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  • Jane Andrade
    Director of Public Affairs
  • Jon Kuhl
    Manager of Public Affairs and Media
    Washington, D.C.
Sept. 19, 2011

State Legislators Bring Their Chamber to the Classroom

Roughly 1,200 state lawmakers grab their notebooks, classroom handouts and educational videos and head off to school for America’s Legislators Back to School Program.

DENVER – For over a decade, state legislators have made it a tradition to teach young people—the nation's future voters and leaders—what it's like to serve as an elected official.

Lawmakers of both political parties visit classrooms in elementary, middle and high schools across the country to talk about the legislative process and bring civics to life for students as part of the America’s Legislators Back to School Program.

This program was founded in 1999 as a one-day activity as part of the Trust for Representative Democracy at the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). Since then, the program has grown to a year-round event and has reached more than 2 million students. It kicks off the third week of September and runs throughout the school year. The 2011 Back to School Program will start Monday, Sept. 19.

“Through NCSL’s Back to School program, state legislators make government more accessible and approachable. By going into the classroom, legislators help establish confidence and respect between students and lawmakers,” said Kansas Senate President Stephen Morris, president of NCSL. “Who knows what these early interactions might inspire among our young citizens? I commend my colleagues across the country for taking part in such a rewarding and productive program."

Over the past decade, NCSL has distributed close to 3 million copies of materials about representative democracy for legislators to use in their presentations to K-12 classes. NCSL also provides training, promotional strategies and organizational support.

Surveys conducted by NCSL's Trust for Representative Democracy show that Hawaii, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Utah and Virginia are among the top states for legislator participation in America's Legislators Back to School Program over the past few years. To find out which legislators will be participating in the Back to School Project in 2011, please contact the state's back to school coordinator.

The America's Legislators Back to School Programs is endorse by several major education associations, including:

American Association of School Administrators
American Federation of Teachers
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
Center for Civic Education
Center on Congress at Indiana University
Close Up Foundation
Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy
National Association of Elementary School Principals
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
National Catholic Educational Association
National Constitution Center
National Council for the Social Studies
National Education Association
National Middle School Association
National School Boards Association
Reading Recovery Council of North America
The Dirksen Congressional Center

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.