NYRA Freedom

Volume 11, Issue 5
June 16, 2011


– NYRA Forms Coalition Requesting Apology from Rockefeller and Gingrich
– Election Two Weeks Away, Annual Meeting Next Month
– Effort Renewed to Put Youth on NYC Community Boards
– Koroknay-Palicz Defends Youth Privacy at Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference
– Bill to Curtail Corporal Punishment Awaits Governor Perry’s Signature
– NYRA Joins the National Coalition Against Censorship
– Youth Service America CEO Joins NYRA Board of Advisors
– Hastings Sonic Screen
– New Haven Students Lead Campaign to Lower Voting Age
– Nominees Announced for the Second Annual NYRA Awards
– NYRA Supports SPLC Lawsuit Against Mississippi Juvenile Detention Center
– Shop for Youth Rights with Give Back America

NYRA Forms Coalition Requesting Apology from Rockefeller and Gingrich

Politicians often think of young people as recipients of services rather than actors in the process. This type of thinking can lead them to make some offensive comments. These comments are borne out of genuine prejudice against young people and the knowledge that no one will stand up to defend them. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Presidential Candidate and former Speaker of The House Newt Gingrich were probably counting on that a few weeks ago when they made derogatory and public remarks about young people.

During a Senate hearing and acting as Chairman, Senator Rockefeller recently stated that “it’s my general feeling that people who are 20, 21, 22 years old really don’t have any social values.” Mr. Gingrich, speaking on the campaign trail suggested that young people should be
required to take a test before they’re allowed to vote.

NYRA assembled a coalition of organizations representing young people that included Youth Service America, the United States Student Association, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the Freechild Project, the U.S. Youth Chamber of Commerce and Youth Activism Project. We sent the following letter to Senator Rockefeller and Mr. Gingrich and cc’d a variety of democratic and republican campaign committees as well as members of the press. Here is the text of the

Dear Senator Rockefeller and Mr. Gingrich,

As representatives of organizations representing the interests of young people we respectfully request that you apologize for your recent negative statements regarding young Americans.

Young Americans are defending this country and our values (and your job) around the world – including in Iraq and Afghanistan where, according to you, the average soldier has no social values. They are serving in the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, with Youth Service America, Teach For America, and as firefighters, police officers, and paramedics. Are you really saying that these people have no values? Are you really saying that their commitment needs to be tested
before we allow them the vote?

America’s young people are serving their communities at record rates, and more than any generation in history. They are aiding the homeless, defending the environment, advocating for social justice and are deeply concerned about global issues. They are responsible, thoughtful, and civically engaged; and every day they make decisions guided by their, very considerable, social values.

We hope that your recent comments about young Americans represent merely a lapse in judgment and look forward to reading your apology.

Election Two Weeks Away, Annual Meeting Next Month

In exactly two weeks the 2011 NYRA Board Election will begin! We’ve got an impressive slate of candidates this year. Six incumbents are running for reelection and nine challengers are vying for a spot on the board. This is one of the more diverse and impressive fields we have seen. Current board members seeking reelection are: Jeffrey Nadel, Jackie Ferro, Katrina Moncure, Nigel Jones, Usiel Phoenix and Keith Mandell. Also running for the board are Kathleen O’Neal, Chris Hardy, Eric Goldstein, Samantha Godwin, Max Harmony, Jaylen Bledsoe, Gibson Katz, Daniel Karpantschof and Connell Wise. All dues paying NYRA members will receive their ballots on June 30.

This election also has several bylaw amendments for the membership to approve. One of which bars staff members from serving on the board of directors, meaning that this is the first time since 1999 that Executive Director Alex Koroknay-Palicz will not be running for the board. With his absence, the election will be wide open, so it is more important than ever to become a member and vote!

The election will conclude on July 30 at our Annual Meeting. A tentative schedule will be released next week, but we can tell you this will be the first Annual Meeting with breakout sessions, effectively doubling the amount of workshops and activities at this year’s conference. Together with our first ever keynote speaker, Dr. Robert Epstein, the widely recognized author of Teen 2.0 (formerly The Case Against Adolescence), this will be the biggest most involved and most participatory annual meeting in NYRA history.

There is still time to register for the conference, please do so here:

Effort Renewed to Put Youth on NYC Community Boards

NYRA has written a Memorandum of Support for a bill introduced in the New York Assembly & Senate that would allow New York City to appoint 16 and 17-year-olds to local community boards. These community boards have an important advisory role in dealing with land use and zoning matters, the City budget, municipal service delivery, and many other matters relating to their communities’ welfare. This is an important step to providing young people a true voice in their government and community.

This bill, introduced by Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and State Senator Andrew Lanza, is the newest chapter in a campaign NYRA has been involved in since 2005. At that time Future Voters of America (FVA) and New York City Councilwoman Gale Brewer introduced a bill to lower the voting age to 16 in New York City. The effort brought a great deal of attention to the issue but ultimately did not pass. Groups supporting that effort, such as FVA, NYRA and the Police Athletic League then worked on a campaign to allow young people on community boards in the city. The bill nearly passed last year, and all involved feel we have a good opportunity to pass it now.

Read NYRA’s Memorandum of Support here.

Koroknay-Palicz Defends Youth Privacy at Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference

The American Library Association (ALA) assembled a panel to discuss Youth, Privacy and Freedom at this year’s Computers, Freedom and Privacy Conference in Washington, DC. NYRA was pleased to participate in the very successful ALA conference on Youth & Privacy in Chicago this March, and was honored to be invited to speak on this panel. Like the conference in Chicago, most of the focus of other panelists was on the dangers of young people sharing information online. While recognizing the challenges this new era of social networking creates, NYRA’s Executive Director respectfully disagreed that Facebook was the greatest threat to the privacy of teens. He pointed out the many invasive ways in which schools, the government and parents regularly invade the privacy of youth. While unfortunately cut short, the presentation was well received and will likely lead to greater collaboration between NYRA and other privacy

Check out Koroknay-Palicz’s full presentation here.

Bill to Curtail Corporal Punishment Awaits Governor Perry’s Signature

NYRA advocates, staff and partners have been working diligently over the past six months to support efforts by Texas lawmakers to curtail corporal punishment in the State of Texas. Currently, Texas leads the nation (and therefore the world) in the number of students beaten with wooden boards in public schools every year. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of NYRA members and others who called, faxed, emailed, and testified in front of Texas officials encouraging them to support HB 359, that bill has now passed both the House and the Senate. This historical bill marks the first time the state of Texas has ever placed restrictions on the use of corporal punishment and will, for the first time, allow parents to opt-out and protect their children from the paddle. This is a big win in a big state on an important issue. Many thanks to our partners in the Coalition Against School Paddling as well as the dedicated NYRA members who traveled to Austin to support this bill. 31 states down, 19 to go!

NYRA Joins the National Coalition Against Censorship

Young people are often censored and when they are NYRA is there to defend their right to free speech. The first amendment does not enforce itself and it’s of critical importance that there exist organizations willing to fight for the right to speak. NYRA is pleased this month to announce that we have joined the National Coalition Against Censorship. NCAC offers direct assistance and counseling to anyone confronted with censorship and serves as a clearinghouse of information. The coalition unites over 50 organizations dedicated to promoting free expression. To learn more about NCAC check out their website: http://www.ncac.org/

Hastings Sonic Screen

NYRA Member Becca Cooke was surfing the internet for news recently when she came across a story about Hastings, MN. The Hastings Parks & Recreation Department was considering installing a Sonic Screen device in a local park in order to deter teenaged vandals. The Sonic Screen utilizes the imfamous Mosquito technology which emits a high pitch sound that only young ears can hear. Remembering NYRA’s successful campaign to remove a Mosquito from the Gallery Place Metro in Washington, DC last fall, Becca contacted NYRA staff to let them know about Hastings’ proposal. Realizing that there was still time to influence the discussion and that NYRA’s point of view hadn’t been represented in the debate thus far we sent a letter to the director of the Hastings Parks & Recreation and cc’d the Hastings Mayor and City Council as well as various press outlets.

The Hastings Parks & Recreation Commission met on June 14th to discuss the device and were not able to come to a decision directly citing the concerns raised in our letter. They have scheduled a meeting for June 22nd to discuss the matter further. NYRA members can weigh in on this issue by contacting Barry Bernstein, the Director of Parks & Recreation for Hastings. He can be reached at bbernstein@ci.hastings.mn.us or 651-480-6176. Let him know that targeting all of Hastings’ youth is not the solution to vandalism.

Youth Service America CEO Joins NYRA Board of Advisors

By a vote of the board of directors, we are pleased to announce that Steve Culbertson, the President and CEO of Youth Service America has been appointed to the NYRA Board of Advisors. Born in Bitburg, Germany and raised in Amherst, MA Steve began his career as Director of Communications for the Chi Psi Educational Trust in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He went on to serve as Vice President for Development and College Relations at Connecticut College and Vice President for Marketing at Sumner Rahr & Company in Chicago, specializing in philanthropic support, communications, and strategic planning for nonprofits. Prior to YSA, he worked with the Environmental Defense Fund to organize the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment. In 1996, Steve founded SERVEnet, the largest database of volunteer opportunities in America and in 2000 developed Global Youth Service Day, the largest single day service event in the world. Steve has twice been named to the Nonprofit Times list of “The 50 most powerful and influential leaders” in the sector.

Steve is no stranger to NYRA. YSA is NYRA’s landlord and he regularly provides advice and support to our executive staff. Last month, when Senator Rockefeller made insensitive comments about young people Steve and YSA were the first outside group to sign on to a NYRA drafted letter requesting an apology. We look forward to working more closely with Steve and have high hopes and expectations for his tenure. Welcome aboard Steve!

New Haven Students Lead Campaign to Lower Voting Age

A youth-led group in New Haven started a campaign to lower the voting age in New Haven’s local elections. They announced the New18 campaign on the steps on New Haven City Hall on May 27th and received press coverage from both the New Haven Independent and the New Haven Register. New18 representatives met with Board of Aldermen member Marcus Paca on June 7, where Marcus expressed his support for the campaign and stressed the importance of youth activism in local politics. On June 16, New18 representatives met with Deputy Secretary of State James Spallone to discuss the logistical aspects of their policy proposal. The student group wrote a letter to the editor, published in the New Haven Independent, articulating their position on lowering the voting age. Read the article here.

New18 representatives have spoken to NYRA staff about the campaign and are currently working with us to form a New Haven NYRA Chapter. To support their cause, check out their website at http://thenew18.tumblr.com and follow them on Twitter.

Nominees Announced for the Second Annual NYRA Awards

NYRA is pleased to announce the nominees for the 2011 NYRA Awards! The Awards were created last year to recognize significant contributions to the field of youth rights, both for and against. The three awards are the Youth Rights Progress Award, the NYRA Achievement Award and Ageist of the Year Award. The Youth Rights Progress Award honors the person or group that has done the most to advance the rights, equality and empowerment of youth, and this year’s four nominees are: the Cambridge Kids Council & the United Teen Equality Center for their work to lower the voting age in Massachusetts, Marc Ecko and his Unlimited Justice campaign for their work to stop corporal punishment in school, the anonymous online activists who successfully shut down the abusive behavior modification program, Elan, and the students who wore I (Heart) Boobies bracelets to spread awareness about breast cancer despite efforts by their school to ban the bracelets.

The second award, NYRA Achievement Award is awarded to the person or group that has contributed the most toward the success of the National Youth Rights Association. Three candidates were chosen: Usiel Phoenix for her active involvement in many NYRA campaigns this year including testifying for legislation in DC, Texas and Massachusetts and building NYRA-NYU, Nigel Jones for leading successful campaigns this year to remove the Mosquito device from the DC metro and stopping an ageist policy at a Giant grocery store, and Chris Hardy who created a student defense program at his high school and successfully defended many students before the school board and restored his school’s student council after it was disbanded.

Finally, four Ageist of the Year Award nominees were named, recognizing the person or group that contributed the most toward the prevalence of negative opinions toward young people or toward impeding the cause of youth rights, they are: Amy Chua whose book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, advocated a very strict, authoritarian way of raising children, Laurence Steinberg, who is a main proponent of the disastrous myth that teen brains are inferior, Senator Eric Adams who widely encouraged parents to search through the rooms and possessions of their children, and Bruce Ratner owner of the property who installed the ear splitting Mosquito device in DC to drive away teenage ‘pests’.

The NYRA Board of Directors will decide on winners at their July meeting and the award will be presented on July 30 at the 2011 NYRA Annual Meeting.

NYRA Supports SPLC Lawsuit against Mississippi Juvenile Detention Center

NYRA is pleased to support the Southern Poverty Law Center’s lawsuit against the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center in Jackson, Mississippi for the center’s inhumane and unconstitutional treatment of young people. The center has repeatedly subjected its residents to prolonged periods of isolation, verbal abuse, and threats of physical harm. The center’s actions are blatant violations of the juvenile’s constitutional rights. Specific abuses include a staff member encouraging a teen to kill himself when the teen began cutting himself with a razor, staff members confining juveniles to their cells for 23 hours a day, and staff withholding medicine from children with serious mental health problems. SPLC is filing suit along with Disability Rights Mississippi after several attempts to resolve the issues with county
officials failed. Read the SPLC press release here.

NYRA has been in touch with lawyers at the Southern Poverty Law Center. NYRA staff and advocates are prepared to do whatever they can to support the SPLC in their fight to defend the rights of young people. Learn more about SPLC and their work here:

Shop for Youth Rights with Give Back America

Do you shop at websites like Amazon.com, Target or Best Buy? Starting today, a percentage of your online purchases can be donated to NYRA at no extra cost thanks to Give Back America, an online charity website. Anywhere from 1 to 5 percent of your purchases from sites like Amazon.com, Staples, Barnes and Noble, Dell, and numerous others will be donated to NYRA when you shop using Give Back America. This is a convenient way to donate to NYRA at no extra cost to you! Simply visit the NYRA page on Give Back America’s website and select the online site you would like to shop at. NYRA only receives a commission when you go to the site through Give Back America. You can view a list of participating retailers and start shopping for youth rights at http://www.youthrights.org/shopforyouthrights. Remember to support NYRA the next time you shop!


June 21 – Informal Chat
8 pm – 12 am Eastern
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
IM SciVille if you need an invite

June 30 – NYRA Election Begins
Election lasts until July 30
All paid members can vote, pay dues here:

July 4 – Informal Chat
8 pm – 12 am Eastern
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
IM SciVille if you need an invite

July 16 – #16tovote on the 16th
All Day – Tweet about the voting age and include the hashtag #16tovote

July 17 – Board Meeting
8 pm – 10:30 pm Eastern
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
IM Alex From NYRA if you need an invite

July 19 – Informal Chat
8 pm – 12 am Eastern
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
IM SciVille if you need an invite

July 29-31 – NYRA Annual Meeting
Washington, DC
More info and register here:


Delay of Self

Student Rights and Wrongs

Become a NYRA Member!

Tracy Morgan, the Concept of Parental Ownership of Children, and the Intersection of Youth and LGBT Rights

NYRA Support For Youth on Community Boards in NYC


NYRA Related

Youth Rights Group Protests Sound Device Proposed to Repel Teens from Hastings Park

N.J.’s Young-Driver Decals ‘Not Working,’ Many Agree

Lowering Drinking Age Won’t Save More Lives

Coalition of Youth Organizations Wants Apology from Gingrich Rockefeller

Jeffrey Nadel on KGO San Francisco

Gingrich Youth Poll Test Proposal Draws Fire

National Youth Rights Day 2011 Interviews

Sonic Screen is Age Discrimination, One Opponent Says

Questions Have to be Answered on Sonic Screen


Old Enough to Vote?

Ex-New Haven Alderman Robert Lee Enters Mayoral Race

The Failure of American Schools

Screech Machine Could Drive Teens Away From Park

Safer Youth Curfew Considered for Safer Uptown

For Teen Job-Seekers, Summer Again Offers Dismal Prospects.

Co-Op High Students: Let Us Vote

School Paddling Case Reflects State’s Division Over Corporal Punishment

Advocates Call for End to Paddling in 45 Kentucky School Districts

California Bill To Give Parents Access To Kids Facebook Pages

Teen Discovers Promising Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

SLO Curfew Rules May be Eased

TDSB to Lift Student Cell Phone Ban

Arizona High Court Sets New Rules for Police’s ‘Protective Sweeps’

Millville Proposes Earlier Curfew

City Council Responds to Curfew Proposal

Homophobic FL Principal Outs Lesbian Students

TSA to Oversee Searches at Santa Fe Prom

Zuckerberg: Facebook Should Allow Kids Under 13

Teenage Editor is About to be His Principal’s Boss

German Town Lowers Voting Age to 16

Troubled Youth in State Jails Receiving Potent Anti-Psychotic Drugs

Age Curfew in Falls has Rockin’ First Week

Ohio College to Review Ban on Peaceful Distribution of Literature on Campus

Aussie Student Finds Universe’s ‘Missing Mass’

Schools in Sweden Can’t Be Beaten: Corporal Punishment Around The World

The Case For Lowering the Voting Age…To Zero

Man Charged with Underage Drinking Hours Before Turning 21

Founder of Electric Shock Autism Treatment School Forced to Quit

High Schooler Challenges Michele Bachmann to Constitution Showdown

Michele Bachmann’s Stance on Evolution Demolished by High School Student

Pastor’s Brother Pleads Guilty to Child Abuse for Corporal Punishment of Kids

School Spanking Comes Under Fire

Rotenberg Founder Set to Face Charges

Dozier to Close

A Generation of Slackers? Not So Much

11 Inventions Made by Kids

Jobless Discrimination? When Firms Won’t Even Consider Hiring Anyone Unemployed

Do Today’s Grads Have a Sense of Entitlement?

Should You Take an Unpaid Internship?

Corporal Punishment in American Schools — Teaching Through Terror?

Education Department Increases Its Regulation of For-Profit Colleges

The Next Bubble Is About to Burst: College Grads Face Dwindling Jobs and Mounting Loans

Honor the Troops By Hiring Them

Feeling Inspired But Not Getting Hired

Dead Kids Make Bad Laws

Should 18 Be The New 21 for Legalized Drinking?

SPLC Files Lawsuit Against Jackson Public Schools After Students Handcuffed, Shackled to Poles


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