Bill would encourage hands-on civics program

This letter originally appeared in the Rochester Post Bulletin on March 7, 2019

Bill would encourage hands- on civics program

This is a thanks and expansion of the Post Bulletin’s March 4 editorial on the importance of civic learning. Rochester’s Sen. Carla Nelson also has joined with Republicans and DFLers in the state Senate and House to co-sponsor Senate File 1243, a bill on service-learning. This is a “hands-on” approach to civics that brings this sometimes boring subject alive for many students. For example, students:

  • Study local history, then interview veterans and other participants in major recent events. They publish those interviews for others to read.
  • Interview candidates and prepare a voters’ guide.
  • Study ecology and then help increase recycling in their school or neighborhood.
  • Explore careers by interviewing business and community people about why they picked their job/career and what advice they’d give others.

University of Minnesota research shows that service-learning helps increase the amount students learn. It also helps produce better attitudes toward their community and being an active, positive participant in it.

Sen. Nelson’s bill would support three meetings around the state where educators, community members and students discuss these ideas. It also provides startup grants. The bill encourages the kind of learning that students need.

Bipartisan support for this bill is another example of what produced Minnesota’s wonderful laws allowing high school students to earn free college credit.

Thanks to Sen. Nelson for encouraging greater civic knowledge Thanks also for encouraging the sharing and support that will produce more knowledgeable, constructive citizens.

Joe Nathan,

Director of the Center for School Change, St. Paul