Rep. Richard Hanna speaks to Cazenovia High School students in the AP history and government class.
continued Hanna also described to the class about what life as a member of the House of Representatives is like, from riding on Air Force One to studying the nuances of milk pricing with the help of the Congressional Research Service.
Hanna did not take his audience for granted during his remarks. He reminded the high school seniors that the issues being discussed in Congress are relevant for their own generation more than his own.
“It’s not my problem. Frankly, I’m pretty well off. It’s your problem … the biggest part of the conversation has to do with how you’ll deal with it and what we pass forward to you,” he said.
He also discussed his position on federal education policy, “We need to cater education more to the individual, even though it’s hard and expensive,” he said.
Speaking specifically about the Cazenovia schools, Hanna complimented the academic vigor and success of the district. He also addressed a concern that such success leaves Cazenovia out of the running for federal education grants. “You’re all overachievers,” he joked. “Knock it off!”
On a more serious note, Hanna added, “People set priorities [for spending] and the money is so tight that they’re sending it where they think it’s needed the most. Successful schools like your own end up having less interest in them. That’s a natural outcome.”
After the congressman’s presentation, there was a class discussion about how the congressman’s remarks connected to class material.
“He didn’t seem like he had his own policy agenda coming in,” said Kellish. “It was more just the facts of what congress is like and how his experience in congress affected him. It was very substantive.”
AP class teacher Kurt Wheeler also thought that the experience was valuable for the seniors.
“I think it’s always helpful when people get the opportunity to hear from someone who is actually doing it and compare the real world answer to the hypothetical academic answer,” he said. “It’s perfect timing because we just finished a unit on congress and to have the congressman in to reinforce those same messages and themes is very helpful to the students.”
Terence Hartnett is an Eagle Newspapers contributor. He can be reached at email@example.com.