This year I want to encourage you to look at the elections as
a unique opportunity to educate and train your teens in what good
citizenship is. Occasions for responsible political activism exist,
but as you prepare to begin your school year, it is important to
realize that the November elections only come once in a high school
career. This fall, it is incumbent on us as parents not only to be
involved in the political process, but also to inspire our teens to
participate. President Reagan said it right:
"Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away
from extinction. It is ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and
defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a
people. Those who have known freedom, and then lost it, have never
known it again."
If we do not ensure that our children learn the core principles that
make America both free and great and are capably engaged in the
political process, we are but one generation away from the extinctions
of those freedoms we hold dear. The question then arises, how do we
take advantage of these elections as a means of teaching? In
conjunction with a civics or American Government course, a hands-on
approach will let your teens "live" what no course can teach them.
Consider these options.
You and your family can volunteer at a local political office for a
candidate you support. I grew up doing this, and I know from personal
experience that candidates' offices are always looking for volunteers
to man phone banks, hand out literature, wave signs, or stuff
envelopes. The jobs are basic and easy; but from an educator's
perspective, it is important to realize that you can have a
significant impact on an election by doing the simplest of things. One
of the best opportunities is for your teens to meet the candidates
when they tour their campaign offices. They often make themselves
available to talk and listen to the volunteers, particularly to the
If you plan to volunteer with a medium to large size group, it is
helpful to call in advance to let the campaign staff know you are
interested in helping and how many are coming. It will give your group
a better experience and ensure you have plenty to do. Resist the urge
to become cynical that money buys elections and the individual doesn't
count--because it's just not true. The engaged individual has
significantly more impact in a conversation than any piece of
literature or slick campaign ad. Your teen's individual participation
is one of the most valuable components to any campaign.
However, if you and your teen aren't interested in local campaigns,
consider participating with a national campaign effort. An excellent
example of this is Generation Joshua's Student Action Teams. These teams are designed to
take youth from the local political office to the front lines of a
battleground district for 5 days. The teams are organized by
Generation Joshua and there is no monetary cost to participate! Food,
housing, transportation and often travel to and from the campaign
location are paid!
In case you aren't familiar with Generation Joshua, it is an arm of
HSLDA, designed to educate Christian teenagers about the
responsibilities of citizenship, with the understanding that morality
and freedom go hand in hand.
As Francis Wayland, president of Brown College (now Brown University)
from 1827 to 1855, wrote in his classic book The Elements of Moral
Science: "God has rendered the blessing of freedom inseparable from
moral restraint in the individual; and hence it is vain for a people
to expect to be free unless they are first willing to be virtuous. It
is on this point that the question of the permanency of the present
form of government of the United States turns."
I would argue that the moral condition of America has declined, and we
are seeing government increasing its power and decreasing our freedom
as a result of the deteriorating moral climate. Generation Joshua is
attempting to infuse our culture with moral political leadership,
thereby defending freedom and liberty across America.
Over the past 8 years Generation Joshua engaged in over sixty
different campaigns, supported by thousands of parents and students
all across America. These teams of students and parents traveled to
dozens of battleground states across America and became the deciding
voice in the elections of congressmen and senators.
As I traveled with the teams (numbering from 30 to 380), I was
inspired by the amazement and inspiration of the students as they
discovered the impact a few days out of the year can have.
I can try to put in words what this looks like and why it is
important, but I think it would be easier to watch. Please take a
moment for me to show you what a Student Action Team does.
It's not just the amazing opportunity for hands-on government
education or the best possible way to inspire students to be good
citizens. It's the impact you and your teens will experience as you
grapple together with pressing issues of the day in a way that is
educational and inspiring.
I hope you will plan to include civic engagement and activism in your
curriculum this fall. Remember, you only get one opportunity for each
high schooler. We need leaders who are equipped, inspired, and capable
of making a difference; and this fall you have the opportunity to help
make those. Please don't waste it; our nation and your children can't
In our personal opinion (other authors and newsletter readers may
disagree with us), homeschooled students will receive greater
recognition for taking a community college course or an AP course than
an honors course, simply because the AP or community college course
has an aspect of "objectivity" associated with it.
Our website, www.generationjoshua.org, has more information on how to
join Generation Joshua, how to participate in Student Action Teams,
and how to sign up for the civics education courses offered. You or
your teen is welcome to call our staff at 540.338.5600 with questions.
With those inspiring words ringing in your ears, come back next month
as we talk about the importance of letters of recommendation for post
high school ventures.
Anticipating a bountiful new school year,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants