2014 Class Statements

Following the completion of the pre-Forum lesson, the classes compose class statements, an articulation of the consensus the students have reached regarding their concerns, values, and priorities for America. Class statements are submitted prior to the forum at the State Capitol. Following the forum, students will continue discussion in the classroom and then participate in a Student Ballot and ultimately frame their own “Future Five” statements. These are often framed as letters to elected officials.

The following are class statements from our 2014 Capitol Forum schools.

Auburn High School

66x66  Teacher: Bryce Roth

What specific international issues did your class discuss?
  Nuclear proliferation, threatening and unstable regimes such as North Korea, Iran, etc. Terrorism was also a major topic of discussion. We debated the crisis in the Ukraine and the impact that this may have on future relations with other emerging world powers like Russia, China, and India. We also discussed global environment issues and the concerns of U.S. growing debt.
Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

We believe that one of the most important issues America faces today is the proliferation of nuclear arms to unstable government bodies and possibly even terrorist groups. Another important issue was the growing scarcity of clean, fresh water due to lax regulations on industrial water use globally, as well as changes in global climate. U.S. debt was also a very eye-opening and pressing issue of concern.

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

We agreed that terrorism is an issue globally and in the U.S., but the nation needs to see the other issues that are possibly larger threats if we don’t begin addressing them.

Class Statement

We, the representatives of Auburn Senior High School, believe that proliferation of nuclear arms is the most important factor in maintaining a long lasting peace for the world. Nuclear arms are the greatest threat to humanity that we have ever seen and they threaten not only U.S. security, but global stability. We believe that the United States should take a stand in aiding Ukraine, as we have aided them since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Ukraine is an example that demonstrates the need for the us to be involved with protecting other nation’s sovereignty. As a nation, we also need to focus on leading the world in clean energy/technology by taking the initiative and showing what a clean nation can achieve. Other issues of importance for the U.S. to address include the need for multilateral cooperation in the war on terrorism, maintaining our economy to remain relevant as a global leader, and become more responsible with managing our national debt. With these precautions and actions, the United States will maintain its relevance at the forefront in addressing international threats/concerns for decades to come.

Bellevue West High School

Class: 21st Century World Studies

Teacher: Brenna Dacey

What specific international issues did your class discuss?

The students of Bellevue West have discussed nuclear weapons and proliferation, terrorism, immigration, environment, and international trade in the 21st Century World Studies.

Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

Out of these issues we have decided that immigration and terrorism are the most important issues the United States is facing at this time.

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

As a class, we have decided that environmental issues and international trade are less pressing issues in the United States.

Class Statement

As students of Bellevue Public Schools, we feel that the United States needs to focus on immigration and terrorism. Immigration and terrorism are extremely relevant in today’s international society and our local communities. In the recent decade, terrorist threats and attacks have greatly increased. They impact our international policy and policies are local government enacts. Immigration also needs to be at the center of the United States government’s focus. Recent presidents have struggled to implement a fair and just policy that both political parties can agree on.

Hastings Senior High School

71096_188631174319_6161995_n

Class: AP European History

Teacher: Robert Kerr

What specific international issues did your class discuss?

Nuclear weapons, terrorism, and the environment.

Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

Immigration, terrorism, and nuclear weapons.

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

International trade and the environment.

Class Statement

While international trade and the environment were not listed as our most important concerns, they still require attention by our leaders.  We think that the U.S. should work with the international community to establish environmental standards, as long as those standards don’t place the U.S. at a disadvantage in our economic production and standard of living.  We should work to get higher wages paid to workers in other nations to raise their living standards.  U.S. led wars of the past decade have taken their toll on our government expenditures and our willingness to get involved in foreign activities.  Therefore, we still need to battle terrorism, but should do so within the frame-work of international cooperation.  Nuclear weapons stockpiles should be reduced, but un-predictable actions from North Korea and Iran, as well as recent comments from some officials in Russia, mean we need to maintain our edge with these weapons.  Immigration policies should be based on the needs of our economy and on humanitarian concerns, but the border needs to be secured as the first step in any reform plans.

Hemingford High School

bobcats_hemingford_boys_varsity_basketball_winter_12-13  Teacher: Dave Chatelain

Class Statement

At Hemingford High School we believe that we should focus on our relations with our trading partners and allies while preserving the integrity of our homeland. Our first priority as Nebraskans is to look to strengthen global trade with an emphasis on industries that produce environmentally friendly products, and to work to better our communication with other countries in order to maximize trade relationships. While improving trade specific communications, we will also work to limit illegal immigrants from invading our soil. The U.S. is the main target of many illegals and a priority target for world-wide terrorism. Furthermore it is our responsibility as the world’s number one economy to upgrade our education systems, so that our citizens are the best and the brightest. We understand that not only does the world demand high quality trade goods that originate in Nebraska, the world also needs our highly educated high school and college graduates.

Holdrege High School

a4081a66814d3a40ee2c254d7585b452Class: American Government ’13

Teacher: Chad Bailey

What specific international issues did your class discuss?

Immigration, Environment, Trading, Nuclear Weapons and Terrorism

Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

All five topics are important to the United States, Holdrege students focused on immigration and the environment.

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

It was discussed that of the five topics that trading was the least important.

Class Statement

Our world is changing on a daily basis; we feel that we should focus on ourselves.  We have a huge public debt; our society is challenged by many issues including a trade deficit and a shaky economy.  Our policies on immigration, the environment and trading are outdated and broken.  We need to revise our policies to reflect this changing world.  Our future depends on more Americans becoming involved in our government to fix our many problems.

Nebraska Lutheran High School

medium Class: AP Government/Government

Teacher: Cori Humann

What specific international issues did your class discuss?

We looked at the United States as the world’s policeman with some concern that we simply cannot afford to continue to do so until we get our economy on track.

Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

We were mostly concerned about the national debt.  While that is not necessarily an international issue, the fact that China owns so much of our debt is not something we could ignore.

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

We were not interested in bringing the rest of the world to democracy because we feel that not all countries want to or even should be democratic.  We also felt that world peace is impractical.

Class Statement

The United States’ global policies should focus primarily on two issues: economic topics and fighting terrorism.  The most important economic issue for the U.S. to solve is cutting down on its massive spending to chip away at the national debt.  One way we believe the United States should cut its spending is by reducing its military involvement across the globe.  This policy would not only improve the country’s financial situation but would also benefit relationships with other nations.  Another way our country can help itself in economic topics would be to make fuller use of our own natural resources and decrease our reliance on Middle Eastern countries for oil, for example.  We also believe some reduction of our own country’s social programs would help our economic situation.  One important way to do just that would be to cut ObamaCare.  While we appreciate the idea of helping others, the cost involved places too much of a burden on taxpayers, and giving individuals the opportunity to address their own problems is better for the individuals in the long run and also beneficial to the nation as a whole.

As far as the threat of terrorism, the United States’ first priority should be protecting itself.  Not only would this keep American citizens safe, but it would also reduce global tensions across the world.  While we want to decrease our involvement, both in the military and other areas, in other countries, an emphasis on working with them against terrorism will also benefit the global society.  Doing so would also further reduce tensions between the U.S. and other countries by giving the nation a better reputation, as one that works with others rather than pushes its own influence on other countries.

Norfolk Senior High

 norfolk-high-school-norfolk-ne Teacher: Kathy Steinkamp

What specific international issues did your class discuss?

Environment, nuclear weapons, immigration, international trade, terrorism

Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

Nuclear proliferation, immigration, global trade, terrorism

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

Environment

Class Statement

Before we can help others, the United States must first focus on stabilizing our own country.  A free market economy should be in place while encouraging U.S. companies to provide livable wages to their workers in other countries. The U.S. will reserve the option to implement subsidies and tariffs to protect our own interests. Nuclear weapons are the world’s greatest threat. The U.S. should cooperate with countries that possess nuclear weapons so that we can reduce the number of weapons in existence. Terrorism is a global problem, not just a national problem, and that the U.S. should not be solely responsible for the protection of the rest of the world. Instead, we will work with the United Nations to fight terrorism and address the underlying causes of terrorism while maintaining a top priority of defending our homeland.  The U.S. should reduce the number of immigrants permitted into the country because the U.S. currently holds a sufficient population. The border control and restrictions should be increased to slow the flow of immigrants.  Environmental issues such as global warming and water pollution are current global concerns; however, environmental controls should be left up to each individual country. Trying to enforce general restrictions globally would be too difficult and may even have negative results on our economy.  The United States cannot effectively care for the rest of the world without first focusing on our own needs.

 

Platteview High School

 platteview-high-school Class: AP U.S. Government

Teacher: Jon Comine

What specific international issues did your class discuss?

Together, we discussed at length trade, immigration, health and environment, terrorism and nuclear proliferation.

Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

We agreed that terrorism was the most important issue because it is the most direct threat to society.

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

According to class discussion, Immigration and global trade were the least important topics covered in class.

Class Statement

With the growing demand for a global presence of America in the conflicted modern world, America must come together with our Allies to insure the safety and prosperity of ourself and others. We must seek out those whose goal it is to harm us; by either of conventional, nuclear, or digital means. We must help promote a more open global commerce, while bringing home economic reliance. We must regulate the negative environmental impact of industries, and promote the research and development of green technologies. We must reduce our reliance on foreign oil. It must be required that we better protect our borders, and accept those that have already arrived here; only if they take the steps to accept our customs and become legalized citizens.

Stanton Community Schools

mustang_largeClass: America’s Role in a Changing World

Teacher: Jacob Blum

Class Statement

As students of Stanton Community Schools, we believe that the United States should play the role that it has been playing around the world for some time. We should remain an open country where people from around the world can come and live a life of freedom and have the opportunity to purse happiness as they see fit. America also needs to continue to encourage free trade throughout the world and we need to make sure that barriers to free trade are further reduced. Americans should see themselves as world leaders and we should continue to be a leader in the free world today and long into the future. We should never shy away from the responsibility that we have in today’s world.

 

Sterling High School

mediumTeacher: Arlo Wusk

What specific international issues did your class discuss?

Immigration, Terrorism, World Trade, and Nuclear Proliferation

Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

We believe that all the issues being discussed are very important to the world today.

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

None of the issues hold any less importance than the others.

Class Statement

Global issues and misconceptions are always going to be a part of our world. We, the students at Sterling High School, acknowledge some of the important issues that need to be addressed. These issues include immigration, terrorism, world trade, and nuclear proliferation. Immigration has been a growing concern in our society. The question that arises is whether or not to place stricter laws about illegal immigration. Immigration is a huge part of our society today, whether most people realize it or not. The United States relies heavily upon immigrants for cheap labor. While some argue that the immigrants are taking over our jobs, most of the jobs that they perform are ones that nobody wants. While enforcing stricter laws might help our economy in some ways, it also could hurt it in others. Either way you look at it, immigration helps keep us in contact with many countries. This contact in turns helps us, by allowing us to decide whether or not we want to trade with these countries. While immigration is a concern, the backlash of not being able to trade with some countries is something to take under consideration. World trade is a huge part of our society and economy. Without it, we would not survive. But, with world trade comes the spider-web of relations with other countries which we must focus on not disturbing. We, the Sterling High School, want to increase world trade with other countries, as it typically forms stronger bonds with countries allowing them to become our allies in times of crisis. It also helps bolster our economy. We, the students, are willing to deal with the complexity of having World Trade. Terrorism, however, is always a constant threat to world trade. A terrorist attack can happen at anytime and anywhere in the world. The aftermath of a terrorist attack can permanently damage a countries infrastructure. Everyone, every nation, needs to collaborate to help prevent these inhumane strikes against humanity. Every nation needs to step up and take control of the situation on terrorism, and if they do not, then the United States must continue its role as the “world’s policeman”. Another topic that we as a world must agree upon is that of nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation has the capability of being the most deadly force we have ever seen. However optimistic you are, it would be ignorant of the United States to believe that every country would give up its arsenal of nuclear weapons if asked too. Yet, keeping the nuclear weapons poses a threat to the entirety of the world. If we keep our weapons of mass destruction as protection, what is stopping other countries from obtaining and then selling these weapons to other countries? We must rely on arms control. If we can control the spread of nuclear weapons, and keep the number of weapons to a steady decline throughout many years, we may eventually be able to get rid of them. The world as a whole however is not ready to give up its ultimate defense.  Each of these major issues has a domino effect. We must work to control immigration without completely getting rid of the people who fuel our economy. We need to work towards a better global marketplace, and continue to increase trade with other countries and build relationships with them. We must end terrorism, and hope that one day in the future terrorism will only be a thing of the past. And finally we must control nuclear proliferation as best as we can, for stopping the spread of these weapons is the first step in getting rid of them completely. Once these issues are resolved future generations can have the future that we have only dreamed about.

 

Waverly High School

medium 

What specific international issues did your class discuss?

We discussed human rights, the democratic ideal, free trade, foreign aid, and our national debt in detail. We question why we continue to dole out money and resources to countries that should be able to help themselves (Germany, France) or hate us (Egypt, Turkey). On top of this, we question this aid when we have a forever growing debt at home. When will irresponsible fiscal policy stop?

Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

We feel that free trade and its promotion is key to our role. Interdependence helps promote peace and “raises all boats”.  Rich get more, poor get more. It is not a zero-sum game.  No program will help 100% of the world 100% of the time, but free trade has historically shown to do more with less. Likewise, we feel our national debt, at the rate it is going, is unsustainable.  Free trade, lower costs, and cooperation world-wide could be a key piece here as well.

We feel that giving aid to other countries is out of control.  A look at where we have troops shows we have troops in over 150 countries. Some of these countries are places like Australia, New Zealand, and Germany. In 2012, we gave $1.5 billion to Egypt.

Meanwhile our national debt is at an astounding $17.3 trillion ($54,700 per citizen). Something is not right. Our focus is not where it should be as a nation.

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

Human rights and environment, while important, are not our focus. We feel that by increasing free trade, we will promote human rights.  People will start to live better due to more choices in many areas including jobs and medicine.  Let’s face it, the improvement in human rights through all these programs and movements has been minimal to say the least. There is still pain, suffering, and so forth despite all these efforts.  We suggest that maybe our way could help more in the long run.

Class Statement

America is a leader in the world: economically, politically, militarily, and culturally.  Many countries around the world still look to the US as an example of what they want to become.  Not all, but many.  Those that do not (Egypt, Turkey, etc) still want our aid (mostly money). We give them this money, our military, and so forth.  The question is WHY?

We believe our role in the world today should be to keep the US in a position of power IF it promotes our interests.  Adam Smith, the founder of modern day economics called this the “Invisible Hand.” People (the US) are motivated by self-interest.  Self-interest does not mean “greed” or “apathy”. Rather it means that by looking out for ourselves, we are helping others: the store owner sells stuff to you, both win. The store owner did NOT sell it because he cares about you. He sold it for money for him. You did NOT buy the product for him. You bought it for you.

Likewise, the US helps other countries by taking care of US interests. In regard to trade, terrorism, immigration, nuclear proliferation, and environmentalism we feel strongly that the US should focus more on “at home” than abroad. However, we are willing to cooperate for a more free and safe world in the areas of trade and immigration. Other countries look out for themselves, the US should as well.  Again, this is NOT “greed” nor “self-centered” motives, but rather Adam Smith’s invisible hand at work.  That being said, it is in our best self-interest to promote more freedom. Interdependence will help in all areas. This includes involvement in the UN, but not being the “world’s police”.  By being less involved in the Middle East affairs with a military presence, we may even deter terrorism at home. “Make the world safe for democracy” makes it sound like the US way is the only way. It is not for many.  It is for the US. Free the markets and let’s see what happens.

 

Wilcox-Hildreth Public School

ne-newhhs-letter-150Class: 21st Century

Teacher: Ken Meyers

What specific international issues did your class discuss?

We discussed the environment, trade, terrorism, both legal and illegal immigration and the challenges of nuclear weapons and the impact each had on the role the United States should be playing in the world today. Couple of the students felt the United States should flex its muscles more. If the United States is the leader of the world, we need to start expressing our expectations even more. We are very concern how the current government want to downplay the leadership that the U.S. has played and today do longer is view with respect by not only our allies but by most nations.

Are there issues that you agreed are important? If so, what are they?

Not all of the class agreed to one specific issue as being important. We all have different views as to the reason why issues are important, e.g. farming and its impact on the environment, question who is a terrorist, impact of possible EPA regulation on our life style and economy, e.g. “cap and trade,” higher emission standard on coal-fire electric generation plants, etc..

Did you agree that some issues are less important? If so, which ones?

We feel that all issues discussed are important in someway. Therefore we felt that all issues need to be continually debated.

Class Statement

We believe that the United States has to play a major role in the world today. We are a major economic and military power which leaves us in a position to stand up for the underdog. The question is: At what risk? We don’t believe that it is the job of the United States to be the guardian of the world, however, we can’t turn our back on our allies and our national interests. We feel that the United States faces huge obstacles addressing terrorism on a home grown and world wide level. In order to protect the people of our nation our National Security Agency needs to focus on identifying those potential threats more effectively. Illegal immigration remains a growing problem and should be addressed with a more efficient manner to obtain legal citizenship while maintaining a strong presence at our nation’s borders. We support free trade to a point. Due to our higher standard of living, out production cost are higher thus result in higher cost of a product, especially when looking at the cost of labor. The American farmer is able to produce food at a cheap price but due to increase production costs it is becoming more difficult to compete with other nations that provide large subsidies to their farmers. Also, as the world leaders decrease their stockpile of nuclear weapons there is an increase of nuclear weapons in countries that might be terrorist nations. This can increase the potential of use of “dirty bombs” thus threatening the security and safety of our country.


News

Aug
24

Omaha’s Todd Simon to receive 2017 Sower Award

Humanities Nebraska announced that Todd Simon, a prominent Omaha business and civi