by Jan Goehring
The Washington Legislative Scholar Program offers social studies, civics and government teachers an opportunity to learn first hand about the legislative process. It is part of the Washington Legislature's commitment to civics and educating citizens about representative democracy. Teachers who have participated in the program find the on-site training at the capitol and the real-world experiences there to be invaluable.
Judi Best, Senate program coordinator, reports another successful summer seminar despite some challenges. In previous years, the program paid for the teachers' travel, hotel and meals. Due to some budget cuts, only some meals were covered this year. That didn't deter the teachers, however. The same number of teachers participated as last year when the expenses were covered.
"The reputation of the program is spreading. Every one of the experienced teachers said it was the best educational training they had ever had in all of their years of teaching," according to Best. The seminar also included three students from the Master of Teaching program at Seattle University who received credit from their faculty for attending. Best also says "the evaluations were once again fabulous, but they did ask us if we could expand the program to five days, at their expense! Probably the most exciting part is that the teachers are actually contacting us during session to arrange speakers, visits to the capitol, and materials for their classrooms." Teachers are using lesson plans that were either presented at the program or that are related to what they learned from the program.
Teachers are looking for this kind of quality training. Are other states willing to develop similar programs?