Take your legislator to school helps make policy tangible.“All across the country, people are talking about teachers more than they’re talking with them. We seem to want everyone involved in the business of education design except educators,” said Andrew Morrill, President of the Arizona EducationAug 02, 2015
Take your legislator to school helps make policy tangible.
“All across the country, people are talking about teachers more than they’re talking with them. We seem to want everyone involved in the business of education design except educators,” said Andrew Morrill, President of the Arizona Education Association.
With a bold statement like Morrill’s, it’s wise to wonder what’s being done to merge the gap between policymakers and educators. For this reason, the Arizona Educational Foundation, Rodel Foundation, Arizona K12 Center, and the Arizona Education Association joined together to host Arizona’s first-ever Take Your Legislator to School initiative.
Fortunately, six months after it’s launch in September 2014, there’s still a buzz about the opportunity to bring legislators into the classroom.
Karen Brisbane is a fourth- and fifth-grade teacher at Kiva Elementary School in the Scottsdale Unified School District. The National Board Certified Teacher says her students continue to reference Representative Kate Brophy McGee’s classroom visit, especially as the fourth-graders delve into Arizona history and civics.
“We recently visited the Arizona State Capitol and hoped to see Representative McGee. Unfortunately, our schedules did not match. But, another classroom toured the building on another day and was able to see her, “ Brisbane explained.
During her visit, Brisbane said the representative was able to discuss an upcoming field trip to JA BizTown, an interactive learning experience hosted by Junior Achievement of Arizona, which tasks students to run and manage a simulated city. According to the educator, the topic sparked great conversations, generating innovative conversations between the policymaker and the elementary-school students.
While visiting in September, the policymaker spent two hours in Brisbane’s classroom observing an interactive science lesson on weather. In addition, she ate lunch with teachers and members of the Kiva Parent Teacher Organization, where she was able to confer with attendees about their educational questions and concerns.
Though District 11 Representative McGee says she enjoyed the entire experience, she admits she enjoyed the students most.
“The children were very inquisitive, engaged and funny. I was so impressed by the project the kids were working on,” the legislator said. “One of the children was a real entrepreneur. He had the concepts of product development and sales down pat.”
Both Brisbane and Representative McGee say they’d participate in Take Your Legislator to School again if the opportunity presents itself.
“A lot has changed in education since my days on the school board and I needed to see how those changes plays out in the classroom,” she said. “It helps me as a policymaker to be in the classroom. I so appreciate and respect the work of great teachers like Ms. Brisbane, and it’s fun to watch the learning and motivation they make happen every day.”
Though the educator acknowledges not much has occurred since the visit, she is grateful a connection was made. Brisbane says her students are able to grasp the role and duties of a legislator in a more tangible and real way. Also, from an adult perspective, she believes a relationship was created and will continue to grow over time, which she hopes will benefit Arizona education entirely.
According to Arizona Educational Foundation Executive Director, Bobbie O’Boyle, Take Your Legislator to School will continue next year with hopes of augmented participation.
“We definitely plan to continue the initiative with our goal being 100 percent participation by the state’s 90 legislators,” said O’Boyle.
Visit Take Your Legislator to School for more information and updates.