What Would Happen If 8th Graders Wrote Our Laws?

DSC_0303Each year, the 8th grade class at Providence spends some of their classroom time carefully developing a Proposal of Law.  The Proposal of Law is the highest level in the Progymnasmata, the series of writing and speaking exercises variously developed in the ancient world and used for over 2000 years to educate the scholars of Western Civilization.  These exercises help students develop excellent writing, rhetoric, and critical thinking skills.   Writing a Proposal of Law requires thorough investigation, anticipation of opposing questions, and a keen eye for the means of persuasion.  But it is not just a theoretical classroom exercise.  At Providence, the 8th grade students travel and present their work to a Missouri State Representative.

The 8th grade Proposal of Law for the 2013-2014 school year advocated giving citizens the option of redirecting a portion of their property tax to accredited private schools and home school associations in their community.  Providence 8th grade students traveled to the Missouri state capital in Jefferson City where they were able to briefly present the proposal to state Representative Genise Montecillo, and personally defend it against her questions.  While in Jefferson City, the students also were given the opportunity to observe the state legislature floor, tour the Capitol Building and Jefferson Landing, and view exhibits in the Missouri State Museum.  The trip proved to be a wonderful opportunity for them to learn more of the history Missouri, tour the Capitol, observe the state government in action, and practice exercising the American citizens’ right of petition.

A few years ago, the 8th grade class from the 2008-2009 school year saw their 8th grade Proposal of Law become a house bill, HB 476, establishing the “Students First Interscholastic Athletics Act” which requires every high school age student in Missouri to have the opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics.

Providence 8th grade Proposals of Law have included:

2008-2009 – Allowing every high school age student the opportunity to participate in interscholastic athletics
2009-2010 – Private school tuition reimbursement from property taxes
2010-2011 – Allowing more rights to parents
20011-2012 – Avoiding Eminent Domain abuse by government provision of legal council to property owners asked to relinquish land
2012-2013 – Limits on medical malpractice lawsuits (involving an equation to decide the cap)
2013-2014 – Application to distribute a portion of property tax into private educational institutions