Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) is used to asking tough questions as a member of the House Appropriations and Intelligence committees, but at Crescenta Valley High School on Monday, he was the one on the spot.
Roughly 70 students from the school’s ROTC and Advanced Placement Government classes heard from Schiff in an event moderated by AP Government teacher Alicia Harris.
Students asked Schiff to explain his views on the Affordable Care Act, No Child Left Behind and the Armenian genocide, where the topic was pressure from Turkey to block legislation recognizing as a genocide the death of more than 1 million Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks from 1915 to 1923.
“Turkey’s campaign of denial has been tremendously harmful for Turkey, and flies in the face of history,” Schiff said. “The only debate you get is with the Turkish government.”
John Myres, a senior AP Government student, asked Schiff about the No Child Left Behind Act, and Schiff explained he’d like to see the law altered to give school districts more flexibility to achieve academic goals.
After the event, Myres said that he wished Schiff had gone into more detail, but as an “independent with a liberal lean,” Myres found it illuminating to hear Schiff explain his position.
Schiff told students that his proudest moment as a legislator was the passage of a measure he co-authored to increase the country’s investment in nuclear forensics, a technology used to trace the origins of nuclear materials sold on the international black market.
Schiff said he has visited at least eight schools this year, and followed his visit to Crescenta Valley High with a trip to the Armenian Sisters Academy in Montrose.
“I like the feeling of being back on campus,” said Schiff, who once served as adjunct professor of political science at Glendale Community College. “It’s always a great discussion, the students are very enthusiastic and have great questions.”
Schiff said school visits also present opportunities to inspire students to get involved with politics. He said he pages and interns in his office over the years have told him their interest in government was sparked by seeing him speak to their classes.
That’s not true in Schiff’s case, though. He said he doesn’t remember seeing a lawmaker visit his alma mater, Monte Vista High School in Danville, Calif.
After the event, students approached Schiff to take photos and ask individual questions until the bell sent them hustling to their next class.