America's Legislators Back to School Program
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the America's Legislators Back to School Program?
How is the event organized?
How can I get involved?
Can we change the date?
Is the event geared to a specific grade level?
What kinds of resource materials are available?
Do educators support this event?
How is the project being evaluated?
Who are the NCSL contacts?
What is the America's Legislators Back to School Program? Slated to "kick off" the third week of every September, this special program gives elected officials in all 50 states the opportunity to meet personally with their young constituents and to answer questions, share ideas, listen to concerns and impart a greater understanding of the legislative processes necessary for developing effective public policy.
Sponsored by the National Conference of State Legislatures, the America's Legislators Back to School Program is designed to teach young people--the nation's future voters and leaders--what it's like to be a state legislator: the processes, the pressures, and the debate, negotiation and compromise that are the very fabric of representative democracy. NCSL emphasizes that the America's Legislators Back to School Program is a bipartisan event. Legislators of both political parties are urged to participate in this national event and to tell the story of representative democracy in America.
NCSL introduced the America's Legislators Back to School program in 1999, as a one-day event, to provide a contemporary approach for engaging the American student population in understanding the value of democracy. It was a great success and was enthusiastically received by both legislators and schools. The program was so productive and compelling that it was expanded into a one-week event in 2001 and a year long program in 2005. In 2004, more than 1,400 state lawmakers visited an estimated 320,000 students in their classrooms.
The America's Legislators Back to School Program is a program of the NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures Trust for Representative Democracy, which seeks to improve public understanding and support of our nation's democratic institutions. With the goal of helping to instill the values of representative democracy, strengthen the democratic process and encourage young Americans to play an active role in their government, the project speaks to youth in their own language about their own concerns.
How is the event organized? NCSL provides training, resources and materials, promotion strategies and organizational support. The legislative leaders of each state have been asked to appoint a state legislative coordinator to work with the legislators to develop a specific state plan to implement the program. State coordinators will also serve as liaisons with NCSL, assist in the distribution of materials and help evaluate the program.
How can I get involved? Leaders in each state have appointed state legislative coordinators who are responsible for implementing a state plan for America's Legislators Back to School Program in their state. Legislators and other groups interested in state specific activities should contact their designated state coordinator. If you want a legislator to visit and no coordinator is appointed for your state, you can contact your state legislators directly. To find out who represents you in your legislative district, check the following Web site and have your 9-digit zip code ready. http://www.vote-smart.org
Can we change the date? NCSL's national publicity for this event will focus on the third week of September as the "kick-off" for the program that will run throughout the school year. NCSL encourages flexibility in implementing the program in your state. Legislators and teachers are encouraged to schedule the classroom visits at times throughout the school year that work best for everyone involved. Contact your state coordinator to schedule a visit.
Is the event geared to a specific grade level? We do not target any particular grade level for the America's Legislators Back to School Program, although different states or individual legislators may wish to target specific grade levels. More information about specific grade level activities.
What kinds of resource materials are available? NCSL makes available, free of charge, publication and video resource materials for high school, middle/junior high school and elementary school students to be used by state legislators visiting classrooms in conjunction with the program. Online lesson plans for teachers are also available.
Back to School Program Materials Page
Online Lesson Plans
Do educators support this event? Yes. Premier education associations support The America's Legislators Back to School Program.
Back to School Program Materials
Back to School Program Partner Organizations
How is the project being evaluated? NCSL has prepared program evaluation forms for legislators, state coordinators, teachers/principals and students.
Back to School Program Evaluation Forms
Who are the NCSL contacts? NCSL staff contacts are Karl Kurtz, director of the Trust for Representative Democracy and Joyce Johnson, director's assistant. They may be reached at (303) 364-7700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Updated 9/15/09; 2/28/13