Lesson 10

Lesson Topics: Teen curfew bill; roles and preparation for Mock City Council

Aim: To prepare for the Mock City Council by reading and analyzing a teen curfew law.

Skills to be Addressed:

  • Reading and analyzing a bill
  • Hearing a full range of positions.
  • Playing a role to further democratic discussion
  • Providing evidence to support an opinion
  • Public speaking
  • Parliamentary procedure


Students will

  • Read, discuss, annotate, and form an opinion about a city law; research that law.
  • Prepare for role-playing at a Mock City Council.

Common Core Standards Addressed:

    • Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
    • Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).
    • By the end of grade 11, read and comprehend literary nonfiction in the grades 11- CCR text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
    • Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study;  explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of  ideas.
    • Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote divergent and creative perspectives.
    • Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning,    alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.
    • Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Timeframe: One 60-minute period.


Teacher Check List for Mock Council:
  • Arrange with another teacher or school (possibly through the Facebook page) to hold a mock council. Find a time and location for the Mock Council.  You could hold a more formal mock council at the city’s Council Chambers (arrange through the City Council office), the school district’s board meeting room or some other special venue. Classes have used the Council Chambers in the past. The University of New Mexico also has facilities that would lend verisimilitude to the proceedings.
  • Determine who will play the role of councilors (up to 9).
  • Determine who will play the role of council president.
  • Determine who will play the role of the sponsor of MC-05-20 (curfew bill).
  • Decide if you want anyone to play the role of the press at the meeting and what they will do. Can this be arranged with a journalism or media or language arts teacher, possibly as an extra-credit opportunity?
  • Determine who will play the role of the recorder. A teacher could play this role. The recorder
    • will collect names of the public who wish to speak.
    • keep track of the time allotted for each speaker and announce when thethree minutes is up.
    • could also collect proposed amendments to the bill.
    • could also record what happens at the meeting as minutes.
  • Arrange for someone to take pictures at the mock Council to post on the Model City Council Facebook page.


I. Read the curfew bill.

Explain that on [date] students will participate in a Mock City Council hearing at [location]. (The exercise could be limited to one class, be in conjunction with other classes in the school or involve other schools.) The student or students elected by the class will play the role of city councilors. Students chosen by a councilor to help him will play the role of Council Staff. Other students will play the roles of advocates and opponents of a bill.

  • The bill that will be debated at the Council is a real bill, passed by the Albuquerque City Council and signed into law by Mayor Martin Chávez in 1994.
  • In 1999, the Supreme Court struck down the city’s curfew, saying it violated state law and the due process rights of minors.
  • In 2016, The New Mexico House voted to approve a bill that would allow cities and counties to enact youth curfew ordinances, sending it on to the Senate, where it died in committee.
  • There is a reasonable chance in the future that the Legislature would enact a similar bill, making it possible for the city of Albuquerque to re-enact a curfew on minors.
  • You can read a history of Albuquerque’s curfew in the Journal article (handout), “Danger in the Dark” or at www.abqjournal.com/621867/will-curfew-make-our-kids-streets-safer.html

Read together the curfew ordinance. This bill is fairly straightforward and should hold interest for students. The first part, in caps, provides the structure of the bill. Have students annotate their copies, while thinking about which roles they might play at the council, i.e., police officer, parent, teacher, school principal, lawyer, business owner, person under 17. As you read, you might ask:

  • What’s a curfew?
  • Who’s considered a minor in this bill?
  • What reasons does the bill give for establishing a curfew? Do you think those are true? Fair?
  • Who can commit an offense and be punished by this bill? (a minor, a parent or guardian, a business owner)
  • What’s the fine for an offense? (not more than $500 or imprisonment not longer than 90 days or both.
  • What is Section 7 about? It’s amending another ordinance.
  • What’s the Severability Clause (Section 8) about? It separates (severs) the whole bill from any part that is found invalid.

Have students refer to the text of the ordinance using the Sections and headings under the sections and the line numbers to the left of the text.

II. Students choose roles to play at the Mock City Council, research and build arguments for or against the bill, and prepare for the Mock Council.

  • City Councilor – This elected representative will participate in debating the curfew bill, and vote on the bill. He will also read a resolution about the class’ winning PB project proposal at the Council.      
  • City Council Staff (2 to 4 students) These students will have 3 tasks:
    • To prepare their councilor for debate of the curfew bill.
    • To assist the councilor during the hearing. Staff members may communicate with their councilor via written notes during the hearing.
    • To write a resolution based on a Participatory Budgeting project for the councilor to read at the Mock City Council.
  • Advocates for the curfew bill (unlimited number of students). They will speak in favor of the bill, playing the role of a community member of public official. Students will be given 3 minutes to speak, and must write out their remarks before speaking. Roles that might be considered:
    • Police officer
    • Parent
    • Teacher
    • School principal
    • Lawyer
    • Business owner
  • Opponents of the curfew bill (unlimited number of students). They will speak in opposition to the bill, playing the role of a community member or public official. Students will be given 3 minutes to speak, and must write out their remarks before the mock hearing. Roles that might be considered:
    • Parent
    • Teenager
    • A homeless teenager
    • Teacher
    • School Principal
    • Business owner
    • Lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union

III. Students practice their roles and prepare for the mock council.

Pass out copies of

IV. Possible Homework

Watch a part of a City Council meeting. Videos of the meetings can be found at https://cabq.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.

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