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What young people want the next president to care about

November 7, 2016 at 6:25 PM EST
What does the next generation of voters have to say to the next American president? Our Student Reporting Labs recorded young people from around the country on the issues that matter most to them, from homelessness to immigration to the division between church and state, in a project called “Letters to the President.”
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally tonight, on this last evening before Election Day, we hear from the next generation of voters about the issues they care about most.

We challenged our nationwide network of Student Reporting Labs to record young people voicing the concerns closest to their hearts.

Here is a sample of their responses.

The project is called Letters to the Next President.

CYNCERE PRESTON, Journalism and Media Academy Magnet School, Connecticut: Both candidates should consider affordable tuition plans, because no one should be deprived their right to further their education. My mother works a second job just to help pay for my college fees, so I’m working extra hard in school, so I can receive as many scholarships as possible.

DULCE SANABRIA, Health and Science School, Oregon: I would like our next president to talk about environmental issues in a way that actually makes us feel inclined to do something about them. It’s difficult to put ourselves in a place where we actually understand the negative impact that we’re creating with the pollution that we make with things that we think are necessities like cars or factories, when, in reality, those things are not going to matter at all if we don’t have a healthy enough planet to live on.

JAZLYN MIRANDA-MORALES, Hughes STEM High School, Ohio: I want the next president to focus on the immigration crisis. Many people are living with fear of being deported and having their families destroyed.

The next president should find a path toward citizenship for immigrants who have been longtime residents of our country. Instead of being treated like criminals, they should be rewarded for the positive contributions they are making in our economy and society.

ANDREW RUIZ, Etiwanda High School, California: What I want to tell the next president is that we need to bring God back into our government. The term separation of church and state means that, — and according to letters written by Thomas Jefferson — that the government shall not interfere with church teachings.

This is important, because we have taken it out of context saying that the church has no right to be in the government. When God was in our government, our country was truly good. No Democrat or Republican can fix it. Only God can.

ABBY ROSS, Black River Falls High School, Wisconsin: And I want the next president to know that women deserve equal pay to men. This is America, and we are known for our freedom. Women are earning more college and graduate degrees than men, but are still earning 79 cents to the dollar. This is our time to be paid equally, and it was our time a long time ago.

GENEVA VANHORN, Trumbull Career & Technical Center, Ohio: I believe that homelessness is something that we need to address in the upcoming election.

I believe that we need to help people who have lower privileges get up off of their feet, because it’s not always their fault why they made it their in the first place. It could have been something like a spike in taxes that caused them to lose their home and end up on the streets, like I did.

While I was on the streets, I realized basic necessities like food and water were almost impossible to come by, and people treated you as if you were a lesser human being.

So, we need to come together. And whatever excess we have, we have to use to bring those people up off their feet, so they can be a useful member of our communities.

TAYLOR KIKU ISHIMOTO, Etiwanda High School, California: I would like to tell the next president that there are 415,000 children all over America in foster care systems. When they exit the foster care system, 50 percent of them will be unemployed, 50 percent of them will be homeless, and 33 percent will have to go on public assistance.

MICHAEL INTRIERI, Herbert Hoover Elementary, California: I want the next president to help protect children like me from violence that has been going around our nation. Going to school every day is hard for us thinking that we are unsafe and our lives can be threatened at any moment.

DANTE FAISON, Frederick Douglass High School, Maryland: So, Mrs. Chief Executive or Mr. Head of State, if you want to get these votes, then you have got to be the one to make this change.

Give us peace of mind and equality if you are going to step onto this grander stage, because I’m tired of being scared to walk the streets as blood and bullets rain. What’s to stop another brother from taking a gunshot to the head or through his chest?

Dear America, I’m another statistic, depending on which way you see me. You built him a statue, but your law enforcement soils what he was dreaming. There’s a whole monument to him because he signed off on our freedom. Clearly, you all don’t see the greatness that they were seeing.

But I digress. I wish you both the best. If we give you the keys to our world, you got to promise us true freedom.

Truly yours, the black nation, the people you should be healing.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Wow.

Let’s hope the candidates are listening to all these young people.

You can see more of the letters, over 100 of them, at studentreportinglabs.org. The project is a partnership with the National Writing Project and local PBS station KQED in California.

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