As a person with a passion for civics, a teacher, and a citizen, I believe very firmly that the path to good citizenship begins with information. With this in mind, I am excited to share with you a somewhat new Internet resource called COUNTABLE. What IS Countable? In their own words,

We empower you (busy people) with the tools to keep tabs on your elected officials and directly influence policy. Government is in YOUR pocket, for a change!
Countable gives you:
Clear and succinct summaries of upcoming and active legislation.
An easy way to tell your lawmakers how to vote on those bills.
Tools to see how your elected officials voted, so you can hold them accountable.
Countable gives lawmakers:
A place to see trends from their constituents on upcoming policy.
Engagement from many constituents they may not otherwise hear from.

I encourage you to take a few minutes and take a look at their video overview.

I love the fact that this is for both legislators AND constituents. Take a look at my own home page:

Countable's scrolling bills

Countable’s scrolling bills

As you can see, Countable offers you an opportunity to tell your legislator your own opinion on pressing bills and the issues of the day. Once you log in for the first time and provide it your information, it will identify your legislators for you. But what about these bills?  What happens, for example, when I actually select YEA or NAY?

Send your legislators your opinion on the bill!

Send your legislators your opinion on the bill!

Once you select a stance, you have an opportunity to actually leave a comment, and they will send your vote to your local folks! You can select a variety of issues if you want to reserve your opinion giving for issues dear to your heart as well.

What matters to you?

What matters to you?

Bills, bills, bills...

Bills, bills, bills…

Think of the ways that this could be used in the classroom, my friends. For example, here in Florida, we have

SS.7.C.2.8 Identify America’s current political parties, and illustrate their ideas about government.

This sort of tool can allow students to compare political party stances on almost any issue, not to mention helping them understand where their own leaders stand. Did your legislator vote for this bill? What might that suggest about his party’s values, or where he stands in relation to the rest of his party?

What about

SS.7.C.3.6 Evaluate Constitutional rights and their impact on individuals and society.

Take a look at one of the bills in this image:

Couldn't you talk about rights here?

Couldn’t you talk about rights here?

Isn’t there an opportunity to teach some element of this benchmark by exploring H.R. 699 (and I love that they give this!), which relates to searches????

There are so many possibilities posed by this tool, and the team here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship will be actively discussing ways in which we might integrate it into our own resources, and we would love to hear from you! It also really seems to fit well with the Lou Frey Institute’s Florida Civic Health site. Don’t you just love the glories of the Web??

Information, my fellow citizens, is power. Let’s use it.
EDITED TO ADD: They were not kidding about sending your feedback to your legislators. I already got this from one of my senators, based on my input on a bill a few minutes ago. Canned, but still, it is a start, isn’t it???

Senator Rubio responds to my input.

Senator Rubio responds to my input.