Government teacher encourages students to get involved in politics

By Kevin Williams

Jeff Kauffman is a government teacher at MCC who has been teaching government for 28 years. Kauffman is also chairman of the Republican party of Iowa.

Every semester, Kauffman gives his students two choices for writing a paper. He gives them the option to either write a paper about a president, or they can chose a political party and work 10 volunteer hours for that party and write a paper about their experiences. When introducing the two projects, Kauffman usually tries to get students to lean toward the political party paper because he feels the information learned is more beneficial for students than researching a president.

Kauffman has been doing this project for 15 years and gets positive feedback from students every semester. He finds that this project is a great learning experience and students actually thank him for giving them the opportunity.

Over the years, the project has progressed and changed in many ways. There are more computer- and micro-targeting by the campaigns, which is an interest for students, but the fundamentals and basic principles of campaigning have not changed that much.

“Real world experience is almost always more important to education than learning strictly from a textbook written by authors that have never run for office or held a public position,” Kauffman says.

While doing this project and teaching government, Kauffman has a very strong opinion on professionals keeping their political views and opinions from biasing the way they are teaching.

“I am STRICTLY non-partisan in my class and my offering of this opportunity. Quite often I have more students working for Democrats than Republicans. Trying to influence student political affiliation is unprofessional, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I see it happen all the time at all levels of education.”

The opportunity that Kauffman is giving his students to go out into the real world and learn more about a political party and about the process of volunteering and working for a political party is extremely important because these young adults are our future leaders. Opening students eyes to this opportunity can change the way they look at politics forever.