I have mixed feelings about the state invertebrate. (Thanks, Combest!) I love crayfish, and creating new state symbols is about the least harmful thing legislators could do. It’s not like it’s a tax on crayfish. Still, the story bothers me:
The lesson had groups of students studying different types of invertebrates such as insects, millipedes, arachnids, segmented worms and crustaceans. It also asked students to find out whether Missouri had a state invertebrate, and make a case for why a particular one should represent the state […]
After the crayfish won the class vote, students contacted state representative Dennis Wood, R-Kimberling City, who agreed to meet with them.
I think it’s inappropriate to put students in the role of lobbyists, under the guise of studying the legislative process. When Missouri State University asked a student to lobby on a more controversial subject, legislators took that as an opportunity to try to regulate course content.
Furthermore, school assignments should not force political positions on sixth-graders. These kids are not mature or knowledgable enough to consider the pros and cons of legislation. And most 12-year-olds won’t go against their peers and argue that a new state symbol is a bad idea. The assignment didn’t even allow for conscientious objection. Everyone had to vote on one invertebrate, then everyone lobbied for what the group had chosen. From the remarks of the children who were quoted in the article the more state symbols the better, because we study them in fourth grade leeches are bad for the environment. You can see that they’re not thinking about this in a serious way.