An effort is under way in Columbia public schools to help students become more actively involved in the public policy-making process. On Tuesday, Hickman High School students gathered for the first of these discussions designed to resemble town hall meetings.
“It is extracurricular, but it is complementary to the curriculum,” said George Frissell, chairman of the Language Arts Department at Hickman and organizer of the meetings.
In order to connect their course work with policy issues, Hickman teachers such as Frissell work with Sandy Hodge, a state public policy specialist and professor in MU’s extension program.
This week, eight Hickman students participated in the first of the forums, discussing the topic “News Media and Society: How to Restore the Public Trust.”
The topic was selected from a list prepared by the National Issues Forums Institute, a nonpartisan organization based in Washington, D.C., that provides resources for community organizations and schools to discuss policy issues.
Hodge moderated the forum. Students from Katie Young’s newspaper production and journalistic writing courses participated after school, discussing how the news media may have lost public trust and ways it can regain that trust.
Melanie Powell, also a senior, questioned the credibility of journalists and the accuracy of their reporting.
The students said the study circle helped them connect their course work with public policy concerns.