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2020 ‘mock election’ prompts concern among some Bend elementary school parents

'It made him sound like (Biden) was going to be a hero'

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Amid another presidential election, Ryan Gilbert of Bend is concerned about the nature of his young stepson's exposure to politics through an online learning program.

The first-grader attends Ponderosa Elementary, but like other students, he's completely online, for now.

Gilbert said Thursday one of his stepson's assignments was to read the bi-weekly Scholastic Newsletter.

In it is a link to Scholastic's 2020 Mock Election, where students can view both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden to make their decision.

The link also includes tweets from each candidate.

Gilbert said he has no issue with children learning about the election process, but found it troubling that the actual candidates are shown, rather than party prototypes, to teach kids about each side.

"It showed President Trump being talked down with all of his coronavirus, vaccine, and immigration policies," Gilbert said. "And then it showed Joe Biden, and it made him sound like he was going to be a hero."

A lifelong Republican, Gilbert plans on voting for Trump, but is concerned if his stepson speaks about his mock vote to other students, it may result in judgement and bullying.

NewsChannel 21 spoke with Ponderosa Elementary Principal Stephen Austin to learn more about the education system's ties to Scholastic.

"I don't think they're trying to push anyone to one side. I think just making them aware of the democratic process," Austin said. "I know people are talking about it in their homes, and I hope that parents would be talking about it with their children."

NewsChannel 21 also reached out to Scholastic to learn more about their 2020 Mock Election for students of all grade levels.

Executive Editor Jane Nussbaum released this official statement:

"For 100 years, Scholastic has provided educational resources that help kids build knowledge and develop critical thinking skills. The Scholastic Student Vote is part of the Company's 80 year tradition providing teachers and students with information during presidential election years to help them understand the workings of our democracy. Our mission, then as it is now, is to engage kids in civics instruction to help them become engaged citizens."

With just over 30 days until the election, many Oregonians will be casting their actual vote soon, but this situation raises questions on the mock election setup for students and parents across the country.

Article Topic Follows: Election

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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.


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