Are students aware of policies being passed in Missouri?

Staff Vote –  Yes: 1  No: 19


Photo by Kayley Twenter

Jennavieve Carmony and Sidney Lowry

Governor Mike Parsons has signed a bill, HB161, which changes when Missouri schools can begin their school year. The 2020-2021 school year can now begin no earlier than two full weeks prior to the first Monday in September. This means Missouri schools will now begin classes no earlier than Aug. 24, 2020.

This is a big change to the calendar and many students aren’t aware of it. Some of The Bell staff members believe this is because bills and laws can be difficult for students to interpret. Classes like AP United States Government and Politics help students be better involved in politics and the news, but even so, classes like these usually follow national news more closely than statewide politics.

A prime example is the new information on COVID-19. Students are getting a lot of national information about this pandemic, but some of them didn’t even know there was going to be a quarantine until it happened.

Though some students were still in the dark on what is happening around them, information on the local action being taken is much more easily accessible than local policies that are being passed.

When it comes to events happening in the community that are simultaneously happening nationally, it seems that the state and media are much better at getting out information to people who desperately need it.

When local news doesn’t have anything to do with national news, The Bell staff has noticed information is much harder to find.

Policies, such as the one that will alter the start date of the school year, directly affect students, yet many still don’t know about the changes. Many adults in the building said they were not aware of the policy until it had already been passed in the state legislature, and only then did they begin informing their students of it.

Again, the direct contrast of this policy is the action the state government is taking to combat the spread of COVID-19. The rules the state is passing for the Coronavirus is only a short term solution, but because it is only going to affect people for a short amount of time, it is much easier to find information on.

Though this is much bigger than a state-wide problem, students are finding this information a lot easier than they would a policy that is going to affect them for multiple years.

It is the responsibility of the Missouri legislature to communicate with citizens about statewide legislature being passed and not only national news. There needs to be an effort to modernize how this information is relayed to citizens, either through a website, connections with news outlets, or online ad campaigns.

Whether or not students are currently aware of policies in Missouri, with the help of parents, teachers and education from the legislature, students have many opportunities to learn about local politics which will affect them and their classmates in the future.