Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Program Is Giving Legislators Their Say in Classroom Studies

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Program Is Giving Legislators Their Say in Classroom Studies

Article excerpt

When Ron Millheiser talks to his junior high social studies class about state government, he has Missouri lawmakers ready to offer differing views to his class at the push of a button.

Millheiser, who teaches about 150 seventh- and eighth-graders at the junior high school in Washington, Mo., is among teachers making the weekly "Capitol Dialogue" program part of the classroom work.

The Missouri Legislature produces the 30-minute program each week. It usually features Democratic and Republican lawmakers discussing topics of the day, such as juvenile justice and tax limitation.

"If you can create a visual image, it does so much more because not all kids can learn well just by reading," Millheiser said. "They have to see and hear things for it to make an actual impression on them."

Schools aren't the show's only audience, which is produced by Gene Rose, head of the House information office, and Mark Hughes, his Senate counterpart.

The program is videotaped and mailed or sent by satellite feed to cable television outlets around the state, so folks can sit in their homes and have a window to the Statehouse.

Robert Harrison, general manager of Jefferson College Television at Hillsboro, says he uses Capitol Dialogue with other programming on the local cable outlet.

"What they really like is the people and the personalities and that is what is really important," Harrison said. "People get a chance to see their speaker of the House and they wouldn't get a chance to do that normally."

"If you tune into it on a regular basis, then you are going to be given an ongoing understanding of issues and personalities," Harrison said. "People become more involved in their government if there is informational access to them."

Hughes said the program is sent to about two dozen cable stations and scores of schools around the state, which can decide how or whether to use the program. He said he didn't have an exact count of how many stations and schools used the program.

The program originates from a crowded basement studio at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education where lawmakers sit on a small platform with two reporters and moderator Bob Priddy, news director of the Missourinet radio network. …

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