State Rep. Janet Yang Rohr visits Naperville Central

William Tong, Editor-in-Chief & Editorial Editor

State Rep. Janet Yang Rohr of Illinois’ 41st district visited Naperville Central social studies classes on Feb. 4 to teach students about the legislative process. 

She gave several presentations in classrooms and the Little Theater throughout the day, focusing on federalism and separation of powers in policymaking because American government courses, which made up the majority of Yang Rohr’s audience, were recently finishing a unit on the foundations of American democracy. 

“In addition to how the federal government relates to the state government, we’re also trying to bring it down to how the state government relates to municipalities and even school districts, and where those different levels of authority reside,” Yang Rohr said. 

Much of her talk centered around legislation she has been working on in the last year, including bills that move Illinois away from fossil fuels, expand voting rights and guarantee insurance coverage for diabetes and vitamin D deficiency screening. 

“We went through a few examples where a lot of people would have liked the federal government to take more action,” she said. “Because they’re not, the Illinois state legislature is asserting its authority. We talked about a few examples there.” 

Yang Rohr ended each presentation with an overview of how constituents could connect with her and legislators in general. 

“Send me an email,” she said. “Give me a call. Give me a text. Every single month we also have coffee and conversation. We have town halls. We have citizen advisory panels.” 

Yang Rohr also periodically answered questions from the crowd. 

“Before we went into it, they said it was mostly going to be discussion,” American government student Ziad Elbego said. “When it actually started there was less discussion than expected. I felt the overall presentation was ok.”

Unlike with past politician visits, Yang Rohr reached out to Naperville Central social studies teachers first to schedule the event. 

“It’s very rare that you get an elected official that says ‘I want to go into the schools,’” social studies teacher Donna Mohn said. “The highlights were the question and answers from the students: what they thought was important, their opinions, their opportunity to participate in the discussion.”

Anyone can contribute to the policymaking process, Yang Rohr said. 

“The bills I introduce, so many of them came from constituents,” she said. “A lot of them came directly from students at Naperville Central. All it took was a conversation.