In classrooms across Oklahoma, students are getting a chance to meet their state senators and find out exactly what it is that the legislature does. Its part of a national program called Americas Legislators Back to School Week.
The bipartisan program, sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures is aimed at helping students of all ages learn more about state government and their role in a representative democracy. Last year 2,500 state legislators from 48 states participated.
In addition to helping educate young people about civics, the program has another goal; to help turn around a trend towards less involvement by young people in the electoral process. According to an NCSL report, in 1972 50 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted, but in the 2000 election, only 33 percent went to the polls.
State Senator Cal Hobson, slated to become the Senates next President Pro Tempore, is among the state legislators spending time at local schools this week.
Most kids can tell you how many years, months and days it will be until they are old enough to drive. Wouldnt it be fantastic if they were just as excited about getting to vote for the first time?
During a visit to Lexington Intermediate School, Senator Hobson answered questions from students ranging from what it is a state legislator does to questions about a state lottery.
Im always impressed by the kinds of questions the children have. The key is to encourage that interest and show them that their opinions and ideas count. Its important for students to realize how fortunate they are to live in a democracy. But our democracy only works when people get involved, said Hobson.