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  Workshop 7: Controversial Public Policy Issues  
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Workshop 7

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Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
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Student Perspectives: Lessons learned

Joseph: I guess it makes you see the viewpoints of other people. Your thoughts are based [on] your own personal experience but [when] you realize the way other people feel about it, it broadens you. Now I’ll feel for the minorities because I understand where they’re coming from--that they do get pulled over more often. It makes you see their side of the story more, and it helps you by seeing that you’re not the only one that gets pulled over because you’re under age. Other people who are older than you are getting pulled over because of the color of their skin so you can kind of relate to them in a way but obviously I don’t think it’s as bad for us as it is for them. It just shows you their side of the story.

Rayad: I used to be for cameras [in squad cars], for another way for the police to look at things. As I go through it, we can’t restrict our police officers as much as we do sometimes. We need to let them go on their own discretion, make their own decisions. If we don’t do that, we’re limiting them. When they’re limited, they can’t do their job. They can’t get out there and protect people. So my opinion has changed on things. I question if cameras are a good way to solve the problem. They’re expensive to install, to maintain. [They] really don’t do much. Maybe in a fight or if there is controversial evidence in court, you can see it, but other than that, I don’t see any real value to it.

Learning how to listen to people is a big thing. You have to enter a discussion with an open mind. Another important thing to look at is don’t avoid everything controversial in life. Just take a stab at it, or else you’ll never learn.

The other thing that really strikes me is you see so many adults--this kind of Jerry Springer mentality that we have in our country--just fighting. Here you are really looking at the two sides and trying to say we may have differences, but how can we [work things out]. We need to progress as a society. We can’t just go back to the barbaric way. We have to be more understanding, be more open. There are always two sides to every story. You can fight and then there are going to be more problems. The situation is never resolved. By talking things out, by looking at both perspectives, you can come to a solution.

In every setting, I guess in life, whether dealing with people out in the community, in a business setting, in work, you’re going to have to learn how to interact with people. I think that even though you’re not always going to be dealing with controversial topics, you still have to learn how to work well with other people. That’s just a basic skill that everyone needs to acquire. Classes like this, discussions like this, activities like this really help to build those skills.

Renee: It made me realize that you have to listen to every person and what everyone has to say. You can’t just say, “I’m right. You’re wrong.” You have to make compromises in life, and I think that’s going to help me a lot because I’ve always kind of gotten my way. It made me realize that if everybody got his or her way, there wouldn’t be any justice in society. It made me realize that everybody has rights no matter who they are [or] what they do. If you are living on the streets, you still have rights under the Constitution. Whether you’re living in a mansion and you think you’re God, you have to follow the same [laws] as that person living on the streets, and you have to abide by them to make society work.

I wouldn’t want to be in Congress’s position because there are so many different controversies. When you say profiling, [most people] associate it with race or age, and there are so many other things that go with it. I would not want to make that decision because there’s going to be a case that comes up and says, “You said it was okay for this one. Why isn’t it okay for this one?”

I’ve never really understood policy-making and what Congress exactly did. After I experienced the law class and we did the Supreme Court and trials, I realize now what the Supreme Court and the Congress have to do to make policies and laws, and it’s really hard. I understand more how they work as a whole. It helps me understand why they have them and whom the laws protect and why. We did a prayer in school, and I didn’t realize it was such a big deal. That was my case during Supreme Court, and we realized that we really shouldn’t have prayer in school.

Robin: It kind of makes me realize that I’m part of society, too, and that my actions and what I do and feel will play a part in the rest of the world--maybe not so much now, but once I get more involved in society as an adult. When I start voting this fall, I’ll actually be a part of the voice of society.

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