Can a teacher legally require a student to register to vote in order to receive a grade?
I go to college, Oakland Community College in Auburn Hills, MI. My Political Science teacher has made it a part of a project for each student, who is a US citizen, to register to vote, bring in proof, and also bring a copy of someone else's voter's registration. WHile I am a US citizen and could easily get a friend's card, I do not think that I should have to do this in order to receive part of a grade.
Here is a copy of the guidelines for the project:
Due Date: The take-home parts of Project 5 must be turned in before the in-class part of Project 5 is given. There are no exceptions--students are strongly encouraged to turn the work in early.
Materials Needed to Complete Project 5: Be sure to bring a Scantron sheet with you to class for the in-class portions. You do not need a Blue Book.
Contents of Project 5
Project 5 has 4 parts to it:
1. Submission of a copy of your voter's registration card. 10 points
2. Submission of a copy of someone else's voter registration material. 10 points
3. Essay and supporting documentation of 3-hour project to improve the Federal government. 30 points
4. In-class multiple-choice exam. 50 points
Submission of a copy of your voter's registration card.
One of the key ideas raised in class is the importance of participating in our governance structure. Since voting is a key element to participating, your are asked to submit a copy of your voter's registration card.
If you do are not currently registered to vote, you can do so either at your city clerk's office or at the Secretary of State's office. Either way, you need to get a receipt showing that you have registered to vote--the Secretary of State will give you one automatically, but you will have to ask for one at your city clerk's office (It's really best to go the Secretary of state if you haven't registered before). There are other ways to register (online, etc.), but you won't get any proof back in time to earn credit--so please don't use a different method other than the recommended two.
If you are already registered to vote, but can't find your card, you can ask your city clerk for a copy.
If you cannot register to vote because of age or citizenship, you need to see me for an alternate assignment. The alternate assignment is still due before the start of Project 5, so be sure to see me well ahead of time to ask for the alternate assignment.
Points will be awarded for this activity as follows:
* Timely submission of a copy of your registration (10 points)
Submission of a copy of someone else's voter registration material.
Nearly one-third of the people who can register vote are not registered--so some of them need help to register. To complete this part of the project, you need to find someone who is eligible to be a registered voter WHO IS NOT CURRENTLY A REGISTERED VOTER AS OF THE DAY THIS ASSIGNMENT IS GIVEN, and help them do so--you don't have to register for them, or drive them to the Secretary of State's office (although, if you're going in order to register yourself, it's a good idea to do this.)
In doing this, MAKE SURE the person does not register online-- you have to turn in a copy of their registration receipt, and you can't do that if they register on line or through the telephone. They really should go either to the Secretary of State or their city clerk's office. In addition-- and this should go without saying-- you can't get someone else in this class to register to vote, because they are already registering to vote as part of their work on this project.
Finding someone to register is usually not hard--someone who has just turned 18, someone who has just moved to your neighborhood, students in other classes, co-workers, folks you worship with--in almost every case, someone you know needs to register.
If you cannot register to vote because of age or citizenship, you still need to complete this part of the project. Part of the skills taught in this class are the skills needed to show others the importance of participating in government, and this part of the project gives you a chance to use those skills.
Points will be awarded for this activity as follows:
* Timely submission of a copy of the registration of someone who was not previously registered (10 points)
Essay and supporting documentation of 3-hour project to improve the Federal government.
You've had a chance to think about what makes our system of government work--and, frankly, not work. Given that, and given that one of the purposes of this class is for you to learn how one person can make a difference in the shaping of our country, here's what you need to do for this part of the project:
Do something for 3 hours that contributes to the improvement of our government.
That's it--but there are usually questions, like:
What should I do? There isn't really a single answer to this question--in addition, part of the purpose of the assignment is to get you to think about how you can make a difference, so your answer will probably be different from everyone else's, and giving you ideas often means you're walking in their footsteps, and not your own. Keep in mind that this must be a new experience—this cannot be something you already do, have already done, or have already started.
As you think about what to do, ask yourself these questions: What could be improved in our government? How are other people trying to improve that part of the government? What could I do to improve that part of the government? What existing groups, agencies, organizations, etc., are there to improve this part of the government? Answering these questions may help you get started.
What will I do? If you're working with an established group, that's a good question to ask them when you call and tell them you'd like to help. If you're working on your own, that's a question you'll have to ask yourself. Either way, be sure you are doing things you are comfortable doing, but do keep in mind that you are serving as a volunteer, and this often means the work is--well, unglamorous.
As you answer this question, think more about writing the reflective paper than the task itself. If you come up with an idea, ask yourself, What three major concepts does this activity relate to? If you can't think of three, you probably want to find another activity.
In addition, make sure you are actually doing something. One "activity" that doesn't work at all is paying taxes--students bring in their pay stub and tell me they worked for three hours. This doesn't quite work you need to do something original, something you haven't done before, and something that improves your government. Another activity that won't work is letter-writing campaigns; writing letters is an effective tool in our government, but proving that it took three hours to research, write, and print out letters to elected officials is simply too difficult to verify-- so, for purposes of this assignment, that's out. Also, watching someone else do something is out; while you can certainly sit and learn a lot for someone talking, the idea here is that you are learning by doing-- so keep that in mind.
How will I be graded on this? You will be asked to do two things. First, if you're working with a group, bring in (on the letterhead of the organization) a note from your supervisor with your name, a description of what you did, and when you did it. The letter should have the supervisor's signature and phone number--in addition, the supervisor cannot be related to you, unless previously cleared with me. You don't have to work with an established agency, but it's strongly advised that you have someone supervise or oversee your work; if you think of a project where you can’t have someone supervise you, you must talk to me about it well in advance--failure to do so will result in no credit for the experience.
Second, you need to write a 5-7 paragraph reflective paper of your experience. Be sure to describe what you did, why you did it, how it improved the country, and what you thought about the experience. Also, be sure to relate your experience to at least three concepts discussed in class--provide ample detail in this area.
When can I do the work? You're welcome to do the work whenever you can. At the same time, I realize that 3 hours out of your life may be hard to find; as a result, you will have the opportunity to use class time to fulfill this assignment. After you complete the in-class portion of Project 4, you'll have the rest of that session to work on this part of the project.
Please note: you don't have to complete the volunteer work on these days. What this does is give you some additional flexibility. If you want to volunteer on a Saturday, or a weeknight, that's fine; in giving you time to do the assignment, I'm emphasizing how important it is to learn first-hand about the things we've been discussing in class. (If you choose to volunteer during class periods other than those listed above, that is your choice, but you are still responsible for the work in those class periods.)
Points will be awarded for this activity as follows:
* Written verification from a supervisor that you have completed three hours of the activity (no points will be awarded for this part of the project without this verification);
* The reflective paper is at least 400 words long (no points will be awarded for this activity if the essay is shorter);
* Your reflective paper includes a description of the work you did (0-3 points);
* Your reflective paper includes a description of why you did what you did, how you felt about the experience, and why (0-3 points );
* Your reflective paper includes a thorough explanation of how your work improves the Federal government (0-6 points)
* Your reflective paper conveys a degree of creativity and originality (0-3 points);
* Your reflective paper relates your work to three major concepts from class, and clearly explains how the work relates to each concept (0-5 points for each concept);
In-class multiple-choice exam
You will be given 50 multiple-choice questions to answer.
The questions will test your recollection of some of the basic facts we've discussed in class, and they will not require incredibly long answers--basically, you will either know them, or you won't. (Example: How can a constitutional amendment be proposed?) The questions can come from any chapter we've discussed, so use your notes and quizzes as your guide to study (you can't use them on the quiz).
Each question is worth 1 point.
This alternate assignment is designed to replace the Voter's Registration assignment for Project 5. You may only do this alternate assignment if you are not a US citizen, or if you are under the age of 18:
Using Blackboard, click on the External Links button, and open the Web site for Project Vote Smart. Spend about 10-15 minutes opening parts of Project Vote Smart; then, in about 3 paragraphs, describe the Web site. You want to explain it as if you were telling someone about it who had never seen it before.
For credit towards the Project, turn in your 3-paragraph summary, and a print out of page 1 of the Web site.
You still have to get someone else to register to vote for Project 5-- even if you can't register, you're smarter than most Americans right now, so go find one who needs to register!
PLEASE NOTE: Your score on Project 5 will be available at the end of Session 14. If your score is below 70, you will be allowed to re-take any part of this project--but the due date for all part of the make-up is Session 15. If you'll need to re-take the multiple choice part, that will be given in Session 15--but if you need to re-take any other part, you will have very little time to complete the work. It is strongly recommended that you do your very best work on all parts of this project in order to avoid putting yourself in a time crunch.