Across the country we have new sheriffs, district attorneys, judges, register of deeds and clerks of court. Each job requires special training and a certain level of education. While the candidates campaigned on their experience, character, agendas and the flaws of the incumbent; voters are often not provided with a clear resume that details true qualifications or education levels. Voters may vote for “better law enforcement” or judges who are “hard on crime” but the reality is that many of these offices are dictated by state laws and regulations. Winning the election may be the easy part. Managing a large office or department can be difficult and becoming the supervisor to employees may be a new experience.
Many states have minimal requirements for offices, for example North and South Carolina require District Attorneys to be 21 years of age, registered to vote, and a practicing lawyer. Lesser offices require a high school diploma. States vary on the qualifications for Sheriff. Tennessee has a long list of requirements, including a post-election psychological evaluation. Oklahoma requires four years of prior experience and lists a large number of required trainings. Most states require some type of ethics training and state and national legislatures have orientation sessions for new members.
All of these nuances provide instructors with a large number of potential discussions, assignments and group projects. We can have students evaluate experience, compare requirements between states and research education levels. Better yet, are your students qualified to run for sheriff? Can a convicted felon vote in an election? Could they run for office? Could your local sheriff be a convicted felon?
What questions could you ask your students to research?
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