Date: January 4, 2017
Subject: Original Work Research and Lessons
Throughout my original work, I learned a significant amount regarding being confident in voicing my political opinions, the role of public opinion, and how education policy shapes the current and future economy. As I researched, scripted, and recorded my podcast, Meet the Millennials, I centered my focus on what the election revealed about millennials and how political parties can further account for their needs. In the second part of my project, I directed my attention towards public education finance, the problems sprouting from it, millennial responses, and the direction their actions were leading the economy.
As I began my podcast, I had a substantial research regarding how social media and millennials changed the tone of the presidential primaries and general election. However, I had a vague understanding of how millennials were influencing political and policy actions within American politics. I wanted my podcast to analyze how millennials were changing the country’s politics and how policymakers could account for the generation sufficiently. When I started my project, I outlined specific questions to guide my research. By creating research questions to guide myself, I gained a significant amount of knowledge. This was in regards to what strategies candidates used to successfully court millennials, as well as how millennials perceive the role of their government.
Social media played an important role in winning millennial support. During the summer, Congressional Democrats staged a sit-in to protest for a vote on gun control legislation. When CSPAN cameras were turned off, millennials became intrigued as their elected officials quickly learned how to live stream from the House floor. As I examined and analyzed these events, I concluded that the use of social media to promote democracy intrigued millennials. From my survey results, I was able to infer that the majority of millennials are either apathetic or mistrusting of their government. The shift between these negative perceptions to a more positive and inclusive outlook, in my opinion, was due to policymakers meeting millennials on their chosen form of communication: social media. This was a major them throughout my research that led me to an important conclusion. Millennials may generally distrust their government; however, when elected officials engage them and treat the generation with respect instead of contempt, millennials often become more hopeful about the state of the nation.
After reaching this conclusion, I began to synthesize this theme with the election results. In my original work, I wanted to examine why millennials voted as they did. To answer my question, I assessed my survey results, demographic votes from the presidential election, and the movement in support of Senator Sanders. Before I began my research, I believed that millennials did not have a solid understanding of economics and policy, especially when compared to other generations. However, my survey returned with a majority of respondents displaying an interest in politics, while also being primarily concerned with social issues. When I compared these results to Senator Sanders’s campaign platform, as well as why his supporters rallied behind him, I discovered a link between the two. From my research, I concluded that millennials are notably more progressive than their parents because they perceive the role of the government to promote social equalities, instead of economic stability.
For the second half of my podcast, I researched public school finance and how the surrounding issues shape the actions of millennials. To begin my research, I sat in on a meeting between my mentor and state Senator Van Taylor. After listening to them discuss the state funding for Frisco ISD and other suburban district, we spent the following mentor visit discussing the causes and impacts of the state’s public school budget. As I learned that the system is constitutional, but in need of serious reform, per the Texas Supreme Court, I began investigating how the Frisco TRE affected my peers, and I found a theme from my previous research. Examining policies continuously led me to infer that millennials believe their government does not support them.
As I wrote my script for the first half of my education policy episode, I began to question whether millennials nationwide held this belief in response to education policy. From statistics, I learned that millennials primarily supported private schools and the use of vouchers. Along with this, the small amount of millennials pursuing a career in teaching leave the field after a handful of years. These facts led me to conclude that because of tight budgets for most public school districts and universities throughout the nation, older millennials feel neglected by their government and school systems. After reaching this conclusion, I struggled to formulate a possible solution. As I continued my research in budgets and economics, I found major flaws with almost all of my original ideas. Through this process, I began to understand that policymaking poses a lot more challenges than it seems. I was able to propose that state governments should increase funding to raise teacher salaries based on merit and offer college education majors scholarships similar to those offered to STEM majors. While developing this policy proposal, I learned an incredible amount about how to research and build an idea, as well as how to have confidence when presenting an idea.
Throughout my entire original work, I did learn about different issues surrounding current politics and policies and how they impacted millennials. However, one of the most lasting lessons I received was how to be confident in stating my opinion. Before developing my podcast, I struggled to feel comfortable when presenting my ideas and opinions regarding policy. My original work pushed me to find confidence and voice my opinions, even when I knew that they weren’t going to be shared by everyone.