Taking the independence campaign into schools
Lots of people are upset that Better Together are planning to send campaign packs to schools (my emphasis):
[T]he pro-Union Better Together campaign said it would be sending a teacher-resource pack, including lesson plans, research materials and a mock debate kit, to every school in the country.
Ross MacRae, Better Together’s youth co-ordinator, said his group’s teaching packs would be as “non-partisan as possible”.
“It’s less about our message. The first lesson is about referendums. We’re just giving them the resources. They do reflect our message, but it’s up to the teachers how to use it.
I’ve been wondering for a while why both Yes Scotland and Better Together seemed to be ignoring high schools as a potential battleground.
Because very few Scottish high school students are over 18 by the time they leave school, it appears the schools have got used to being campaigning-free zones.
In Denmark, on the other hand, secondary school students are typically between 15 and 20 years old, so you’d expect roughly half of them to have the right to vote in a general election. Because of this, Danish high schools are often full of political campaigning. For instance, in the run-up to a general election, there will normally be at least one huge debate featuring politicians from all parties debating in the atrium in front of all the students (not just the ones doing modern studies).
If Better Together proceed with their plan, I think Yes Scotland will have to send their own teacher resource packs to the schools, too — it will be a huge mistake to allow Better Together to do this unchallenged.
However, I believe it would be much better for Yes Scotland and Better Together to team up and create resource packs together, containing both neutral information and the views from both sides. In addition to these packs, they could offer to send debaters out to schools (whether professional politicians or young activists), so that the schools don’t have to spend time trying to organise a debate with equal number of debaters from both sides.
3 thoughts on “Taking the independence campaign into schools”
Thomas, this has already been planned for ages. All that BT did yesterday was capitalise on the dodgy poll story by announcing their plan to keep the poll in the press. Yes have well developed plans in this regard too.
I still think BT and YS should get together to send info packs to schools so that the teachers don’t need to choose between two competing sets of materials.
Update from Yes Scotland (http://www.yesscotland.net/yes_scotland_urges_no_campaign_to_suspend_lesson_plan_packs_for_teachers):
Chief Executive Blair Jenkins has written to Alistair Darling asking him to await guidance from the Electoral Commission and Education Scotland before proceeding with his campaign’s schools initiative.
The move comes after Yes Scotland was contacted by parents and teachers concerned about the No campaign plan.
In his letter, Mr Jenkins confirms that Yes Scotland will be producing information packs for schools ahead of next year’s independence referendum, but will only do so after receiving appropriate guidance and advice.
‘I hope you are able to to give an equivalent undertaking,’ he says.