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Senate Bill 169 has passed both houses of the legislature and is now on its way to the governor’s desk.
Last year, the governor pocket vetoed this same bill.
We need to make the governor aware of the benefits that our boys and girls can derive from this legislation.
We need to contact her in every way possible to get our message to her, write a letter, send an email, send a fax, use letters to the editor, write a news article, contact “talk radio,” or make a phone call to the governor’s office.
Here are some of the reasons for the governor to sign this legislation into law.
Citizens are woefully ignorant of how our government works.
• People do not have an idea of what kind of government we have.
• Civics is not taught in New Mexico as a singular classroom unit. It is scattered in social studies over 13-year grade levels and pieces.
• The American Legion is an organization of military veterans that are concerned about the lack of interest in government. Hence, the programs to inform and teach young men and women the essentials of our form of government. Boys State and Girls State are sponsored by the American Legion and the American Legion Auxiliary to provide training and experience in how government is operated and how we govern ourselves.
• Boys and Girls State are the platform offered to the state to effectively educate a group of high school students in civics as a living course in government.
• Boys State and Girls State programs are weeklong, total immersion, programs provided to junior class students that have more than 50 classroom equivalent contact hours in course work. The course explains and involves students in government beginning with political parties, candidate selection, campaigning, elections, serving in office on a county, state and city levels. The boys and girls learn how law is made, what government provides, how much it costs, where the money comes from and how it is allocated.
• All three branches of government are in operation. A legislature is in session, all levels of the courts are working and the city fathers along with county commissioners and the governor with all state functions provide what we call our government.
This is what we can gain from the governor signing Senate Bill 169: an informed electorate.
I became so involved in extolling the benefits of Boys State and Girls State that I forgot to explain the reason for SB 169.
It provides the opportunity for high school juniors to obtain one semester of credit towards graduation by partaking in the one week of Boys State or Girls State. Eastern New Mexico University already grants three college credit hours for the course.
For all the work these students do in the programs, they should be rewarded.