Schools and elections don't mix.

It's time to change the way we teach leadership.

Elections give the wrong kind of civic education

Student government is meant to introduce young people to democracy and develop tomorrow’s leaders. In practice, however, school elections exclude all but the most popular, charismatic, and ambitious students from actively participating.

Elections incorrectly teach young people that there are a few natural-born leaders, and that for the rest democracy simply means casting an occasional vote.

We wouldn’t use a popularity contest to decide which few students get to learn math or history, so why do we do this with leadership and civic education?

Elections give the wrong kind of civic education

Student government is meant to introduce young people to democracy and develop tomorrow’s leaders. In practice, however, school elections exclude all but the most popular, charismatic, and ambitious students from actively participating.

Elections incorrectly teach young people that there are a few natural-born leaders, and that for the rest democracy simply means casting an occasional vote.

We wouldn’t use a popularity contest to decide which few students get to learn math or history, so why do we do this with leadership and civic education?

Play Video

There's a better way

We’re reinventing student government with:

Student Lotteries

Replacing elections with lotteries gives each student an equal opportunity to meaningfully participate

Rotation

Shorter terms of office allow more students to be involved

Horizontal Teamwork

Working together as equals provides a richer and more equitable educational experience

There's a better way

We’re reinventing student government with:

Student Lotteries

Replacing elections with lotteries gives each student an equal opportunity to meaningfully participate

Rotation

Shorter terms of office allow more students to be involved

Horizontal Teamwork

Working horizontally creates a richer and more equitable experience

Play Video

There's a better way

Play Video

We’re reinventing student government with:

Lotteries

Replacing elections with lotteries gives each student an equal opportunity to meaningfully participate

Rotation

Shorter terms of office allow more students to be involved

Horizontal Teamwork

Working horizontally creates a richer and more equitable experience

But don't young people need to learn how politics is done?

Young people need to learn the skills that will help them be capable, responsible citizens:

  • Active listening and critical thinking
  • Advocating on behalf of others
  • Planning and executing projects
  • Facilitating meetings

And elections aren’t the only way to do democracy! The ancient Athenians used lotteries to fill most public offices, and there’s growing recognition across the world that lotteries and other democratic innovations can help address the failings of electoral politics.

But don't young people need to learn how politics is done?

Young people need to learn the skills that will help them be capable, responsible citizens:

  • Active listening and critical thinking
  • Advocating on behalf of others
  • Planning and executing projects
  • Facilitating meetings
And elections aren’t the only way to do democracy! The ancient Athenians used lotteries to fill most public offices, and there’s growing recognition across the world that lotteries and other democratic innovations can help address the failings of electoral politics.
Play Video

But don't young people need to learn how politics is done?

Young people need to learn the skills that will help them be capable, responsible citizens:

  • Active listening and critical thinking
  • Advocating on behalf of others
  • Planning and executing projects
  • Facilitating meetings

And elections aren’t the only way to do democracy! The ancient Athenians used lotteries to fill most public offices, and there’s growing recognition across the world that lotteries and other democratic innovations can help address the failings of electoral politics.

Play Video

It's time to take action!

Get involved at your school

Are you a student? Teacher? Principal? Parent? We have a toolkit and other resources to help you reinvent your student government.

Support our work

We are a small non-profit that relies on donations from people like you to transform leadership and civic education.

See other uses of these practices

Frustrated by conventional politics? Find out about innovative ways practices like random selection are being used all over the world!

Have a question? Are you from a grant-making organization? Are you a member of the press? Contact us!

It's time to take action!

Get involved at your school

Are you a student? Teacher? Principal? Parent? We have a toolkit and other resources to help you reinvent your student government.

Support our work

We are a small non-profit that relies on donations from people like you to transform leadership and civic education.

See other uses of these practices

Frustrated by conventional politics? Find out about innovative ways practices like random selection are being used all over the world!

Have a question? Are you from a grant-making organization? Are you a member of the press? Contact us!

Democracy In Practice