Last Friday at Revere High School (RHS) Speaker Robert DeLeo was on hand to announce an exciting new program that will partner his office with students from the high school.
The Civic Engagement Project is a high school program organized by Speaker Deleo’s Office, which aims to better educate RHS students on the functions of the Massachusetts State Legislature and ensure youths are “prepared for the duties of citizenship”.
The new curriculum is required under the Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement–a new law that was passed on Beacon Hill last year.
“Today, I’m proud to announce the Revere High School Civic Engagement Project,” said Speaker DeLeo at RHS last Friday. “Starting in November, we will be organizing a series of field trips to the State House for Revere High School 9th grade and 12th grade Advanced Placement students. Our goal is to provide presentations and hands-on seminars on the history and the role of the state legislature, understanding the legislative process and how a bill becomes a law, and how to communicate effectively with legislators.”
DeLeo said through the new program the day in the State House will include interaction with various members of the legislature and legislative staff, and a student-led legislative hearing.
“We’ll also host a mock session in the Chamber of the House of Representatives where students will be able to use what they have learned to actively experience the legislative process,” said DeLeo. “ I hope that you’ll be inspired by this opportunity to see the work that we do in the State House and that it might help you to find your voice, as it’s the voice of citizens that make our democracy work.”
DeLeo said that in recent years there has been a renewed focus on the importance of civics education.
“No one appreciates that more than the public servants who represent Revere and serve as the voice of our community,” he said. “I believe civics education to be vital to a functioning democracy. In Massachusetts, our schools and our communities are deeply intertwined. Our state has a rich history of preserving local voice via our elected school committees who are charged with establishing educational goals and policies for their local school district, so it’s wonderful to see our school committee members joining us today as well.”
At last week’s event DeLeo said through civics education some students sitting in the audience on Friday may end up as Speaker of the House one day and make changes that are meaningful to the state and country.
“I’ve served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 1991 and became Speaker of the House in January of 2009,” said DeLeo. “I am proud to say that under my leadership the House has addressed critical issues facing our Commonwealth from stricter gun laws, fighting the opioid crisis, and providing support to the most vulnerable among us.”
DeLeo said civics engagement is one of the important issues the House has taken up in recent years because it will reach a new generation eager to change the world.
“As many of you know, in recent years students and young people have become increasingly more involved in public activism, raising their voices against gun violence, bullying and transgender rights,” said DeLeo. “As students, you are ideally positioned to advocate on improving policies that affect you directly, and your voices provide invaluable insight. But in order to help find your voice and become an active participant in a democracy, it’s important that you be given the opportunity to share your views, ideas and perspectives and engage in meaningful discourse. What better place to start than in the classroom?”
In 2018 DeLeo joined his colleagues in the legislature to pass An Act to Promote and Enhance Civic Engagement – a bipartisan civics education bill that became state law.
“As a result, roughly one million Massachusetts students will receive more comprehensive, hands-on civics instruction,” said DeLeo. “This law provides opportunities for hands-on learning, urges students to think more broadly about civic duty, how to analyze policy issues and consider differing points of view. It also requires students to demonstrate an understanding of the connections between federal, state and local policies and issues that impact the school or community.”
DeLeo said given the new civics education law and level of interest his office receives from high school students, he wanted to help students understand the role of state government and how it impacts community so I reached out to Revere School Superintendent Dr. Dianne Kelley to form the partnership that was announced last Friday.
By the end of the program Revere students will understand the history and the role of the Massachusetts Legislature; understand the legislative process and how a bill becomes a law; understand the Massachusetts State Budget process and how it goes from the Governor to the House and the Senate as well as conference committees and Governor vetoes; and will learn how to effectively communicate with legislators and elected officials.