Rep. Andy Vargas interacted with Gov. Charlie Baker during the signing of a civics education bill Thursday. (Courtesy photograph)
As state Reps. Andy Vargas and Linda Dean Campbell close out a week that saw them both re-elected to new terms on Beacon Hill, the legislators are also celebrating the passage of a comprehensive civics bill the pair has championed locally for the last several years.
Signed into law Thursday, the bill includes components of an original civics bill Vargas assisted with as a student at Haverhill High during his work with local advocacy group Teens Leading the Way. As outlined Thursday, the bill promotes civic engagement in high schools through project-based learning. A key component of the legislation has high school students preparing at least one student-led, non-partisan civics project during their course of study.
Vargas was alongside Baker as the governor inked the bill into law. “This bill is so important to get young people to not only understand why they should be civically engaged, but also how civic engagement can lead to better outcomes for their communities,” the Haverhill-based policymaker said in a statement. “The current political climate is engaging young people like we haven’t seen in generations and our school system should be encouraging those civic habits as a result.”
Campbell teamed with Senate President Harriette L. Chandler to sponsor the bill back in March. At Campbell’s urging, the bill also includes the formation of a Civics Project Fund that aids in evaluation and the creation of model curriculum, and a student challenge to encourage voter registration.