Thursday, May 11, 2006

Students exercise political clout

TheStar.com - Students exercise political clout

I was reading the paper today on the way home from work when I came accross an inspirational story about teaching.

Here is an excerpt from the article in the Toronto Star:

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Recycling bins will be as much a part of Ontario classrooms as desks and blackboards if Georgetown students get their way.

"For some kids, recycling is not a big issue because it doesn't immediately pertain to them," said Dylan Hickson, in Grade 9 at Georgetown District Secondary School. " But if it's convenient to recycle, then they'll do it."

Its proposed legislation — requiring recycling bins for paper and blue box items, like aluminium cans and plastics, in every classroom — made history yesterday when it passed second reading in the Legislature.

Two other student-drafted bills, brought forward by MPPs as private members, also got unanimous support from all parties yesterday.
"Not only will this benefit our generation but it will benefit next generations by showing ... if you believe in something it can be done," said Kevin Robbie, also in Grade 9.

Liberal MPP Kathleen Wynne (Don Valley West) introduced the recycling bill.

New Democrat Andrea Horwath (Hamilton East), introduced a bill worked on by Cardinal Carter Secondary School students in Aurora, requiring employers to tell student workers their basic labour rights.


Tory MPP Frank Klees (Oak Ridges) introduced a bill drafted by Nupur Dogra, of Iroquois Ridge High School in Oakville, requiring schools to educate students about healthy food choices. This Making the Grade project was spearheaded by CBC television reporter Mike Wise, to engage students in politics. It's worked.

"It was amazing. Oh, wow, it's like, indescribable. I loved it," said Dogra, 15.

"A lot of students now see that they can get involved in the political process."

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The inspiration comes from the time and effort not just one, but many teachers undertook so that these students could benefit from a truly educational experience. It is one thing to learn how legislation is works its way through the legislative process in order to become law in a textbook. But it is inspirational when politicians and their bureaucrats are willing to meet with students and draft effective legislation.

Not only that, the politicians have picked up the legislation and the bills have passed two readings in an actual duly elected legislative body (the Legislative Assembly of Ontario). The students were even invited to Queen's Park (the home of the Ontario Legislature) to meet with the Premier of Ontario and other MPPs as well as watch votes on the bills that the student's drafted.

Congratulations to these teachers for taking the time and energy to provide this enriching opportunity for their students. Also a big congratulations to the students for drafting and refining such great legislation that professional politicians are willing to put it forth in a duly elected legislative assembly.

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