Students Critical of Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles have been getting some attention from local, state, and national levels. Companies such as Google, Uber, and General Motors have begun testing this new technology. LegiSchool’s Town Hall on autonomous vehicles gave students the opportunity to voice their concerns and ask challenging questions to a panel of knowledgeable experts.

In order to prepare the students for the topic, they were given a curriculum guide. Included in the guide is a thorough introduction to autonomous vehicles; as well as activities for students to start thinking critically about this emerging technology. These curriculum guides can also serve as a great tool for students who are unable to attend the Town Halls in person.

During the Town Hall panel, most students were hesitant to embrace autonomous vehicles, and this was voiced through their critical questions of the panelists. The dialogue gave the policy experts some ideas on what students worried about most (liability, ethical dilemmas, safety and the future of licensing). By the end of the panel, some students left with a different view, while others continued to voice concerns.

After lunch, students were welcomed by Capitol staffers and led on tours throughout the Capitol. Students had the privilege of visiting the Assembly and Senate Galleries, as well as locating their member’s offices.

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Many thanks to our panelists that participated (left to right):

  • Captain Sean Duryee, Commander of Commercial Vehicle Section for the California CHP
  • Lieutenant Reggie Williams, Government Relations for the California CHP
  • Juanita Martinez, Western Regional Manager for General Motors
  • Brian Soublet, Chief Counsel and Deputy Director for the California DMV

And a special shout out to our schools that traveled from across Northern and Central California to attend: Kingsburg High School, San Lorenzo High School and Madera South High School. We hope to be working with even more schools in the future!

Interested in participating in our Town Halls or utilizing our free curriculum guides? Email legischool@csus.edu to sign up for updates.

Engaging Students in Tobacco Policy

December’s Town Hall meeting was a success! Approximately 120 students from across Northern California gathered at the Tsakopoulous Library Galleria a few blocks from the Capitol. Our Interim Director Elisia Hoffman served as the moderator, while the students and panelists critically asked questions of one another relating to tobacco policy.

Our distinguished panelists answered a variety of students’ questions, ranging from new policies on e-cigarettes, to perspectives on the effect of cigarette taxation. Panelists also brought their own questions and asked students to think about the changing culture of youth’s views on tobacco. The purpose of LegiSchool’s Town Halls is to engage students in matters of public policy that are important to Californians. And I felt this Town Hall was a perfect example of LegiSchool’s mission, vision and intent.

Students were given a curriculum guide to deepen their understanding of the topic. Our guides are a great way to bring current and state issues into the classroom. They can also be of good use to students who are unable to attend the Town Hall in person.

In addition to the Town Hall meeting, students had the opportunity to be given a tour by alumni Capitol Fellows and visit the Senate Floor. A lucky group of students were also able to visit their members’ offices and speak with a Legislative Director!

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Many thanks to the engaging group of panelists:

• Dr. Angelo Williams, Director of the California Black Health Network
• Kim Chen, Government Affairs Manager at the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network
• Madeleine Cooper, Legislative Director for Assemblymember Harper
• David Wolfe, Legislative Director at the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

And shout out to the participating high schools: Cordova High, Mt. Eden, JFK (Fremont) and Elk Creek Jr/Sr High School. We are looking forward to our February Town Hall meeting on driverless cars!

2016-17 Opportunities

The LegiSchool Project is pleased to announce our 2016-17 programming, where we will again strive to get students to“learn by doing”. Through our activities, students can experience state government first-hand, and we urge them to think critically about issues that are important to Californians. By focusing on topics that directly impact students, we hope to motivate young people to take an interest in the public life around them and to encourage their active participation in our political process.

This year we are tackling the timely topics of how the state regulates tobacco use and driverless vehicles in our December and February Town Halls. In addition, we will continue to host our increasingly popular annual contests as well as our summer civics internship at the State Capitol. More program details can be found in our newsletter.

Right now, juniors and seniors around the state are invited to enter our essay contest. The topic is whether the school day should start later. The top 10 essayists receive roundtrip travel to the State Capitol to meet with legislators and other state leaders and share their thoughts and opinions. The postmark deadline for essays is November 18.

Announcing Our Photo Contest Winners!

The caliber of photos we received in this year’s “California Through My Eyes” contest was pretty amazing. Our judges had no small task in trying to select our winner and runners-up, all of whom received a cash prize. In addition, the judges helped select about 60 photos to be named for honorable mention. The final results (showcased below) are pretty incredible and illustrate the diversity and wonder of the state of California! You can also see all of these photos on display at the State Capitol building, starting June 20. They’ll be located on the third floor of the annex.

Hundreds of student photographers participated from 54 high school around the state, submitting not only their photo but an essay describing how their photo represents California. We want to thank the schools, districts and legislative offices that helped spread the word about the contest, which we hope allows students to exercise their creativity while thinking critically about what California means to them.

GRAND PRIZE WINNER ($150)

Puente
EMELY PUENTE, Bellflower High School

Emely was selected as the grand prize winner for her photo, Lost in Thought, a portrait of her grandfather sitting at his home. As she notes, her grandparents “made themselves a part of California when they arrived in the early 70’s. They had to support their 8 children together so they made a living as strawberry pickers, working as a mechanic and being a housemaid…My generation will never understand what it is like to struggle – we get things handed down to us instead of earning it. This is California through my eyes.”

RUNNERS – UP ($100), in alphabetical order  Continue reading “Announcing Our Photo Contest Winners!”

Photo Contest Highlights

Every year, LegiSchool hosts our California Through My Eyes Photo contest, where we ask students to step behind the lens and capture an image that represents California. One grand prize winner  and four runners-up receive cash prizes. All winning photos and honorable mention entries are displayed at the Capitol during the summer.

Our contest is now open, so we decided to use this occasion and highlight some of the amazing photos we have received over the last few years: Continue reading “Photo Contest Highlights”