The other week at my school, Grade 5s and 6s participated in hypothetical democracy: student “elections”. I put that in quotes because they don’t actually get to elect anyone – there is no student council or anything – but they get to hear speeches and platforms and read campaign signs, and then vote.
One of the best things about this (in my sentimental opinion) is that the kids who run get to pick their own pretend names. That was one of my favourite things to do as a kid – my sisters and my best friend and I would have elaborate role-playing games that lasted over several days and often involved long sessions of drama-filled dialogue with imaginary people – and our characters (usually “college girls”) always had to have awesome names. My friend N usually picked Tracey, because of the actress who played Carol Seaver on Growing Pains.
I had a variety of alter egos; I know Samantha was one, and I used Cassandra a lot. In my mind, someone named Cassandra would have to be sophisticated and super-pretty. All the guys would like her.
Anyway, I digress. With some aliases the kids pick, you can tell they’re using names they think are cool – but sometimes they’re just being funny (I think Alice McPickle falls into that category).
The other thing that’s fun is the campaign promises. The candidates promise things they think other kids will vote for, to make our school “better”. After the speeches, the populace gets to ask questions, and they invariably ask, “How will you pay for those things?”, so the politicians have to be able to (loosely) explain their budget strategy.
Here are the cornerstones of candidates’ budgets:
- Movie night fundraiser;
- School fairs to raise money;
- Bake sales to raise money…
- You get the idea.
Here are some things promised this year by the budding politicians:
- Grass on the hill (we are a downtown school where the only grass possible is on a small hill the school sits on – but the kids run up and down it so much, plants don’t last long);
- Cookies on pizza days (kids used to get those, but the Board is implementing a new Healthy Schools plan with no regular junk food);
- Pillows on your chairs;
- More books for reading;
- More balls for play outside.
HOW CUTE is that list, I say to myself. Then I realize that, as adults, we basically want the same things.
Grass on the hill = green spaces, environmental protection, infrastructure.
Cookies on pizza days = extra perks – let’s say… tax breaks.
More books for reading = investment in education, obviously.
More balls for play outside & pillows for your chairs = better working conditions, right?
And where do we get the money? From our communal pockets, of course. (Well, in this case, it’s mostly their parents’ pockets.) It’s a finite system; the money has to come from somewhere. At school fairs, of course, spending money is optional – but neatly enough, people end up spending what they can afford. People who have more spend more, and thus contribute more. Seems simple enough, no?
Don’t worry, I’m not getting on my soap box today about tax-whiners, or the things our current federal government in Canada spends our “fundraising” money on (such as giving, uh, cookies to the companies that make cookies, for example)… I’m just wondering: could all our complaints be resolved if there were more baked goods for everyone?