Project Citizen provides opportunities for Colorado youth to participate in the public policy process through identifying, analyzing and proposing a policy concerning a local or state issue of interest to them. Students 1) select an issue, 2) research the problem using interviews, surveys, Internet and other technology, 3) analyze alternative policies looking at costs and benefits of each, 4) develop a solution that they feel best addresses the problem and 5) develop a support base and then find the right people in government who can help them make the change. Through Project Citizen, students learn how citizens engage in public policy, how to talk with adults about their idea and that participation means more than voting.
During the past decade, Colorado students (grades 5-12) have identified the need for many policy changes that later became reality. Examples of student study and action include restricting medical marijuana clinics near schools, repair of outdated school bath room facilities, distracted driving policies, healthier food in school cafeteria, daily physical education for elementary students. Many issues that students have researched are still on the policy agenda including in-state college tuition for undocumented students, four-day school week,” zero tolerance” behavior policies in public schools, wildlife on highways and lottery games dedicated to education.
State and Local Project Citizen Showcases
Annually, a two-day state showcase at the Colorado State Capitol provides students with the opportunity to present their policy proposals to experts.
Learning to analyze public policy is a critically important skill for engaged citizens—and the study of public policy also provides rich opportunities for students to become better readers and writers. The Center for Education in Law and Democracy (CELD) offers a multi-day professional development seminar featuring strategies for boosting advocacy, literacy and technology skills throughout the Project Citizen process.
The seminar offers strands for elementary and secondary teachers to learn to use Web 2.0 technology as they experience the Project Citizen model. Teachers also adapt specific strategies for integrating social studies and language arts to their curricular needs. For more information about the seminar and seminar offerings, please contact Barbara Miller.