Garamendi speaks to students about civic involvement
Students at Anna Kyle Elementary School in Fairfield gained a whole lot of civic knowledge when Rep. John Garamendi, D-Solano, stopped by Wednesday morning to answer questions on the political process.
Garamendi, whose congressional district includes Fairfield and Vacaville, visited area schools that morning to host conversations on educational policy and civic engagement with the youth of Fairfield. The congressman began his tour by visiting Anna Kyle, where students in third through fifth-grade came prepared to ask him their burning questions on government, a topic they were studying in social studies.
An introduction was delivered by Principal Steve Philips, who recognized local dignitaries in attendance, including Kris Corey, the superintendent of Fairfield-Suisun Unified School Distrct; and Judi Honeychurch, vice president of the Fairfield-Suisun school board. He then turned the microphone over to third-grade teacher Thomas Warsaw, who spearheaded Garamendi’s visit.
“We are very fortunate to have the congressman join us, considering the incredibly busy schedule he keeps,” Phillips said.
Warsaw said the visit was the result of the district adopting a new English curriculum, Benchmark Advance, and that students were all studying government and communities.
“For third grade, our essential question is ‘Why do people participate in government?'” he said. “It kind of occurred to me, ‘Well, why not ask somebody who does?'”
Warsaw reached out to Garamendi to lead a discussion on civic engagement, and the congressman accepted. Garamendi’s discussion was about government at all levels from local city councils and school boards to the executive branch. Students were given a sheet of paper that explained the three branches of government on one side and the process by which a bill becomes a law on the other side. Garamendi also verbally quizzed students, asking questions like “How many states are in America?” to “Who is the current president?”
Students also got to ask Garamendi questions of their own. These ranged from historical inquiries such as who wrote the Constitution and what the red stripes represent on the U.S. flag to general civic questions like the roles of the Supreme Court and Congress to general questions for Garamendi such as how long he has been in Congress, how far he had to travel and if he supported improving roads in Solano County.
“You bet I am,” he responded to the latter question.
A student named Liliana asked Garamendi what made him want to be a congressman. His response? “All of you.”
“You’re the ones that made me want to be a congressman because I want to make sure we have a really, really good education system,” he said. “I want to make sure that you’re able to really learn what to do to be successful like Judi, like your principal and like your superintendent. I want to make sure we have a really good education system all across America.”
Garamendi was also asked what he would do if he became president. He then asked students what they think he should do if he became president. The loudest response was to make school start at 10. Garamendi’s answer was different.
“If I were elected president, I would make sure we had the very, very best schools in the entire world,” he said.
A student named Taikiah asked Garamendi if there were any women in Congress.
“Yes, but not enough,” Garamendi said. “We actually need more and more women to run for office like the trustee here and like your City Council, the supervisors and the state. We need more women to run for office.”
A student named Jose asked the congressman if he worked with anyone. Garamendi said he had a staff and worked with 434 other representatives.
“You guys are much better behaved than my colleagues in Congress,” he said.
Garamendi closed by noting the importance of civic involvement and encouraged students to vote when they become old enough.
“We have a democracy that depends upon your involvement,” he said.
Later in the day, Garamendi spoke with students at Vanden High School and Travis Education Center.