Archive for May 11th, 2009

11
May
09

It’s not the Hype, it’s the Hella.

38:24

Final score at the Hella Bus basketball game last Friday night at the Southwest Boys and Girls Club. Hella Bus, led by fearless Coach Naomas, dribbled, picked, scored, back doored, and some other basket-ball-y things, to victory.

Hella. Bus. P1010944

P101094838 to 24. Now that’s schooling. 

P1010946

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11
May
09

Words to live by

11
May
09

Michel Gondry. Dang.

Always coming with the hits. The song makes me sleepy. The video makes me think I’m dreaming.

11
May
09

Round and round

Circle_Logo_1The Bus is a big fan of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, aka CIRCLE, which, really, is a way better name. CIRCLE is the go-to research organization that tracks young people in public life. If you’ve read any stats about youth voting, there’s a very good chance that they originated on the bucolic greens of the Tufts University-based CIRCLE.

So what are they up to now? Still taking names, still blowing minds, basically. Their latest study goes in-depth into actual turnout numbers from the 2008 general election, aka the Big One.

Some of their findings are encouraging – young people voted in ridiculously large numbers (upwards of 2 million), and young African Americans voted in the highest percentage of any racial or ethnic group of young Americans since 1972. However, they also point out some serious challenges facing youth voting, particularly the disparity between young people with college education, and those without.

According to CIRCLE’s research, 62% of young people with some college experience filled out their ballots. In contrast, just 36% of young people without college experience voted. That’s a huge difference, and it raises questions about how voter registration get-out-the-vote drives are conducted.

Neck and neck - via CIRCLE

Neck and neck - via CIRCLE

Education and voter turnout have been correlated for years. The percentage difference between college and non-college young voters has fluctuated roughly between 25-30% since 1972, meaning that even in surge years like 2008, both populations increase by roughly the same amount.

Many of the voter registration and GOTV programs that work with young people have two drawbacks: they’re campaign-based, and they focus on campuses. Neither is bad, but if they’re the only access points, it leaves a lot of folks out.

One of the key questions for building a sustainable democracy is how to close this gap – in an era when higher education is increasingly moving out of the reach of middle-income families (tuition is going up by potentially 28% over two years here in Washington), it’s imperative that we develop an answer to this question.

It’s not enough to engage only the people that are easy to engage. In a campaign calculus, they’re the first group to be eliminated from outreach plans, which means it’s up to the rest of us to do it year round.