One of the classes everyone takes in the Semester in Washington program is a Practicum in Legislative Advocacy or Electoral Politics. I along with six others chose to be in the legislative advocacy practicum that would spend the semester working on a piece of legislation called the Graduation for All Act. This is a bill that was passed through the House but not the Senate, so it is our job this semester to simulate that process of passing the Graduation for All Act through the Senate.
The first step of passing a bill through the Senate is usually to get it through the appropriate committee or sub-committee. In the case of an education bill such as ours, it would be vetted through the Senate HELP Committee (Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee). My team, along with our professor, has been preparing for a mock hearing (our midterm) that took place this week. The hearing took place in a real Senate Committee room, although it was actually the Veterans Affairs Committee room, not the HELP Committee room. It became pretty real to us when our professor showed us which chair Obama used to always sit in when he was on the Veterans Affairs Committee in his days in the Senate.
My Testimony as the State Superintendent of the Nevada Department of Education
My team's other testimonies: Dr. Wolfe's and Mr. Soto's.
It was as authentic an experience as one could get without actually providing testimony to the Senate itself. There were three panelists who all worked in real jobs on the Hill, posing as the Chairman of the HELP Committee, the Ranking Republican member, and another committee member. After myself and my two teammates presented our initial testimonies, the panelists asked us some pretty tough questions.
The Q&A Session (split up into two parts)
A special thanks to my amazing mother, the woman whom my character was based off of (plus or minus a few titles and accolades). Through this course and exercises like these I'm beginning to realize why education reform is so important to her. If nothing else, I'm definitely getting better prepared for when she decides to run for School Board and I get to manage her campaign as promised :)