DAVID STODDARD & ALAINA CROWELL
The death penalty. The opioid crisis. Legalizing prostitution.
While these topics seem unrelated, they all are under profound debate in the U.S. Congress. Social studies teacher Rose Ann Hardy’s Contemporary Issues class at EL, attempted to tackle these issues at Model Congress.
On the class’s annual trip to Washington, D.C. (Nov. 19-24), the participating students witnessed how laws are passed in Congress by creating a Model Congress with multiple schools.
Each student was put into a smaller group of separate committees that focused on a broad topic that corresponded with their individual proposed bill.
Senior Rain Fulcher proposed a bill that would legalize sex work, or prostitution.
“Criminalization forces many people, especially women, into prison when they needed a job or even rehabilitation,” said Fulcher. “My bill centralized sex work into brothels rather than letting sex workers self-employ or work under corrupt pimps.”
Senior Jack Lebeau created a bill that tackled the opioid crisis.
“The specific bill was to create a task force to combat the online sale of opioids within our borders,” said Lebeau.
Committees began by presenting arguments for or against a bill. As the Model Congress only lasted three days, not every participant got to hear their specific bill debated over, but each was voted on and possibly amended. Fulcher’s passed with an amendment to incentivize states to adopt the bill, and Lebeau’s passed as well.
Passed bills underwent a similar debating process in full session, with discussions lasting around 30 minutes.
For Ms. Hardy, the best part of the Contemporary Issues class is witnessing the flow of different ideas and perspectives.
“There is a two-generation gap between my students and I. I can teach them about history and they can teach me about current events,” said Ms. Hardy.