I think North Dakota should legalize gay marriage, and polling trends suggest that North Dakotans are becoming increasingly sympathetic to doing just that,but what’s becoming tiring is North Dakota’s school kids pushing legislation.
It started as cute little publicity stunts – elementary students pushing for a bill to name a state bug with guidance from their teacher – and has quickly morphed into what appears to be educators pushing political agendas under the guise of teaching their students about government.
Case in point, Bismarck High School social studies teacher Robin Nein has a group of her students emailing legislators with a bill (see below) to legalize gay marriage.
Here’s the email from the students, sent by Nein to legislators:
North Dakota Legislators,
We, as a committee of six Bismarck High School students, are contacting you in regards to a bill we have created for our summer government class that we would like to pass through the legislature. Attached, you will find a copy of the bill we have drafted. We would greatly appreciate your time and feedback on this issue. We would like to invite you to our school, 800 N. 8th St., Bismarck, ND, this Friday, June 23, 2013, between the hours of eight and ten o’clock to hear our defense proposal. We would appreciate if you are able to come or if this time does not work for you, but you would still be interested in meeting with us at a later time, please contact our instructor, Robin Nein, at [redacted].
Somer Belverstone, Jaden Brandner, Sierra Deringer, Katrina Engelhardt, Nicole Everitt, Dan Heiden
Bismarck High School
Co- Advisor Student Council
Key Club Advisor
Gay marriage is an extremely controversial issue, and it’s simply not appropriate to have students using school resources to lobby for it. I mean, what’s next, teacher advisers suggesting their students propose legislation to increase teacher pay?
Is this really something the students are pushing, or is it the political agenda of their teacher?
That’s a valid question, as we don’t let high school-age kids vote in elections because we don’t feel they’re old enough to make decisions about the candidates and issue on the ballot. But we’re going to let them engage in political activism as a classroom project? Keep in mind, what’s a classroom project to these kids is potential policy the rest of us have to live with.
We are becoming entirely too flippant when it comes to public policy.
It’s also hard to defend this exercise in classroom activism as a valid lesson given that the students are proposing a bill to amend the state constitution. The legislature can’t amend the constitution. The legislature can only pass a resolution to place an amendment on the ballot for the people.
If teaching the kids the legislative process is really what this is about, the teacher isn’t doing a very good job of it. It’s a little embarrassing that the teacher doesn’t even know that the proper route would be to initiate a ballot measure to amend the constitution.
Earlier this year I had to contact my daughter’s science teacher after I learned that one of her classroom projects was to write a letter to the Mayor of Minot advocating for mandatory recycling. This nonsense has got to stop.
The legislature should shoot down this bill, and replace it with legislation outlawing lobbying by schoolchildren. Because this sort of thing is so egregiously inappropriate it ought to be out-of-bounds.