Lawmaker sponsors bill developed by high schoolers

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A bill developed by high school students aimed at reducing class sizes will soon be debated by a legislative committee.

Senate Bill 379, which started off as a project for a group of civics students at the Mentorship Academy in Baton Rouge, will go before a Senate committee.

Civics teacher Ricardo Malbrew wanted his students to have a hands-on lesson on the workings of the legislative system. However, no one involved thought they'd actually become a part of it.

"Actually having something pass that me and my fellow classmates put our own work into and our own passion and what we want to see happen, the fact that it has the possibility to happen and actually become something that's enforced is pretty awesome for us," said freshman Thomas Hanlon.

He and his civics classmates had a simple assignment. They were to create a bill addressing concerns they have with their education and they determined class size was the biggest issue. Hanlon said he is often in a classroom containing anywhere from 30 to 35 students.

The bill is being backed my Sen. Eric LaFleur, D-Ville Platte, and its next stop is the Senate Education Committee.

"It's all about the process, and they're learning the process very quickly," said Malbrew. "They want to shape their own politics, they want to shape their own education. They don't want other people to do that for them. Because of that, I'm very proud of them and their efforts and their hard work. We will soon see if it will pay off."

Malbrew said the students will testify on behalf of their bill, so only time will tell what's to become of it. Rodney London said it's just been cool to get some attention at the Capitol. He said lawmakers are getting to hear directly from students and see that they do care about their education. He hopes their concerns are heard.

"Think of your child in a class, in a public school setting, in a class of 30 people," London said. "He comes home and tells you he's not learning enough because there's not enough opportunity. How would you feel? How would you come to the school? How would you come to the school board? You would want it for your child. Why wouldn't you want it for everyone's child? It's your job to make it happen."

Malbrew said his students will testify before the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

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