DCALS-North Students Visit the Capitol!

DCALS-North Students Visit the Capitol!
Posted on 03/14/2023
DCALS-North Students at the Speaker Desk

On Tuesday, 3/14/23, DCALS-North teachers Matt Bruns and Jamie Swanson accompanied five students to the Minnesota Capitol to fully engage in the current events they are studying in class.  Throughout the third quarter, students have been exploring issues such as author bias, political bias and motive, loaded language, political issues, and popular party positions. To prepare for their visit to the Capitol, students visited the Bias Inside Us exhibit at the Science Museum of Minnesota and practiced persuasive pitches one-on-one with Elizabeth Emerson of GOFF Public, a public relations and advocacy firm.

Tuesday was a busy day!  First, students met with Representative Mary Frances Clardy who represents the newly redrawn District 53A in which DCALS-North is located.  Rep. Clardy was elected to the Minnesota House Representatives in November 2022 after a long career in public education as an educator, educational leader, and disability advocate.  Most recently, she served on the ISD 199 (Inver Grove Heights-Mendota Heights-Eagan) school board.  During the students’ visit, Rep. Clardy shared her personal story and connected  with the students.   In turn, students shared persuasive arguments about political issues that are important to them.  Rep. Clardy took notes and responded to each student's issue before inviting them to attend the Education Finance Committee meeting.  

To get there, the group navigated the underground tunnel system between the State Office Building and the Capitol building, were given carte blanche of the House Chamber, and learned about the architecture, caucus layout, and retiring room.  DCALS-North students were given a shout-out at the beginning of the Education Finance Committee meeting, then they observed bill introduction and initial debate and asked thoughtful questions of the committee. 

Next, students met with a legislative aide for Senator Erin Maye Quade who represents District 56, where the ISD 917 district office and a number of our programs are located.  Sen. Quade was unavailable due to a family emergency, but her office welcomed our students and engaged them in conversation about governmental issues before they went to the Senate Gallery to watch the final amendments and debate surrounding the Universal School Meals Bill. 

 Seated in the gallery, students observed the introduction of amendments and were able to analyze why a particular author would offer up specific amendments. They were also keen at identifying the loaded language in context and were able to articulate what appeal a particular word or phrase had, including words like “shame” and “socialism”.  While they were unable to see the final vote, they learned of the passage of the Universal School Meals Bill from social media while they ate lunch together.

Thank you to teachers Matt Bruns and Jamie Swanson for collaborating to provide this opportunity for DCALS-North students!  This innovative experience helped students strengthen their empathy, understand the roles of government in stewardship and integrity, identify the strength of and nuances in communication, and the roles of elected officials and legislation in supporting equity and diversity.