Monday, March 14, 2005

The Green Tree Frog Bill a.k.a Senate Bill 41

Hi ! Here I am again as usual. I am writing this dear diary after I read a little column in the Atlanta Journal Constitution so here's what I want to say...

Young children can try to do something amazing and I'll tell you one of them now....In the fall of 2002 the class, jointly taught by Ruth Pinson and Marilyn McLean, realized while they were studying government and science that Georgia did not have an official amphibian.

The students reasoned that if the state can have an official bird ( Brown Thrasher ) butterfly ( Tiger Swallowtail ) reptile ( Gopher Tortoise ) and prepared food ( Grits ) why not a state amphibian ?

The class drew up a bill the dignified name is Senate Bill 41. The more descriptive name is " The Green Tree Frog Bill." The kids in Armuchee called it " Bill," the green tree frog. After three years, thousands of phone calls and e-mails, disappointments and some grinding of teeth, it seems likely that the Georgia Legislature will vote into law the brainchild of a fourth - grade class at Armuchee Elementary School near Rome.

The class drew up the bill and had it carried to the Legislature in the winter of 2003, first by Democratic Sen. Richard Marable and Democratic Rep. Barbara Reece and later by Republican Sen. Preston Smith and Reece. But the class has been DISAPPOINTED. What seemed to be a harmless piece of legislation kept getting bogged down, seemingly forgotten. "It made me more determined," replied by Mary Lunell Reece, now a sixth grader at Armuchee Middle School. When the teachers took the class to see the Legislature in action, some of the kids went around introducing themselves and shaking hands and asking the members of the Legislature to vote for the bill. " The children feel real ownership ", Pinson said. Parents jumped on the bandwagon. We've gotten letters and calls from all over the state asking what they could do to help. Rep. Reece got some negative letters from people wondering why the Legislature was spending time on what they considered a frivolous bill. Some wondered, why not the gray tree frog instead of the green tree frog. The teachers shared the letters with the students. The students studed different kinds of frogs. It made them realize that different people have different ideas about what's important. The students had chosen their nominee for a reason : " The green tree frog has porous skin and can't live in a heavily polluted environment, Blake said. " We hoped this would draw people's attention to pollution. " If it didn't pass the first year, we were only going to keep going," said Matthew. I know it takes a long time. The legislature had other things, like "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND, and they were having to deal with the war, If the bill passes the House ( its already passed the Senate, 50 - 0 ), the class is planning a party. The students hope Sen. Smith will ateend and maybe bring Gov. Sonny Perdue to sign the bill at the school.

So what's next for the sixth - grade lobbyists I wonder... Maybe they will change a few other problems in the world they are sure making a start of something that started out small like this bill that turned into something that the Senate will never forget. In my opinion this bill is something pretty great especially since it began with six graders.


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