A recent survey conducted with 1,400 adults found that only one-third could name all three branches of government. Only 37% of those surveyed can name rights guaranteed under the First Amendment.
This is not the only study that shows a need for more civics education. Studies also tell us that there is a clear relationship between informed citizens and active participation in government. That is just one of the reasons why we take the month of September to visit with schools in our district.
In the 2015 Regular Session, the Arkansas General Assembly passed a resolution designating September as annual “Take Your Legislator to School Month”. In addition to helping students learn more about the legislative process, this bipartisan initiative was also motivated by a need for members to fully understand the issues and challenges facing public schools. It also gives districts an opportunity to showcase innovative solutions developed by our educators.
The resolution encourages public school districts to plan special events with their local legislators. Examples could include allowing legislators to visit classrooms, reading to students, or present guest lectures. Districts could also sponsor panel discussions in which administrators and teachers discuss issues facing their schools.
The information we learn from this face to face interaction becomes invaluable during the legislative session. Our education committee hears testimony on hundreds of bills every session. Knowing the needs of our schools in advance helps guide our decision making process in a fast-paced environment.
On our website, www.arkansashouse.org, we have a section titled “Kids in the House”. There you will find all the materials your local school district will need to take advantage of this opportunity. In the materials, we have included a spreadsheet listing the members who represent all 257 districts in our state.
We hope all of you have a great first week back to school. We hope to see you very soon!