High School Students See No Role Models in Politics: Take Little Interest in Holding Office

By Billups, Andrea | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 16, 1999 | Go to article overview

High School Students See No Role Models in Politics: Take Little Interest in Holding Office


Billups, Andrea, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


More than half of the nation's high school students say they can't name a political role model today, and a majority say they have little interest in running for office or working on a campaign, a poll on government and politics found.

Most students are interested in voting, but that's the limit of their political involvement, according to a random phone survey of 501 American students.

"They don't want to get involved in the process themselves," says Stephen A. Janger, president of the Close Up Foundation, who joined textbook publisher Prentice Hall in releasing the survey results yesterday.

"They see voting as sort of a responsibility, but that's it," he said. "They'll go right up to the water and drink a little bit, but they are not interested in pursuing a career in politics or public service."

The survey was conducted by the polling firm Hart-Teeter in May to gauge how high school students feel about political leadership, policy, involvement and partisanship. Of those who responded, 85 were sophomores, 252 were juniors and 164 were seniors who will vote for the first time in November.

"Current events, particularly in recent months, provide real-life opportunities to gauge students' understanding of government and the importance it plays in our lives," Mr. Janger said. "Elected officials would be well-advised to listen to these voices of the future."

Some of the student views were reassuring, he said, and others came as a surprise.

For example, most students said they prefer career politicians or military leaders over political outsiders for president. Many years ago, that was not the case, Mr. Janger said. Today, however, "kids want politicians with experience. …

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