NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229
Volume 10, Issue 5 May 19, 2010
Editors: Emily Sanders, Julian Gutierrez and Lu Wang
Publisher: David Moss


– Introduction
– Kyleigh’s Law puts the Bullseye on Youth
– NYRA Fights Bill to Raise Driving Age Nationally
– Vermont Senate Approved Resolution for Relieving Drinking Age Penalty
– NYRA’s new logo
– US Supreme Court Limits Life Without Parole for Youth
– NYRA receives a Google Grant!
– The Board Election is Coming, Are You Ready?
– NYRA is offering a Grassroots Organizing Fellowship!
– Calendar
– NYRA Blog Updates
– News From the Web
– Conclusion


NYRA-USA is looking forward to summer. Our fundraising is really taking off now. We recently received a Google Grant and have sent out tens of thousands of dollars worth of asks to foundations. In the wake of our successful event at Stetson’s last month, we have a number of fun and exciting events planned for the summer. We recently sent out a spring appeal mailing that is yielding great results and our give by text campaign is up and running! ( text “isupport youth” to 20222 to give $10 ). It’s a busy time for the program team as well. The drinking age debate remains hot as we gained a recent legislative victory in Vermont. The debate over increased restrictions on teenage drivers is really heating up and NYRA members and staff are playing key roles in the debate. Read all about it below!

Kyleigh’s Law puts the Bullseye on Youth

Kyleigh’s Law, which went into effect on May 1, 2010, adds additional requirements to New Jersey’s Graduated Driver’s License program. The most controversial of these new requirements is that any driver who is under the age of 21 and holds a driver’s permit or probationary license is required to buy a pair of red decals and display them on the top left corners of their front and rear license plates. The rationale behind this, according to proponents of the law, is that the decals help law enforcement to ensure that GDL holders are following the legal restrictions placed on them (such as curfew laws and passenger limits).
However, the law has created a controversy. For one thing, it could lead to police profiling. Also, the safety of the young drivers under this law has been questioned. A similar law was passed in Florida in the ‘90s (requiring those with a rental vehicle to have indicators on their license plates) and it lead to the murders of nine people. There is a fear that the Kyleigh’s Law decals will identify young, solitary drivers and make them easy targets for people with malicious intentions.
NYRA has been a vocal opponent of Kyleigh’s Law and has gained a substantial amount of press for encouraging New Jersey drivers to protest Kyleigh’s Law. It is illegal for a driver who falls under the requirements of the law to not display the decal; however, there are no limits as to who can buy the decals (or how many). If drivers voluntarily choose to display the decals, the decals would be rendered useless as a way to identify young drivers.
NYRA was out in front on this issue, we were the first organized group to oppose this law. Now, dozens of lawmakers who originally supported the bill are rethinking their support – some have introduced amendments to overturn the decal requirement. We are also pleased to announce the creation of a new local chapter, NYRA-Central Jersey which was created specifically to fight for the overturn of the decal requirement. Chapter founder and president, Bernadette Calderone, is organizing protests against the law. See the news roundup below for all the coverage of NYRA’s involvement with Kyleigh’s Law. Also, stay tuned to http://centraljersey.youthrights.org for more developments.

NYRA Fights Bill to Raise Driving Age Nationally

In the midst of an active fight in New Jersey over Kyleigh’s Law, the US Senate is looking into imposing national driver’s license standards through the STAND UP ACT. This law, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Gillibrand, Dodd, and Klobuchar would effectively raise the age to get a driver’s permit to 16 and a full driver’s license to 18 in every state. Before 18, drivers would have passenger restrictions, a driving curfew and a ban on all use of cell phones while driving. The supporters of this bill claim it is in step with the direction the nation is going, however the vast majority of states are not on board with the requirements in this bill. In fact this law would raise the age for a learner’s permit in 41 states and raise the age for a full license in 32 states.
As with Kyleigh’s Law, NYRA has been actively speaking out against this new bill. Unlike Kyleigh’s Law, we can hopefully defeat this bill now, before it passes. NYRA representatives have been sought for comment by USA Today, Politico, Fox 29 WTFX in Philadelphia and NBC KARE 11 News in Minneapolis. The Detroit Free Press will be printing an op-ed written by NYRA Executive Director, Alex Koroknay-Palicz opposing new restrictions in Michigan’s graduated driver’s license.

Vermont Senate Approved Resolution for Relieving Drinking Age Penalty

The Vermont Senate has passed a resolution asking the federal government to drop its threat of penalties for states that want to lower their drinking age. The resolution states that the minimum drinking age should be left to state discretion and cites several reasons why 18 would be a more appropriate minimum age.
Congress was urged to create a waiver from the federal transportation funding penalties for states that would like to explore policy alternatives to the 21 year-old drinking age. Vermonters have been debating lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18. According to the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, all states are required to raise their minimum purchase and public possession of alcohol age to 21. States that do not comply face a reduction in highway funds under the Federal Highway Aid Act. By passing this resolution, Vermont hopes to gain more flexibility when it comes to how they deal with the drinking age.
The resolution concludes, “he Senate of the State of Vermont urges Congress to authorize the states to address the problems associated with underage consumption of alcohol by obtaining waivers from federal law to avoid triggering federal funding penalties.”
It is a big win for youth rights advocates as this is the first time since 1984 that something like this has been passed. The resolution represents a milestone in the nationwide movement to rethink 21-year-old drinking age. Still, the resolution is just the first step in the long process.

NYRA’s New Logo

By now, you may have noticed our new logo. Last month, we offered a prize of $150 to whoever could design a winning logo. We received almost 100 potential designs of varying looks and eventually chose one that we believe best represents us. According to the designer, the eagle represents freedom and the flame represents passion and youth, two qualities that he felt described us well. Check out our new logo here: http://youthrights.org/images/NewNYRALogo.jpg.

US Supreme Court Limits Life Without Parole for Youth

On May 17th, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision that ended the practice of sentencing juveniles who have committed crimes short of murder to life without the possibility of parole. This case, Graham v. Florida, is an important decision that will have a far reaching impact on the lives and rights of young people. The result has been heralded by many as a victory for young people and for just & fair sentencing. It is clear that life without parole has very different impacts on different individuals. For example, a 15-year-old with such a sentence serves 30 years longer than a 45-year-old with the same sentence. Considering young people are denied equal adult rights, to subject them to equal adult punishment is the height of injustice.
Unfortunately, however, this decision was based partly on the shaky ground of teen brain science and could harm the pursuit of equal rights for youth. Just like with the 2005 case of Roper v. Simmons, a case may have a positive pro-youth result but set the stage for future harmful laws and policies. A number of laws and court cases seeking to restrict the rights of youth in the last 5 years have cited the Roper v. Simmons case. Next year the Supreme Court will rule on whether states can ban the sale of violent video games to people under 18. If the Court upholds the ban on violent video games, it is reasonable to assume the teen brain arguments in Graham v. Florida will play a role.
Justice Clarence Thomas, in a dissenting opinion cited NYRA advisor Dr. Robert Epstein to refute the majority’s opinion that young people lack the brain power and ability to determine right and wrong. Dr. Epstein’s book, Teen 2.0, recently was awarded the 2010 National Indie Excellence Award in the Parenting & Family Section. Contact us at nyra@youthrights.org if you’re interested in purchasing a copy.

NYRA receives a Google Grant!

Dave Moss, NYRA’s director of development and operations is pleased to announce that NYRA was recently awarded a Google Grant. Google Grants don’t work like regular grants; instead, they provide $330 per day in free advertising with Google AdWords. That’s $10,000 a month or $120,000 a year! How well the grant works depends on how well we manage it. If anyone has any ideas for how we should effectively advertise with Google, please feel free to share them by emailing dmoss@youthrights.org .
For details visit: http://www.google.com/grants/details.html

The Board Election is Coming, Are You Ready?

NYRA’s annual Board of Directors election is quickly approaching, with the 2010 NYRA annual meeting in Boca Raton, Florida soon to be upon us. More details about the annual meeting will be announced soon, but please start making plans now to attend. The event is your best time to meet fellow NYRA members face-to-face, so come down to Florida on August 7th & 8th. The election starts July 7 and only dues paying members can vote or run for the board. Interested parties should ensure that they fulfill the eligibility requirement, which is paid membership for the year that they intend to serve, which only costs ten dollars.
You can pay your dues here: http://www.youthrights.org/donate.php
Not sure what it means to be a board member? Not sure what it takes? NYRA has a nine person board of directors who are elected each year by the NYRA membership. The board is responsible for attending monthly meetings, setting all official policy for the organization, providing oversight over all campaigns and decisions the organization makes, personally assisting with the organization’s fundraising, and pitching in to help out wherever needed. Candidates should be passionate about youth rights, have time available to commit to the position, and devoted to doing what it takes to help this organization succeed.
To run for the board you must declare your intent to run by June 1. Voting begins July 7 and ends August 7 in Florida. If you would like to run for the Board, all you have to do is send an e-mail stating your intention to do so to nyra@youthrights.org.

NYRA is offering a Grassroots Organizing Fellowship!

NYRA needs a dedicated professional organizer to run our outreach efforts. The successful candidate will participate in a number of professional development opportunities, work closely with NYRA’s executive staff and board of directors, and have real leadership opportunities. Find the job posting here: http://www.idealist.org/if/i/en/av/Internship/153208-95


June 1 – Deadline to Declare Board Candidacy Pay membership dues here: http://www.youthrights.org/donate.php Send an E-Mail to nyra @ youthrights.org if you intend to run
June 7 – Informal Chat 8 pm – 12 am Eastern In the NYRA chatroom on AIM IM SciVille if you need an invite
June 13 – Board of Directors meeting 8 pm Eastern In the NYRA chatroom on AIM IM Alex From NYRA if you need an invite
June 15 – Informal Chat 8 pm – 12 am Eastern In the NYRA chatroom on AIM IM SciVille if you need an invite
June 16 – #16tovote on the 16th All Day Post voting age related tweets on Twitter and include the hashtag #16tovote Info here: http://forums.youthrights.org/showthread.php?20369
July 7 – NYRA Board Election Begins Stay tuned for details on how to vote Only dues paying members can vote, please renew here: http://www.youthrights.org/donate.php
August 7-8 – 2010 NYRA Annual Meeting Boca Raton, Florida Stay tuned for more details on the agenda and location


Thank you NYRA
New Jersey’s Kyleigh’s Law Puts a Bullseye on Youth
Jeffrey Nadel on “Kyleigh’s Law”
What the UK Election Could Mean for Electoral Reform, Youth, and America
Could it be? Is the Westboro Baptist Church attacking NYRA now?
Pure Clean Mouth… or else…
16tovote on the 16th – May 2010


NYRA Related
Politico interview with Alex Koroknay-Palicz of NYRA and Senator Klobuchar
National youth rights group urges NJ drivers to sabotage ‘Kyleigh’s Law’
Youth rights group wants all drivers to use decals to thwart Kyleigh’s Law
New Jersey’s Kyleigh’s Law Puts a Bullseye on Youth
Group: Undermine Kyleigh’s Law by buying unneeded decals
Age requirements for learner’s permits
National Standards Sought for Teen Drivers

Other News
ACLU Pushes Ban on Physical Discipline In Schools
Let teens drink? Parents wrestle with the question
In New Jersey, a Civics Lesson in the Internet Age
China stripped of 2000 gymnastics medal for underage athlete
Supreme Court to hear California game case
Senators: ‘Net privacy law for children in need of overhaul
Indiana district pulls Toni Morrison book from hands of students
School Cuts Gay Student Photo from Yearbook
NJ teens, lawmakers hope to dump driver decal law
Ex-judge pleads guilty in Luzerne ‘kids-for-cash’ scandal
Senate OKs bill on reporting attacks on minors
Federal Court: NJ School Board Can’t Abort Student Pro-life Event
National youth rights group urges NJ drivers to sabotage ‘Kyleigh’s Law’
California kids blasted for wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo
Civil rights icon shares passion with area students
Ballots and beer — at 18?
21 saves lives – lifesaving impact of the minimum drinking age
Social host enforcement a stab in the dark
A social host ordinance
Harvard’s Alcohol Amnesty Policy
New alcohol presentation at freshman orientation a positive approach
Local Mother and Son Start Youth Rights Chapter
Senator wants national standard for teen drivers
Vt. Senate seeks relief from drinking age penalty
Online Chat: Rutland Middle School
Real progress stopping Kyleigh’s Law
Stop ‘Kyleigh’s Law’ – a clear danger to our teens
Few stickers purchased since Kyleigh’s Law took effect Saturday
D.C. group aims to thwart Kyleigh’s Law
‘Kyleigh’s Law’ To Go Into Effect For NJ Drivers
Student walkout meant nothing
California kids blasted for wearing American flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo
Hyundai’s very undue car ads
Under-age boy ‘voted in election’ in Lancashire
New Jersey Middle School Principal Urges Facebook, MySpace Block
Arizona’s New Immigration Law – Necessary or Discriminatory?
Students plan Mount Olive rally against Kyleigh’s Law’
Rachael Ray and Senator Lobby for School Lunch