In his 1938 work Experience and Education, John Dewey (one of the founders of Progressive education) outlines his philosophy of experiential education. He described that learning most effectively happens through experience, through being hands-on and actually doing something, and then reflecting on and learning from that experience. Just before Thanksgiving, about a quarter of our High School student body attended Kentucky Youth Assembly (KYA), a mock legislative experience, and engaged in some rich hands-on learning.
Schools can present one bill per 15 students attending, so SFS brought three to the conference. The conference delegates (all the student attendees) vote on which bills should be taken to Frankfort (literally; they travel there the second day of the conference) and debated in the KYA House and Senate. This year, our three bills were as follows:
- An Act to Remove Discriminatory Workplace Codes on Natural Hairstyles for People of Color (Authors: Osaz Omoruyi, Michael Crinot, and Ben Cornett)
- An Act Relating to Taxes on Feminine Hygiene Products (the “Pink Tax”) (Authors: Ellie Westfall, Lucy Johnson, and Alex Horner)
- An Act Relating to Abortion Access in Kentucky (Authors: Grace Donovan and Caroline Frederick)
The first two bills were among the 8-10 chosen (from dozens presented by attending schools) for debate in Frankfort! Our students then worked hard crafting their persuasive arguments to convince their fellow delegates to pass the bills – and they were successful! Both bills passed and were signed into (KYA) law. The third bill was debated later at the conference, as all not chosen to go to Frankfort are, and was also approved via delegate vote. As a result of all this work, SFS was honored with the conference’s one and only “Outstanding Bill Packet” award in recognition of the excellent work done by our authors on writing compelling legislation and convincing their fellow delegates to vote for it.
Our Wyvern delegation returned to school with a deeper understanding of the legislative process, of how to write and speak persuasively, and of how to work with others to find consensus and advance interests. I think John Dewey would be proud!