Education in Action: Local Politics
My ‘State & Local Government’ classes at Spring Arbor University get used to hearing me pontificate on
the need for citizen activism. At a minimum, I tell them,they can be informed voters and prepared jurors.
To that end, assignments I give include reading their city/township charter, attending a local board or
city council meeting, researching a local or state ballot proposal and knowing their rights and responsibilities
as jurors, including an understanding of the history and use of ‘jury nullification’ as a bulwark against unjust laws.
When the opportunity to serve by taking a vacant city council seat arose, I thought that I had to
practice what I preached and at least apply to serve the remainder of the term. Lo and behold, the
Council selected me over another, equally qualified candidate.
So begins a new career, as a citizen-legislator. (If we won’t serve locally when the opportunity beckons, can we complain
about how we’re governed, expect to be heard in the national councils of government, or, if we teach civics, expect more
from our students that we do ourselves?)