Volume 11, Issue 2
February 17, 2011
Editors: Jackie Ferro, Katrina Moncure, Sidnei Banks, Alex Koroknay-Palicz
Publisher: David Moss
– NYRA President is Becoming a Regular on the National Stage
– Real Progress on Lowering the Voting Age in Washington State led by NYRA-Seattle
– Chapter Meeting a Huge Success
– NYRA Keeps Behavior Modification Hopes Alive
– Texas Corporal Punishment Campaign Heats Up
– Heading Back to Court for Two New Amicus Briefs
– #16tovote on the 16th Turns One Year Old!
Things have been very exciting at the National Youth Rights Association lately. In the past month NYRA representatives have been to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives and the United Nations. We’ve been featured in the national press on a number of issues. We’re launching concentrated advocacy efforts against corporal punishment and behavior modification facilities. We’ve submitted amicus briefs to defend youth rights in cases at the US Supreme Court and the 11th Circuit Court. We’re making ourselves heard in town halls, CNN Bureaus, blogs and courtrooms around the country. We’ve got the momentum right now and it’ll be impossible to slow us down.
NYRA President is Becoming a Regular Fixture on the National Stage
NYRA President, Jeffrey Nadel was on Headline News’ Prime News program twice in the last two weeks to discuss issues of youth privacy. Go NYRA! On January 31, 2010 Jeff debated New York State Senator Eric Adams of Brooklyn. Senator Adams’ urged parents to spy on their children as a way to prevent illegal activity in the household. Nadel countered his argument by pointing out that parents who search their children’s rooms are going to make it harder for children to trust their parents and therefore drive children away. Nadel‘s argument left the Senator speechless as he ended the segment with “I’m an adult.” Two weeks later, host Vinnie Politan invited Nadel back to counter Police Chief James Batelli of Mahwah, NJ who believes that parents should “steal passwords, use spyware to figure out what your kids are doing online.” Nadel, once again, was very prepared and nailed the rebuttal. So, what do Senator Adams and Chief Batelli have in common? They’re both local public officials with no good ideas who scapegoat young people and expect no serious opposition. People often assume that youth cannot defend themselves but that was not the case this time. NYRA has emerged as a recognized national voice in defense of youth rights.
Watch NYRA on CNN here:
Real Progress on Lowering the Voting Age in Washington State led by NYRA-Seattle
A bill to lower the voting age has recently been introduced in Washington State by Sen. Scott White, thanks to our newest chapter NYRA-Seattle. Senate Bill 5621 has created the possibility of a lower voting age in Washington, allowing 14 year olds to vote for school board members. Although the odds of the bill actually passing are not very high, the chapter says it’s goal was to start the conversation in Washington and bring attention to the issue. Chapter leader Jesse Seidman believes that because school board decisions have the most influence on the students in the schools, the students have the right to vote for the board members. Although the bill faces much opposition, the bill is shining a spotlight on the voting age issue and sparking conversation and debate about it. And if it passes, it will make Washington the first state to grant voting rights in general elections to people under 18.
Chapter Meeting a Huge Success
On January 27th, NYRA had its first chapter meeting of the year. 10 chapters were present, including NYRA-Bergen County, NYRA-New York University, NYRA-Southeast Florida, NYRA-Los Angeles, NYRA-Stockton, NYRA-Potsdam, NYRA-Nanuet, NYRA-Austin, NYRA-DC, and NYRA-Berkeley. NYRA-Bergen County has managed to get the student government reinstated at Midland Park High School after their long fight with the Board of Education while maintaining their campaign opposing Kyleigh’s Law (an ageist legislation targeting young drivers) and working to recruit new members. Newly formed NYRA-NYU is currently in a year-long club development program with other official NYU clubs. The chapter’s main focus is opposing an ageist restriction on young shoppers at the Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn and has begun planning peaceful protests. They also intend to work to lower the drinking age and create awareness about behavior modification programs. Across New York State is NYRA-Potsdam, led by Alexander Ivanoff, which plans to become a registered SUNY-Potsdam chapter.
NYRA-DC is currently working on maintaining an active chapter and increasing membership and plans to hold a second annual prohibition party on National Youth Rights Day – April 14th. Similarly, NYRA-Nanuet is currently working to recruit members. They are also working on a National Youth Rights Day campaign, hoping to reprise their “Wear Blue for Youth Rights” campaign from last year. NYRA-Austin is also focusing on National Youth Rights Day, hoping to organize a benefit show at a local rock venue. They’re also currently recovering from ageist accusations against chapter President Dalton Scott.
NYRA-Southeast Florida is currently preparing for their hearing against the West Palm Beach curfew, scheduled two months from now. They have also begun National Youth Rights Day planning and are negotiating unjust school policies authorizing teachers and administrators to violate student privacy by reading their text messages and forcing them to take blood tests due to suspicion of marijuana abuse. NYRA-Los Angeles has also taken a stand against injustices in their school, protesting the random and unwarranted use of drug dogs at Temple City High School. The chapter is also planning a “Know Your Rights Day” on March 26th this year. Another California chapter leader, Alyssa Palomares of NYRA-Stockton, is working to spread awareness about youth rights through various local events including a fundraiser at a local restaurant and a possible benefit show.
NYRA Keeps Behavior Modification Regulation Hopes Alive
Last session, the U.S. Senate failed to take any action on H.R. 911 – a bill that would regulate the abusive teenage behavior modification industry that passed the House with bipartisan support. Inspired by a meeting organized by NYRA Board Members Jenny Harkin and Hal Levy, Senator Tom Harkin’s office led a sincere effort to include some of the components of HR 911 in the re-authorization of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. Due to partisan gridlock, that effort failed as well. Not content to let the issue die, NYRA staffers headed to Capitol Hill again last week to discuss the future of the bill. They were pleased to learn that the Chairman plans to introduce a Senate version of H.R. 911. As Chairman of the powerful Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee – Senator Harkin is in a great position of influence to get some movement on this upcoming Senate bill. If passed, the bill could be worked out in conference with House leadership. NYRA expects the announcement of this new Senate bill to happen sometime this Spring.
Texas Corporal Punishment Campaign Heats Up
As Texas experiences unprecedented wintry conditions the campaign to end corporal punishment is heating up. After working with NYRA allies and supporters to craft a bill to end the practice, Rep. Alma Allen introduced HB 916. NYRA plans to vigorously support and encourage passage of this bill. Our own Dave Moss has written about this important legislation for Change.org.
Check out his article and sign the petition here:
Stop Hitting Kids: Improve Texas Schools
Heading Back to Court for Two New Amicus Briefs
Two years ago NYRA joined its first amicus brief, in the case of Safford v. Redding, in which a middle school student was strip searched because school officials suspected she had Ibuprofen. We were proud to help Savana Redding win her case at the US Supreme Court. Last summer NYRA joined an amicus brief in the US Supreme Court case of Schwarzenegger v. EMA, at issue is whether California may ban violent video games for individuals under 18. No decision in that case yet, but we aren’t going to sit back and wait, we’re moving forward with two more cases this year.
The first case, once again at the US Supreme Court, is Camreta v. Greene, which involves a 9-year-old girl who was forcibly detained for two hours in school as she was interrogated by the police. There was no warrant, her parents weren’t notified and she wasn’t herself under suspicion of any wrongdoing (her father was), yet she was not free to go. This would not have been permitted were she not in school, and the state is arguing that students give up their rights when they go to school. NYRA disagrees and has joined this case.
The second case, this time at the 11th Circuit Court, called Barnes v. Zaccari, involves a student at Valdosta State University who was expelled from school for protesting the construction of a new parking garage. We are joining the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and other groups who believe that free speech should be protected in college and there should be consequences for violating the rights of students. In both cases, NYRA was invited to join the briefs. Our reputation is rising and we are being seen as an important partner for defending the rights of youth. We will keep everyone informed of progress in these cases.
#16tovote on the 16th turns one year old!
Beginning February 16, 2010 youth rights supporters on Twitter have been participating in a hashtag campaign called #16tovote on the 16th in order to raise awareness of and show solidarity with the cause to lower the voting age to 16. The idea is that during the 16th each month, participants post to Twitter about lowering the voting age, including the hashtag #16tovote, which is a way to categorize posts on Twitter. The event celebrated its first anniversary this past Wednesday, on February 16, 2011. The last two months have had the most participation the event has seen. NYRA board member Katrina Moncure, who manages NYRA’s Twitter account and founded #16tovote on the 16th, says she is very thankful to everyone who has participated and helped to make the event the success it has been, hoping in its second year it will grow even more and inform more people of this important cause of lowering the voting age.
Follow NYRA on Twitter! http://twitter.com/youthrights
March 7 – Informal Chat
8 pm – 12 am Eastern
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
IM SciVille if you need an invite
March 13 – Board Meeting
8 pm – 10:30 pm Eastern
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
IM Alex From NYRA if you need an invite
March 15 – Informal Chat
8 pm – 12 am Eastern
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
IM SciVille if you need an invite
March 16 – #16tovote on the 16th
All Day – Tweet about the voting age and include the hashtag #16tovote
April 14 – National Youth Rights Day
Hold An Event to Build Awareness of Youth Rights
August 6 & 7 – NYRA Annual Meeting
If you would like to receive this newsletter and other NYRA announcements by e-mail, sign up here!