Early Tuesday morning, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes testified before state lawmakers in favor of a study to check the health of civics education around Kentucky.
If she'd stayed at the House Education Committee meeting a little longer, she would have seen a pretty healthy example: A group of students persuaded the committee to support a change in the law so a student could sit on superintendent screening committees.
"We are the chief stakeholders in Kentucky education," said Sahil Nair, a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence's Student Voice Team and a student at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Lexington. "Shouldn't we at least be considered as partners at the decision-making table?"
In supporting House Bill 236, Eliza Jane Schaeffer of Henry Clay High School in Lexington said that students spend seven hours a day in school, and "informed young people can contribute to discussions of school governance."
Enthusiastic committee members agreed, sending HB 236 on to the full House in a unanimous vote.
"I'm counting on y'all to save the world," Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Louisville, told them.
Under the bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Derrick Graham of Frankfort, a school board would have the option to add a student to a superintendent screening committee.
Fayette County school officials tried to add a student to its screening committee in December after Superintendent Tom Shelton resigned, but they discovered that state law requires each committee to have two teachers, elected by teachers; one classified employee, elected by classified employees; one principal, elected by principals; one parent or guardian, elected by PTA presidents, and one school board member, appointed by the chairman.
Supporters expect the bill to get an equally bipartisan welcome on the House floor in coming days.
"This bill was proposed, written, lobbied for, publicized, managed, and organized entirely by students," Andrew Brennen, co-founder of the Prichard Committee's Student Voice Team, posted on Twitter shortly after the committee approved the bill. "Who needs civics class?"