Mr. Shockley’s and Mr. Militello’s 8th grade American Government classes recently convened their Mock Congress. The students-turned-U.S. representatives and senators got a first-hand experience of the process of a bill becoming a law— or diminishing along the way. After each class introduced bills on such issues as the federal death penalty, phasing in the mandatory use of electric cars over 30 years, increasing pay of active duty soldiers and others., the bills were debated in their respective standing committees. Once the bills passed out of the committees, the students staged debates on the House or Senate floor.
“The objective of Mock Congress is to bring to life how the U.S. Congress actually works (or doesn’t work)—how the Legislative Branch of government is set up in order to try to get bills passed into laws. The students have a hands-on experience acting as either U.S. senators or U.S. representatives,” said Militello.
While Shockley and Militello serve as guides along the way, students take ownership of the entire Mock Congress process.
“While there is a relatively formal structure for how Mock Congress works, the students do most of their work themselves. The students learn how to research a position, argue a point or points in front of their fellow representatives or senators, how to support their arguments with facts and ultimately to either stand firm in their stance on a particular issue or compromise,” said Militello.