What is the Legislators Back to School Program?
Legislators Back to School is a national civics program where state legislators visit classrooms to talk about the Legislature. (Click here to go to the America's Legislators Back to School Program website.) The program is designed to educate young people about what it is like to be a state legislator: the processes, the pressures, and the debate, negotiation and compromise. It is also an opportunity for legislators to let students know that their ideas count.
Surveys have found that a significant percentage of young people lack an understanding of American democracy and how to be an effective citizen. However, students who have studied civics or government are much more engaged and more likely to believe that they are personally responsible for making things better for society.
The program kicks-off in September and runs through the school year. Teachers and legislators find a date that works best with schedules. (Legislators are in session January through April.)
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is a bipartisan organization providing services to state lawmakers. The Back to School Program is one piece of NCSL’s new civic education initiative: the Trust for Representative Democracy. Based on the ideas and fundamental principles set forth by the framers of the Constitution, the Trust is designed to engage young people and build their understanding and support for America's democratic institutions.
Scheduling a Legislator to Visit Your Classroom is Easy!
- Find your legislator by typing your school's address in our district finder.
- Contact them. Invite a legislator into your classroom at least 3-4 weeks prior to the desired date of the visit. Most legislators have fulltime jobs in addition to their public service and family responsibilities, so don't be discouraged if your call isn't returned immediately. Once you are in communication with the legislator, discuss your lesson objective(s) for the visit and find out what they would feel most comfortable doing to help you to meet your goals.
- Prepare for the visit. Click here to access lesson plans for high school, middle school, and elementary students. Go here to see how these lesson plans correspond with Washington's EALRs and CBAs.
- Evaluate the program.
Lesson Plans & Materials
Many resources are available through the NCSL website to assist teachers and legislators with their civics lessons, including fun and educational program materials, several interactive civics-based lesson plans, and tips for effectively talking to students about goverment and representative democracy. You can also find out how these lesson plans and activities fulfill Washington's Essential Academic Learning Requirement(s) (EALRs) and how they can be used as part of Classroom-Based Assessments (CBAs).
- Teens' Guide to the Washington State Legislature
- Elementary Students' Guide to the Washington State Legislature
See how these fulfill Washington's EALRs
Additional Classroom Materials
Additional Lesson Plans
For more information about Washington's Legislators Back to School Program, contact:
House of Representatives:
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
PO Box 40482
Olympia, WA 98504-0482
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