Students from seven Dallas County schools and three schools in Tarrant County got a chance to see government in action this spring in a visit to the Capitol in Austin. The 91 student members of Student Voter Empowerment Clubs (SVEC) had the opportunity to observe floor activity in the Texas House chamber, where they saw bills introduced, explained, and debated, and even witnessed the passage of a bill.
After the session, the students met with eight legislators or members of their staff to learn about their roles and responsibilities. The legislators included Reps. Salman Bhojani (D-Euless), Victoria Neave (D-Dallas), John Bryant (D-Dallas), Giovanni Capriglionne (R-Southlake), Jessica Gonzalez (D-Dallas), Venton Jones (D-Dallas), Toni Rose (D-Dallas), and Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-Fort Worth).
The student leaders ended the day with a tour of the Capitol, where they learned about the history of the building, the voting practices in each chamber of the legislature, and more. In their government and history classes, the students study the structure of the legislature, the role of each branch of government, and how people have participated and continue to participate in the political process. On the field trip, they saw their social studies curriculum come to life, and they could not wait to share the experience in writing.
One student’s account read, “Our trip to the Capitol enhanced my understanding of state government because I saw the House in action, and talking to [elected officials]made me feel like my opinion actually matters and is heard. I got the opportunity to see the people who make decisions that directly affect my life and ask them questions – it was cool!”
Another said, “This experience was like viewing well-oiled gears. Your faith in the entire machine is elevated. I really enjoyed getting to better understand how our state government works.”
This valuable learning opportunity was made possible by the students’ respective school districts—including Dallas ISD—their donors, and volunteers.