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Congressman Morgan McGarvey visits Manual for an informal town hall with students

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Congressman McGarvey and Dr. Newman welcome Annika Chadha (9, MST) to the stage. Photo by Jazmine Martinez.

This Friday, United States Representative Morgan McGarvey, who represents Kentucky’s Third Congressional District, visited Manual students in government-related classes and in the Cognitive Connections Club. McGarvey, a Manual graduate, discussed everything from politics to his involvement in the school’s choir as a teenager. Students were able to lead a discussion with McGarvey and ask him questions in the auditorium during fourth block. 

To begin, McGarvey invited Annika Chadha (9, MST) to the stage to present her with a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition. Chaadha created Countdown2K, an app that helps parents prepare their children for entering kindergarten, as part of the Congressional App Challenge. Countdown2K was the winning app for Kentucky’s Third Congressional District.

“Being recognized by Congressman McGarvey as the winner is a great honor, especially because he is an alumnus of Manual,” Chadha said.

 Chadha’s app, which caters to both English and Spanish speakers, has interactive programming that follows JCPS standards for kindergarten readiness. During the 2021-2022 school year, only 43% of kindergarteners entered JCPS ready to learn. After learning about how many children in the US are not academically, emotionally or socially ready for kindergarten, Chadha was inspired to create an app to address the issue. 

The Congressman also fielded multiple questions from students about education, including his stance on mandated teacher pay raises, and how to alleviate the mass exodus of teachers from their positions on a state and national level. 

“We are losing quality educators at far too rapid a rate, and we have to stop pretending that all the teaching profession is is a calling. We’ve got to pay people to do one of the most important jobs in this country, which is educate the future of this country,” McGarvey said. He explained to students and teachers that while he doesn’t have exact numbers, he believes that teaching should be a six-figure job in Kentucky.

Another education-related question was posed by Raima Dutt (12, MST), a member of the Kentucky Student Voice Team (KSVT). Recently, KSVT wrote House Bill (HB) 381, which was introduced in January. HB 381 would require every school board in the state to have at least one student representative. Dutt asked McGarvey about his stance on youth representation and what tangible steps students can take to get involved. 

“How old do you have to be to be a state rep in Kentucky right now? 25. How do you have to be a state senator? 30. How old do you have to be to vote? 18. Okay, that don’t make no sense,” McGarvey said.

As a former state legislator and a younger member of the House of Representatives, the Congressman also reflected on his time in Frankfort and how it has prepared him for Washington D.C. 

Congressman McGarvey fielded questions related to education, abortion, voting rights and more. Photo by Jazmine Martinez.

When talking about his experience as a freshman Congressman, McGarvey referenced last year’s unprecedented elections for Speaker of the House, as well as the December expulsion of George Santos from the House of Representatives. McGarvey explained that the stalls occurring in Congress mean that not only has no budget been passed, but there have been no successful attempts to provide places like Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and Taiwan with financial and humanitarian aid this year. 

“That war is not going to end anytime soon, peacefully. And so we have a choice to make. We can honor our commitments to our allies and to our allies around the world, or not,” McGarvey said when calling for support for Ukraine. During this town hall, however, he did more than just highlight current government dysfunction- instead, McGarvey pointed towards signs of change such as the 10 year decrease in the average age of Congress last year. 

Felix Rogers (12, YPAS) asked McGarvey, who happily pointed out that he and Rogers both had long hair in high school, about his stances on term limits. 

“Because I believe in representative democracy, I think those term limits need to be long enough that the power remains with the elected officials, not with the bureaucrats and the lobbyists and the other people who are part of government that don’t ever leave,” McGarvey said. When discussing age in relation to politics, McGarvey also stated that he is in support of the idea of 18 year term limits for Congress.

“I think also having McGarvey, who’s a more, you know, recent entrance to the Congress, just being elected last year, it’s definitely a refreshing viewpoint of someone who’s new into the federal government and helping see that transition is really giving us as individual citizens a better perspective on what’s actually happening in there,” said Rogers. 

Congressman McGarvey poses for a photo with the students who attended his informal town hall. Photo by Amy Washburn.

After posing for photographs with students, McGarvey went to meet with Cognitive Connections, a club that volunteers in senior care health facilities. In this appearance, students asked McGarvey about topics ranging from rising hate crimes and assault weapons regulations to initiatives to clean the Ohio River.

Vallabh Ramesh (10, MST) is the president of Cognitive Connections. He arranged McGarvey’s discussion with the club after the two met at a walk for Alzheimer’s in late 2023. Ramesh told McGarvey about Cognitive Connections because, according to Ramesh, “one of his main goals is senior care.”

“I was so excited to see Congressman Morgan McGarvey. I’m a big fan and I gave a speech about him for oral communication and debate, so it was really great to see my hero in person,” said Maggie Stone (9, J&C). Stone, who was excited to have met a politician for the first time, took the opportunity during the Cognitive Connections meeting to ask McGarvey about the state of Kentucky’s civic education programs and their importance. 

“Say it and say at the ballot box,” McGarvey advised students in response to Stone’s questions surrounding civic education. When asked about SB 80, a bill that would prohibit student IDs as a valid form of voter identification, McGarvey imparted similar advice. “So who do the people who are getting elected ultimately end up talking to? Older people. Voters,” McGarvey said, encouraging those who are old enough to vote to do so.

“Your elected representatives are going to talk to voters, and if you’re 18 to 30 right now in this country, you represent the largest voting bloc we have, and the power you have is massive,” McGarvey said. 

If you are eligible to vote in the May 2024 primaries, you can register here

About the Contributors
Grace Fridy, Opinion Editor
Grace Fridy is the Opinion Editor for Manual RedEye this year. She enjoys reading, writing, discussing, debating, bowling, baking and many other activities there isn't room for. You can contact her at [email protected].
Lydia Morgan, Staffer
Lydia Morgan is a staffer on the Student Life team of Manual RedEye. In her free time, she enjoys dancing, reading and spending time outside. You can contact her at [email protected].
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