Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Citizenship: Teaching AND Living it

I am the PAGE representative for my elementary school.  PAGE is The Professional Association of Georgia Educators.  For those in other states, it is not a union.  It is access to legislative news, legal representation, should the need arise, and professional development.

I receive their legislative updates as soon as our General Assembly legislation session starts.  Bill 717, written by Representative Holt from District 112 of Social Circle, GA, proposed that parental involvement be tracked and given a grade, A to F.  It also proposed that each child's parental involvement grade be used as a factor in our newest teacher evaluation system.  The new system is less than equitable, as it makes it next to impossible to earn "exemplary".  We have been told to expect "proficient" or "needs development".  It puts undue pressure on students to move in lock-step with their peers as opposed to just making progress on an individual basis.  Additionally, it creates an inordinate amount of work for principals and vice principals to observe, document, and conference that many times each year.  Long story, shorter;  I wrote all of the representatives in the house and received a handful of replies.  While it looks like this exciting new bill might already be dead, :( it led me to start taking a larger interest in actively tracking proposed bills.

I stumbled upon an app and website, Open States:  Discover Politics in Your State.  I downloaded the app.  It is very user-friendly, but I did discover that you need to use the left toolbar instead of swiping the screens to go back to the main page.  I can see who my house and state representatives are, and I can look up and track proposed bills.  A tracker that tells the legislative status of a bill is in beta.  Open States is a product of Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group that uses the Internet to "catalyze greater openness and transparency" of our government.

Just as we teachers read great literature to encourage our students to read, so could we also take a greater interest in the workings of our government to teach greater citizenship by our students.  Our passions often become their passions, so look into this app as a tool to share a real-world experience in the classroom.  Great for 3rd and 4th grade Georgia government standards!

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