House Bill 175: “This Act allows one excused absence per school year for students grades 6 through 12 to attend civic engagements such as visits to the United States Capitol, Legislative Hall and sites of political and cultural significance, or participation in a rally, march, protest, or walkout.”. What is the beauty of this bill? It gives students civic engagement awareness and opportunity to use their voice.

Most of the decisions in education are made by adults. At least that was the case until recently when some of our brave local students attempted to influence equity changes in curriculum and academic opportunities at their schools and state level. DelawareCAN celebrates State Representative Eric Morrison and this step in bringing engagement opportunities to our younger generation. This bill will allow students to use school time to engage in their local government and become immersed in using the power of their presence and voice.

HB175 was recently reported out of the Senate Education Committee and is now awaiting a vote by the full Senate.

As a grassroots organization that focuses on community engagement in education, in our trainings, we have found that most of our high school students have little or no understanding of the power they hold to influence civics even at an early age. This bill gives students an opportunity to question laws and start asking themselves “why is this a law,” “why for us” and “how can we do anything to change our own circumstances as students in our schools and also in our state?”

The lessons our students have at school about civic involvement seem to be routine lessons of theory history. It nourishes them academically but feels detached from the experience of what it actually feels like to influence legislators or participate in events where big decisions are made.

State Representative Eric Morrison brings an open door for our 6-12 graders to take hold of their one-day break from school to make a difference by attending an advocacy day, talking with a legislator or being part of a civic community event. With that they have the opportunity to feel great about participating, feel powerful and have the capacity to influence the rules that govern their families and their communities.

As with anything, the work ahead to make things right in education at these times is crucial and this legislation is a great asset to get the community involved in the decisions that affect their daily lives.

When Representative Morrison shared this bill with me, I was thrilled. I remembered seeing him run his campaign not long ago to become an elected official who gives voice to the people he represents in his district and beyond. Now he is carrying out that spirit to make Delaware a state that has its constituents, especially young learners, intentionally involved in their local governance at an early age. That is the kind of attitude that embraces a government led by the people. Great work Representative Morrison!

At DelawareCAN we continue to push for transformational changes that will build an educational system that prepares our students for the ever-evolving future. This legislation helps give our younger generations the opportunity to engage and take ownership in these critical decisions.


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