Monday, January 20, 2003

Georgia Students Talk Back

On November 18, 2002, Georgia Public Broadcasting was pleased to bring you Youth Talk Back - Rebuilding American Pride, a bi-annual event featuring the exchange of ideas between Congressman Johnny Isakson and high school students in his constituency. This year's program included more than 100 Georgia high school students and addressed the important issues of voter apathy, national citizen ID cards, and United States Middle Eastern relations.

The day began with the presentation of the colors by the Etowah High School color guard and the pledge of allegiance led by Congressman Isakson. Georgia Public Broadcasting Executive Director James Lyle then welcomed the students and discussion leaders to the GPB facility and commenced the program.

Before the actual Talk Back discussion got underway, an important presentation was made by student achiever Sam Scott. Sam shared shocking statistics about voter apathy among America's youth and offered a solution through the Kids Voting Georgia program. Congressman Isakson then announced the topic of this year's essay competition: Why did Georgia elect the first Republican governor since Reconstruction?

The Talk Back breakout sessions were led by a variety of qualified individuals, including members of Congressman Isakson's staff, officials from the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, and school counselors and teachers. Key points were discussed regarding each of the three main issues:
- Voter Apathy
- Are voters disenchanted?
- What are the reasons people don't vote?
- What can be done to increase turnout?
- National Identification Cards
- Security vs. privacy
- Social security cards
- National driver's license and a Bio-Identifier
- United States Middle Eastern Relations
- The War on Terrorism
- U.N. resolution on Iraq/weapons Inspection
- Arab/Israeli relations

After an hour of discussion in their smaller breakout groups, the students were ready to discuss their views with Congressman Isakson. The comments made by the students, who represented 23 metro-Atlanta high schools, were impressively sophisticated and engendered a very serious and much-needed dialogue with their elected representative in Congress.