The students’ legislation has been adopted by Rep. Nichols for the upcoming legislative session.
“Never underestimate the power of an 18-year-old,” said TU President Gerard Clancy, beaming with pride.
Clancy was eager to brag about the 135 students of the Presidential Leaders Fellowship and the influence they have already exercised in Oklahoma.
Specifically, the class wrote and proposed a piece of legislation called the “Oklahoma Economic Development Long-Term Investment Act.”
The bill included a fifth-day initiative, to give students in four-day districts access to learning opportunities on the fifth day; a solution to make bond issues more flexible for schools; a method for increasing the prevalence of charter and partnership schools; marijuana legalization as a method of reducing opioid abuse and a list of other public health improvement plans; and improving trade relations with China in such a way that Oklahoma benefits.
Revised and adopted in two parts by Rep. Monroe Nichols, the bill will appear to be voted on in the upcoming state legislative session.
HB 3000 is called the “Fifth Day School Partnership Act,” and will provide for virtual instruction taught by student teachers for the 20 percent of school districts across the state that have four-day school weeks. HB 3001 will authorize the state board of education to issue bonds for teacher compensation.
“Unfortunately, the lack of state funding continues to hinder educators in the classroom,” Nichols said. “I’m thrilled that TU students are stepping up with well thought out and innovative approaches to improving education across the state.”
“These two reforms would be huge wins for Oklahoma kids and educators, and I’m extremely proud to represent TU in the legislator, but even prouder as an alum,” Nichols said.
The Presidential Leaders Fellowship is a three-semester program taught by Clancy and visiting assistant professors of community medicine Terrie Shipley and Adam Seaman.
Leadership programs for incoming students are common among four-year universities, so Clancy wanted to be sure that TU’s class would be effective.
“The word leadership is a big word that can mean many things,” Clancy said.
When conceiving the class, Clancy said he understood people struggle building their leadership skills in complex environments. Drawing from a wealth of personal experience, Clancy taught students how to break down complex problems into manageable steps.
For Clancy, teaching is an implied part of the job description.
“How can I help run a university when I’m not in the classroom?” he said.
Incoming freshmen were required to apply for the class with an essay. Now students are in their second semester, where they are primarily learning personal development skills. As sophomores they will be putting their brains together to solve a real-life problem, the topic of which has not been decided.