LONGMEADOW — Senator Eric P. Lesser held the first in a series of high school town halls on Wednesday at Longmeadow High School following the signing of the state’s new law promoting civics education.
Sen. Lesser was a leading champion of the legislation in the Senate, particularly for a measure directing schools to incorporate “media literacy” in their civics programs to help students develop the skills needed to critically analyze written and digital media sources. The effort was also a long-time priority of Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester), and was given added urgency with the influx of so-called “fake news.”
The bill also requires public schools serving students in eighth grade and high school to provide a student-led civics project, and creates a Civics Project Trust Fund to provide funding for these projects.
“One of my favorite activities as a State Senator is getting the chance to speak directly with young people,” Sen. Lesser said. “I first became interested in government at a young age, and I first got involved in my local government as a sophomore right here at Longmeadow High School when we campaigned to save teachers’ jobs from cuts to education funding. Our students always inspire me with their questions about how our state government works and their desire to get involved. They are our future leaders, so it is critical they understand that even at a very young age they have a stake in our community and in our Commonwealth’s future.”
Students at Longmeadow High School asked questions on a number of topics, including gun safety laws, taxes, the environment, immigration and the economy.
This is the first in a series of wide-ranging discussions with high school students that Sen. Lesser plans to hold across the First Hampden and Hampshire District.