For Immediate Release
September 9, 2004


Senator Carlene M. Walker

Representative Chad E. Bennion

Legislators Get Ready to Teach and Learn

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah students will learn how representative democracy works during America's Legislators Back to School Week, September 20-24.

Legislators will teach these future voters and leaders what it's like to serve as an elected official: the processes, the pressures, and the debate, negotiation and compromise that are the fabric of representative democracy. Organizers of the event want students to value public service and be involved in the political process. They also want legislators to learn what is important to students. Materials that legislators will leave with students echo the theme of the event, "Your Ideas Count."

Senator Carlene M. Walker, Senate spokesperson for the program looks forward to visiting schools every year. "It keeps me in touch with teachers and students and gives them a chance to see who represents them. The legislature tackles issues that have direct impact on their lives. Identity theft, guns in schools, DUI laws, driver education, and school uniforms spark some lively classroom discussions. Students and teachers are excited to give input to their own legislator."

Utah is one of the top three states nationwide in legislator participation. Legislators brought civics to life for 16,500 students in 165 Utah schools last year. Teachers and principals are encouraged to invite legislators into their schools again this year.

House spokesman Representative Chad Bennion emphasizes that we are all part of the governing process. "It's great to work with the students in the classroom because our government derives its power from the participation of every citizen. 'We the People' is as important today as it was over 200 years ago."

America's Legislators Back to School Week is a product of the National Conference of State Legislatures civic education initiative, Trust for Representative Democracy. NCSL is the bipartisan organization that serves legislators and staffs of all the states. It provides research and opportunities for policy makers to exchange ideas on pressing state issues. NCSL also represents and fights for state interests in our federal system.

Other partners in the America's Legislators Back to School Week include: The American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Center on Congress at Indiana University, Close Up Foundation, Freedom's Answer, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Catholic Educational Association, National Constitution Center, National Council for the Social Studies, National Education Association, National Middle School Association, National School Boards Association, Reading Recovery Council of North America, and The Dirksen Congressional Center.

More information about America's Legislators Back to School Week is available at /lrgc/backtoschool.htm.

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You can reach the Event Coordinator, Shelley Day, at 801-326-1600.