Teaching the 26th Amendment
September 16, 2021 by
One of the most important things that schools can do to promote civic and political engagement is to explicitly teach about elections and voting.1 While this can include teaching about current elections and ballot initiatives or processes such as voter registration, education on voting should also include lessons on the struggle for voting rights by different groups throughout history. One such struggle, the struggle to lower the voting age to 18, culminated in a Constitutional amendment in 1971. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 26th Amendment.2
See our earlier post: 50th anniversary of 26th Amendment post
Here are some resources and ideas to help teachers and students explore what the 26th Amendment is and its importance:
WATCH this Close Up Conversations webinar in which two people who helped push for the passage of the amendment and one voting rights attorney discuss the significance of the amendment today. After watching the webinar, lead a discussion with students about such questions as:
- What is the significance of the 26th Amendment today?
- What strategies and tactics did activists and political leaders use to build support for the passage of the amendment?
- The speakers are all concerned about challenges to voting rights today. Do you share those concerns? Why or why not?
TEACH our Youth Voting lesson plan. Students will deliberate about the question, “Should the voting age be lowered to 16?”
In addition to teaching the 26th Amendment, if you are looking for lessons and activities to celebrate Constitution Day with your students, we have two lesson plans: 1) Examining the Preamble to teach the Preamble to the Constitution, and 2) Understanding the Constitution as Aspirational that explores the use of constitutional values by activists and political leaders throughout history.
As always, we encourage you to join the discussion of the 26th Amendment’s importance with your comments or questions below!
Featured Image Credit: Smithsonian National Museum of American History
 Teaching for Democracy Alliance: http://www.teachingfordemocracy.org/research-and-data-on-teaching-about-elections-and-voting.html
 WhiteHouse.gov: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/06/30/a-proclamation-on-the-50th-anniversary-of-the-26th-amendment/