Students learn about civic engagement by lobbying for a bill
March 7, 2018
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.