Posted Date: 05/16/2022
By Diego Chavez
KASB Advocacy Legislative Intern
Wow, where has the time gone? It seems like it was just yesterday that I started my internship with the Kansas Association of School Boards. I have always paid attention to politics, both on the national and state level. Being able to intern under the capitol dome has been a great opportunity to see what our Legislature does.
As a legislative intern, I got to learn and experience about government and public education in Kansas. Before this internship, I had a basic understanding of how a bill is made but throughout the session I was able to see what you would call a political “chess game” of how a bill actually gets passed. I was able to attend education-related committee meetings while also watching general floor debate. I had always read about the legislators in Topeka, so being able to work up close with them was certainly special. Thanks to KASB, I was introduced to many legislators which solidified my career path to public service. After graduating, I plan on running for public office someday whether that’s on the state or federal level. Being exposed to the work that these legislators do is a great passion of mine.
I also had the opportunity to write papers on K-12 education issues that were occurring in the Legislature. My first paper was about tracking transgender athlete bills across the nation and where Kansas stood in relation to them. Other research I performed was examining a proposed state constitutional amendment on Kansas Supreme Court selection, a proposed state constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds majority votes of the House and Senate to create new taxes or to raise existing taxes, and most recently, how school districts are spending their COVID-19 funds from the federal government.
The State Capitol still hasn't lost its sense of grandeur on me. Just standing underneath that dome made me appreciate how exciting of an opportunity I have. How many people can take the time out of their busy hectic schedules to talk with legislators all day? I know some don’t care, others are more politically inclined. I enjoyed that aspect of my internship the most no matter the legislator’s policies. I learned how to understand someone’s point of view, use critical thinking to analyze how they got to that position, and display a sense of respect. Over the course of the Legislature, I soon realized that these legislators who make less than $20,000 a year are simply representing their constituents at the end of the day. They believe they are the best representative of the people from their district. I think college students should step off the campus that they’re on and should talk to their state legislators. Not everyone is going to have the same opinion as you and more students need to realize this. You can develop your critical thinking and debate skills by exposing yourself to different points of view, which I highly recommend.
I want to thank Mark Tallman, Leah Fliter, and Scott Rothschild for providing the opportunity to intern with KASB. It has been an incredible journey that will forever remain with me as I continue on in my career.