Volume 5, Issue 9
September 8, 2005
Board Holds Meeting, Elects Officers
UN Report Discusses Youth Rights
–Operation Patrick Henry (NYRA-Fairfield County)
–NYRA-Dallas High School
A Call for Donations
Staff Changes, Requests
News from the Web
Simply by looking at this issue’s table of contents, one will notice that the “chapter news” section is longer than it has been in the past. As NYRA grows and decentralizes, more and more chapters are becoming active, integral parts of the organization. This allows us to accomplish things as we never have in the past, and makes me optimistic when I think about what we can accomplish during over the course of the 05-06 term. With an involved, active board at the helm, a full time executive director, and a growing number of promising chapters, the months ahead may be the best we have experienced thus far.
Board Holds First Meeting, Elects Officers
The new NYRA board of directors held its first meeting on the evening Monday, August 29th. Eight of NYRA’s nine directors were in attendance, and the agenda was packed. The board added Scarlett Swerdlow and Kevin Keenan to the board of advisors. The board appointed members to committees and discussed the possible creation of new committees. They also formally thanked Rich Jahn for his service to the organization. Recognizing the need for a chapter policy, the board referred the matter to a committee. The board also referred the possible addition of “alternate directors” to the bylaws committee. The bylaws committee has since met, and submitted a draft proposal to the board of the directors with regard to alternates.
Perhaps most importantly, the board elected officers. Alex Koroknay-Palicz, who has served as NYRA’s President for five years, decided to step down so he could focus on his role as Executive Director. Robert Reynolds was unanimously elected to serve as President. Pamela Tatz and Jay Leff were both nominated to serve as Vice President. Via secret ballot, by a vote of 5-3, Pamela Tatz was elected Vice President. Katrina Moncure was unanimously elected to the office of Treasurer, and Scott Davidson was reelected to a third term as Secretary.
UN Report Discusses Youth Rights
The Innocenti Research Centre at UNICEF recently put out a lengthy report that interprets the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and explores many issues pertaining to youth and children’s rights. The report is over eighty pages long and presents a number of ideas, but there are a few that are very interesting to NYRA. The report, which is entitled “The Evolving Capacities of the Child,” finds that age does not always directly correspond with competence and capacity. The report also interprets certain language in the Convention on the Rights of the Child as limiting parental rights, and states that the convention refutes the notion that young people are the property of their parents.
The report goes on to state that there are obvious legal implications to all of this, and presents different ideas about age restrictions and the role they should or should not play in a society that respects the rights of young people. The report outlines the pros and cons of different ways of dealing with young people and age restrictions. They seem to think that a complete end to all age based restrictions is not practical, but they feel it is a serious idea worthy of discussion and consideration. The report indicates that age restrictions should not be implemented arbitrarily, and the overall tone suggests a feeling that young people ought to be granted more rights and treated with more dignity. The part of the report that deals most directly with youth rights and age restrictions actually cites John Holt’s Escape from Childhood, a book that has long been a part of NYRA’s ideological foundation.
The fact a body as prestigious and influential as the United Nations would issue a report like this is of great significance. “The Evolving Capacities of the Child” will add weight to our arguments. This report is written in a soft, moderate tone that contrasts some of the revolutionary ideas it presents, making it just the sort of thing NYRA can present to politicians and other potential supporters. NYRA extends its gratitude to Gerison Lansdown, The Innocenti Research Centre, and everyone who worked to make this possible. If you would like a copy of the report, please email us.
As usual, NYRA’s Berkeley chapter has had a very productive month. With the start of the school year, the chapter has been working to find a new faculty sponsor so they can remain a school club. The chapter is also holding officer elections, and the results will be available by next month’s issue.
NYRA-Berkeley has continued its outspoken support for voting age efforts in California. The chapter has been lobbying for ACA17, a bill that will allow seventeen year olds to vote in primaries if they will be eighteen by the general election. The chapter has also held meetings with Mark Leno, a law maker from San Francisco. The chapter hopes that Leno will introduce a bill to allow for local choice for the voting age. Such legislation will allow municipalities to lower their voting ages if they wish to do so. NYRA-Berkeley has been doing outstanding work for some time, and they have shown no signs of slowing down. Keep your eyes open for tangible, significant youth rights victories in Sacramento and the Bay area in the coming months.
NYRA’s Orange County chapter has been wildly successful so far. The chapter was part of the reason the California Democratic Party’s Executive Committee adopted a resolution calling for a lower voting age and more opportunities for youth participation in the democratic process. Convincing the Democratic Party in the largest state in the Union to officially endorse efforts to lower the voting age certainly ranks among NYRA’s greatest accomplishments.
Chapter officials plan to distribute literature at high schools, write to the Governor, and meet with an Assemblyman they know personally. The chapter has also been speaking with candidates hoping to represent the 48th Congressional District. At least three candidates for that seat, including Steve Young, who received the Democratic Party’s endorsement, support lowering the voting age. NYRA-Orange County played a key role in insuring that these individuals came out in support of a lower voting age.
The NYRA chapter in Paterson, New Jersey has shown a great deal of promise. They have been traveling throughout the city distributing information about the city’s authoritarian youth curfew. Someone donated a full sized van, and the chapter painted the NYRA logo on the side. With a whole van just for NYRA business, this is one of the most significant donations in NYRA history.
Operation Patrick Henry (NYRA-Fairfield County)
Founded by Jeremy A. Van Meter, NYRA Fairfield County is working on what it calls “Operation Patrick Henry,” an effort to expose and highlight the injustice that is the voting age. Inspired by the legacies of Patrick Henry and Susan B. Anthony, NYRA-Fairfield County’s campaign is an ambitious one.
NYRA-Fairfield County hopes to flood school board elections with working young people, who will bring their pay stubs and attempt to register to vote. This will underscore the hypocrisy of taxation without representation, which is still a reality for America’s working youth. If the campaign is successful, similar ones may spring up throughout the country. Please email Jeremy if you would like more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
NYRA-Dallas High School
NYRA-Dallas High School, NYRA’s newest chapter, is located in Wyoming, Pennsylvania. Founded by Kate Touhey, the chapter submitted its application and has been approved by the Executive Director. If you live in the area and would like to help, please send Kate an email: Oona2e@aol.com
A Call for Donations
During NYRA’s fundraising contest, our cash flow was higher than ever. The NYRA Board of Directors voted to allocate most of that money toward a salary for the executive director. This meant that Alex Koroknay-Palicz could quit his day job and focus solely on youth rights. His contract was to be renewed at the end of three months, but it does not look like we will have enough money. Cash flow is way down, and the national office is not in great shape financially. Some grant applications may result in an unprecedented amount of funds, but such things take time, and we have rather pressing concerns. If you can spare any money, please visit www.youthrights.org/donate.shtml. All donations are greatly appreciated.
Staff Changes, Requests
Chris Batchelor has been promoted from Interim South Regional Assistant to South Regional Assistant. Chris also serves as NYRA’s Student Defense Coordinator. Adam King, NYRA’s South Regional Captain, has announced his is looking for a Public Outreach Director and others to work with him. If you are interested, please email Adam King.
News From the Web
New Mike Males Interview
Let’s Have a Student Uprising
How Bingeing Became the New College Sport
Violence Sparks Creative Thinking on Curfew
A Business Built on the Troubles of Teenagers
Colo. bans young drivers’ cell phones
NYRA is growing in numbers and influence. Late 2003 to now has been beyond doubt the most exciting period in the modern youth rights movement. Campaigns in California, New York, and elsewhere give a generation of oppressed young people a reason to hope and feel optimistic. We are just beginning to reverse the tide of ageism and protectionist repression that has for so long pervaded the lives of young people in this country. We have come a long way, and we have a long way to go. As Winston Churchill once said: “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”