Students will be able to develop their own inquiry project where they create a coherent political position on a topic of great importance. They will be able to analyze articles, bills/laws, and multiple perspectives to create a proposal that they would like to see a legislator carry. Students will be able to lobby for their issue directly with legislators.
Students will understand what a special interest is and how it impacts legislation and policy. They will understand how “big money” interacts with politics and how private citizens can engage their government. Students will also understand what Super PAC’s are and how lobbying efforts can create conflicting priorities for our legislators.
Essential Questions & Main Ideas:
How can ordinary students ensure their voice is represented in their government? What are special interests and how do they impact policy, law, and the priorities of a country?
Students will work to become citizen lobbyist that can challenge the increasing amount of money in elections through self-advocacy and developing a political voice.
Duration of Unit: 4-5 days for lesson, 1 day for discussion with legislators. This does not include the teacher’s work to set up a day with legislators.
This lesson is based on the NM legislature, but can easily be modified for any state. It also requires establishing a date for legislators to come to the school and may require students to be excused from class to host a “lobbying day/town hall.” In order to establish a date for a town hall, legislators need at least a two month notice and regular reminders about the town hall. It is best to use the state senators and representatives from the surrounding districts of your school. This will require you to get on your state’s legislature website and identify what districts feed into your school.
It is essential to identify a bill or law from your state legislature to serve as a model for the types of problems your state is trying to fix. For example, the bill I use in my class attempts to solve the teaching shortage in New Mexico through a grant program to help EA’s to become teachers.