Today is an event in my life no one would believe.
Okay here goes. This is way back in 1995, Bruce King was governor of NM. I was teaching and sponsor of YMCA's Youth and Government program. Students had their choice in the fall semester to either write a bill or they could be in the newspaper and have to write an article. We met on Tuesdays after school and went over their bill or bills. They were allowed one joke bill, but they had to have a serious one too. I had previous bill books and newspapers for them to use as examples.
The legislative session starts in mid-January and lasts thirty days on odd years and 60 days on even years. In February I took my students during the day on a bus up to Santa Fe with other students from the high schools in Albuquerque, for what we called pre-ledge. In the morning the students could attend the regular committee meetings to get a feel for what they would be doing when our time came. They were on their own for lunch and then we held sessions in another government building with a lecture hall. Here all the sponsors from all over the state got to know one another, same for the students, the student governor, vice-governor, secretary of state, attorney general, elected the previous year, would lead the legislative session going over the procedures and decorum for our sessions. The editor of the newspaper and the sponsor of the newspaper would meet with the new reporters and go over their articles.
After the real legislature finished, a week later on Saturday, Sunday and Monday is when we held our model legislature in the Round House, using the committee rooms and chambers.
Some students thought being on the newspaper was the easy way, here they were informed that after dinner during the session when all the legislators were having free time, they were writing their articles and then having to lay them out on the computers and get them ready to be printed first thing in the morning. They were lucky to get to bed by 3 in the morning, then had to witness the committee hearings and general sessions the next day to write their next article. I digress.
That year, 1995, a senator from Rio Rancho had a school voucher bill. The year before it passed the committees but died without a hearing on the floor. He thought this year it would sail through as the committees had the same senators and votes.
Sponsors kept an eye on the students, but they were on their own to choose which committees or sessions. They just had to stay in the capital building. At this time, I always wore a suit with bolo tie, cowboy boots and George Strait cowboy hat. I was not hard to miss.
I was sitting in an area outside the committee rooms. Senator Benevides, a high-ranking member of the senate and was always on TV making comments, he was hard to miss as he wore a patch over one eye, he came up to me and said, "You might want to sit in on the Senate educational committee, it just started."
Why he did this I haven't a clue. We'd never met before. I went in and they were reading the school voucher bill, The RR senator went to another committee meeting thinking he had this one in the bag.
Going over the bill it stipulated that a student could use the voucher to attend any school of his choosing if there was room at the school. The president of the AFT-NM stood and said this violated church and state as students could use public money for church schools. The archbishop of Santa Fe spoke in favor as it would give all students a choice of schools.
I saw the flaw in the bill, so I stood and said, "This bill would open up for coaches to start recruiting from other schools to get a monopoly on the good talent.
One of the senators looked at me, nodded his head, and said, "I hadn't thought of that."
When they voted the bill was tabled.
Needless to say, the senator from RR was rather miffed.
The next year Gary Johnson was elected governor. He ran on the platform of allowing gambling on Indian land. He was as anti-public education as they come and for eight years, he had a voucher bill that never passed. NM still does not have a voucher law.
Bravo! Good for you.
I love this story. :)
Glad you like it, no one will believe I single handedly kept student vouchers out of NM. Charter Schools are another story.
This is pretty amazing. Aside from the event, the overall program sounds like a great experience for students.
Shari, it is. Most fun I ever had as a teacher.
What a neat program! I would have loved something like that when I was in school. I was able to go to our Girl State in the summer, but that was just a couple of weeks. I would have chosen the newspaper.. not because of it being easier, but because... writing :-)
Judy, it replaced Boys and Girls State in the state.
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