Students at Tucson’s Sky Island High School are lobbing for a bill from the classroom to give teachers money to buy class supplies as a lesson in civic engagement.
Steve Painter, a social studies teacher at Sky Island, is giving his students a hands-on approach on how a bill becomes a law. The students are lobbying for HB2377, a bill sponsored by Rep. Kirsten Engle, D-Tucson, to give schools more money so teachers can buy classroom supplies. The students are writing emails and letters to the capitol in an effort to make this bill be seen.
“The students really got behind it and sent out some letters to the education committee…,” Painter says. “Once the emails started rolling in, they decided to include it on the agenda.”
Many of the students didn’t know the first step on how a bill becomes a law or who to talk to in order for it to happen. Some students were skeptical about whether or not their emails would even be seen or paid attention to. Once it was taken into consideration, it instilled hope in the students that they can make a change.
“I really do want [the bill] to pass. This isn’t just about me participating in the class,” Ashley Roberts, a student at Sky Island, says. “The teachers help build the students up to where they will be. If we can’t help them with education then why do we have the education system?”
The students quickly learned how a bill can be stuck in the committee. One student admits that it was a much more difficult process than he expected. The bill came back into the light after Rep. Todd Clodfelter, R-Tucson, amended it into another proposal. It led to the students going on another writing campaign to get the lawmakers to vote on it again.
Unfortunately, the bill failed in the house. Despite the loss, the students learned how loud their voices can be and how gratifying it can feel to be engaged in their community.
Ted Simons- RECENT EVENTS HAVE PROMPTED AN INCREASE IN STUDENT ACTIVISM, RESULTING IN SCHOOL WALKOUTS AND OTHER PROTESTS. ACTIVISM ALSO INCLUDES CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, AS A GROUP OF ARIZONA HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FOUND OUT BY LEARNING HOW TO TRACK A PIECE OF LEGISLATION. PRODUCER CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- TAKES US TO THIS GOVERNMENT CLASS IN TUCSON.
SCHOOL OF ROCK- I'M JUST A BILL -- YES, I'M ONLY A BILL.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- THIS IS HOW ADULTS IN THEIR 40S AND 50S, LIKE ME, LEARNED HOW A BILL BECOMES LAW. BUT TIMES HAVE CHANGED.
WHEN WE LEFT HERE ON THURSDAY, I SAID HB2373, THE BILL WE WERE WORKING ON WAS DEAD BECAUSE THE APPROPRIATION'S COMMITTEE WON'T HEAR IT.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- THE STUDENTS ARE GETTING A FIRST HAND LOOK AT HOW STATE GOVERNMENT LOOKS.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- INSTEAD OF READING A BOOK OR WATCHING A VIDEO ABOUT CIVICS, THEY ARE LOBBYING FOR A BILL IN THE ARIZONA LEGISLATURE.
ANY CONCLUSION, A CALL TO ACTION, WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM TO DO? I DON'T THINK BEFORE IT STARTED, THAT THEY KNEW ANYTHING ABOUT A MAJORITY WHIP OR MINORITY LEADER OR WHAT ROLES THEY PLAY. WE'LL GO TO THE COMPUTER LAB WHERE YOU WILL BANG OUT THE E-MAILS.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- THE BILL CHAMPIONED BY THE CLASS WOULD GIVE ARIZONA TEACHERS MONEY TO BUY CLASSROOM SUPPLIES.
KRISTIN ENGLE-WE HAVE A PROBLEM IN THE STATE IN TERMS OF FUNDING OUR TEACHERS.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- THE BILL SPONSORED BY DEMOCRAT KRISTIN ENGLE WHO CAME BEFORE THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION, SO THE CLASS BEGAN WRITING LETTERS.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- WHILE WE WERE THERE, WE SNUCK IN THE EDUCATION BILLS WE WERE WORKING IN. IT WAS HEART WARMING TO KNOW THEY LOOK AT US AND CARE.
INITIALLY, NOT ALL OF THE STUDENTS WERE ONBOARD WITH THE ASSIGNMENT. I WAS SKEPTICAL AT FIRST BECAUSE THEY GET THOUSANDS OF E-MAILS EVERYDAY. WHY WOULD THEY TAKE TIME TO READ HIGH SCHOOLER E-MAIL? AFTER HEARING THAT THEY TOOK IT INTO CONSIDERATION, I'M PLEASANTLY SURPRISED, AND I'M GLAD TO BE PROVEN WRONG.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- THE STUDENT'S EFFORTS PAID OFF FOR THE PROPOSAL.
THE STUDENTS GOT BEHIND IT WHEN THEY SENT THE E-MAILS OUT. PRIOR TO THAT, THEY WEREN'T INTERESTED IN HEARING THE BILL IN COMMITTEE. ONCE THE E-MAILS ROLLED IN, THEY PUT IT ON THE AGENDA.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- THE CLASS IS LEARNING ABOUT THE WAY A BILL BECOMES A LAW.
I DIDN'T KNOW ANY OF THE STEPS TO DO IT. NOW I KNOW PRETTY MUCH ALL OF THEM. IT'S A LOT HARDER THAN I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE.
I HAVE NEVER DONE ANYTHING LIKE THIS BEFORE. I HAVE GROWN TO APPRECIATE IT MORE.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- THE CLASS LEARNED ABOUT LEGISLATION WHEN THE BILL WAS STUCK IN COMMITTEE.
WE WORKED TO PUT TOGETHER A PACKAGE APPROVED TODAY.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- THEN NEW LIFE WHEN REPUBLIC TODD CLOD FELTERAMENDED IT TO ANOTHER PROPOSAL.
YOU FAILED TO PASS HOUSE BILL 2377.
CHRISTOPHER CONOVER- THAT BROUGHT ON A NEW LETTER WRITING CAMPAIGN, THIS TIME TO GET ANOTHER VOTE ON THE BILL.
WE ARE LOBBYING THE MAIN PEOPLE, THE MAJORITY LEADERS, MAJORITY LEADER, AND TWO CO- SPONSORS TO ASK THEM TO PUSH EVERYONE TO BE LIKE, HEY, RECONSIDER THE BILL.
THAT LOOKS GOOD. THE FINAL ONE IS A CALL TO ACTION.
I WANT THIS TO PASS, NOT JUST ME PARTICIPATING IN THE CLASS, I FEEL THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN. THE STUDENTS BUILD THEM UP TO WHO THEY WILL BE. IF WE CAN'T HELP THEM WITH EDUCATION, WHY DO WE HAVE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM?
SCHOOL OF ROCK- IT'S NOT EASY TO BECOME A LAW, IS IT? NO. HOW I HOPE AND PRAY THAT I WILL, BUT TODAY I AM STILL JUST A BILL
Ted Simons- DESPITE THE STUDENTS BEST EFFORTS, THE BILL FAILED IN THE HOUSE. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US
Steve Painter: Teacher, Sky Island High School
Ashley Roberts: Student, Sky Island High School, Tucson
Kahlo Vezino: Student, Sky Island High School, Tucson