Thursday, June 02, 2005

Congressman from the 1st District of the State of California, Mike Thompson

Back in November, I had my students write Congressman Mike Thompson regarding issues that they felt strongly about. At the time, we were in the middle of a Mock Congress simulation (the House, no filibusters), so it fit that we wrote our Representative. The students wrote some excellent letters, from the War in Iraq to the legalization of marijuana, to the problems associated with Title IX, and so on. Back in February, Mike Thompson's office called and wanted to visit. It was during vacation so it didn't work. His office called again during the beginning of May to set up a June 1 visit. I prepped the kids with a biography (note to teachers, have them prepare questions in advance, it really makes difference) and on Wednesday, I welcomed the Congressman to my classroom.
Mike Thompson is a Democrat that leans, strongly, to the left. I can't say that I agree with him on many issues, the least of which is his stance on medical marijuana (he's for it). However, Thompson spent two full periods in my college prep Economics classes and answered the kids questions with dignity and grace. He did not play the Nancy Pelosi type character, meaning he didn't try to skirt to many issues and simply bash Bush. Yes, he didn't like the War in Iraq and blamed Bush for the budget problems, but he often made a point to remind students that his party was prone to mistakes and voting in Congress should be about benefiting the nation, not the party. Thompson also talked up the brave soldiers fighting in Iraq and mentioned visits to Walter Reed Hospital. All in all, I was thrilled with his visit. He and I took about 5 minutes alone at break and he asked me about the gang problem at the school. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that he was very knowledgeable about the problems with senior gang members at the prison in Pelican Bay (Crescent City) getting orders out to others with no difficulty.
The Ukiah Daily Journal wrote an article about his visit. In the background, you can get a small glimpse of my classroom. WARNING!!!!!!!!! The article was written by K.C. Meadows. Yes, THIS K.C. MEADOWS. The same one whose editorial I blasted with this letter. The principal's secretary let me know that she wanted to come into the classroom to cover the Congressman. I allowed her in and we were very cordial. What I'm warning you about is that the article makes it sound like Thompson was all doom and gloom. He was far from it. Out of the over 90 minutes he spent with my classes, he might spoke about fiscal policy for a total of 12-15 minutes. The rest of the time was answering kids questions that were not about fiscal policy. Think about it, do you think 18 year olds can take 90 minutes of budget talk? Could you?!!?
So a very successful day is in the books. Thanks to Congressman Thompson for coming to visit the kids, and thanks to the kids for treating the Congressman with respect, but having the guts to ask good questions.
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