NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229

Scott Davidson and Adam King

Volume 6, Issue 6

June 8, 2006


NYRA Election, Annual Meeting
NYRA Fights Myspace Restrictions
Student Representation, Act III
NYRAthon, Fundraising
NYRA-Vermont Holds “Know Your Rights Day”
Staff Requests
Upcoming Events
News from the Web


By Scott Davidson

May was a mixed blessing. NYRA-Vermont organized a successful event, and the national office attracted a lot of media attention. NYRA-DC had some recent success with fundraising, but our annual fundraiser generally did not go over as well as we had hoped it would. With grant applications pending, we hope that donations from individuals will increase enough that we will have more good news in time for the annual meeting this August. We have many qualified candidates running for the board, and I’m sure that no matter how the election turns out, NYRA will have qualified leadership this August.

NYRA Election, Annual Meeting

By Scott Davidson

Every year NYRA holds an election, where the membership elects the nine board members who are responsible for running NYRA’s national office. This year the election will run from July 5 to August 5, and there are a number of qualified candidates. The candidates so far are Chris Batchelor, Ken Boring, Jess Caralize (incumbent), Scott Davidson (incumbent), Zach Hobesh, Alex Hull-Richter, Rich Jahn, Adam King, Alex Koroknay-Palicz (incumbent), Keith Mandell (incumbent), Katrina Moncure (incumbent), Conor Nugent, Robert Reynolds (incumbent), Chip Sinton, and Pamela Tatz (incumbent).

This election will be the most competitive and interesting in NYRA’s history. Most of these candidates have a great deal of experience in the organization, and all of them have interesting ideas that will improve NYRA’s situation. Last year there were qualified candidates who were not elected, and with such a great list that is likely to happen this year as well. To vote in the election, you must be a dues-paying member. Dues are 10 dollars, and membership must be renewed every year. If you wish to vote or run in this election, and provide a valuable donation that will keep NYRA going, please pay your dues immediately.

The election will end on August 5 at the annual meeting in Berkeley, California. This is the first time NYRA has held its annual meeting on the west coast, and NYRA expects members from across the country to attend this meeting. Members will hear the election results before everyone else, and hear the Executive Director deliver the annual report. Annual meetings are usually a lot of fun, and everyone is invited to participate. If you are interested in attending the annual meeting and you need housing, please contact the Berkeley chapter (www.berkeley.youthrights.org).

NYRA Fights Myspace Restrictions

By Adam King

There is a new bill pending in Congress that would cut government funding to any school or library that permits people under the age of 18 to access social networking websites such as Myspace. In addition, many schools are starting to punish students for pictures on their Myspace accounts.

On May 22, reporters from ABC’s World News Tonight interviewed Alex Koroknay-Palicz, NYRA’s executive director. While the news did not air Koroknay-Palicz’s segment, he was quoted in an online news article. You can read the full article here: http://www.youthrights.org/forums/showthread.php?p=178172#post178172.

A longtime ally of NYRA, Mobilizing America’s Youth (www.mobilize.org/sos) is working with other organizations in the youth rights movement to oppose the House bill that would place prohibitions on Myspace.

In a statement issued on May 18, Koroknay-Palicz said, “The National Youth Rights Association strongly condemns schools that use online information about a student as grounds for punishment… Unless a student’s behavior directly and tangibly disrupts learning at school, it is simply none of the school’s business. Schools are not a massive unrestrained police force for all individuals under 18.”

Student Representation, Act III

By Scott Davidson

Adam King, of Asheville, North Carolina, spoke to the Buncombe County Board of Education about adding a student advisor for the third time on Thursday, June 1, 2006.

Joel Burgess, of the Asheville Citizen-Times, was there covering this story and other stories taking place that night. After King had to sit through a two-hour meeting, he delivered his speech during the public comment session.

When King finished, board members did not have any comment. According to King, the chair simply asked if there were any other comments from the public, and there was not any, so the board adjourned.

After the meeting, King talked with board members Dusty Pless and Richard Greene, two informal supporters of the proposal. They asked him about the organization he is involved with – NYRA, and they told King they wanted to do more research to try to convince other members on the board. They want to develop a consensus before making it an agenda item, but they did say that they do not understand why the other board members are against it.

Burgess wants King to write a 350- to 450-word guest column for Sunday’s education section of the Citizen-Times sometime within the next week or so.

King will not be able to deliver any more presentations until August, the month of the next normal board meeting.

In the meantime, however, King will contact the student councils of the other high schools in the county school district, and gather support from teachers and students from those high schools. If time allows, he may also propose a similar position for the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners this summer. One commissioner, David Gantt, has expressed his desire for a student advisor on the board.

“The school board has an unelected legal advisor who provides his perspective of the law,” King says. “It is time for the board to include a student advisor to provide a perspective of the nearly 26,000 students who are affected every day by the decisions the school board makes. It is time to give this proposal a try.”

NYRAthon, Fundraising

By Scott Davidson and Adam King

There is good news and bad news on the fundraising front. NYRA’s annual fundraising competition, NYRAthon, did not meet expectations, and did not even approach the amount of money raised last year. Despite strong showings from a few core members, individual donations were down. While the fundraiser is pretty much over, you should still donate money to NYRA. This money keeps NYRA’s website up, pays for the cost of printing, and keeps out Executive Director employed full time. Please visit www.youthrights.org/donatel if you feel you can make a donation.

The good news is that NYRA-DC raised well over 300 dollars in one day, simply by standing at an intersection and asking for donations. If this strategy holds up over a long period, we might have another steady source of revenue. NYRA also has two large grant applications pending. While NYRA members should not get their hopes up, it is promising that the foundations looked at NYRA’s letters of intent and invited us to submit full applications.

As of Wednesday, June 7, the following is the results from NYRA’s annual fundraiser:

Individual Competition –

Adam King $380
Keith Mandell $370
Frederick Mutooni $300
Alex Koroknay-Palicz $275
Katrina Moncure $272
Bill B. $250
Stefan Muller $200
Conor Nugent $135
Robert Reynolds $50
Scott Davidson $50

Chapter Competition –

NYRA-DC $310
NYRA-Paterson $300
NYRA-Orange County $30

The first place winner of the individual competition will receive $100, second place will receive $50, and third place will receive $25.

The first place winner of the chapter competition will receive $100 worth of NYRA merchandise: buttons, T-shirts, flyers, etc.

NYRA-Vermont Holds “Know Your Rights Day”

By Scott Davidson

NYRA Vermont, one of NYRA’s most active chapters, held an event called “Know Your Rights Day” on May 16 at the Vermont Commons School in Burlington. The event attracted dozens of students, as well as members of the local press. “Know Your Rights Day” consisted of a series of workshops pertaining to youth and student rights, as well as speeches by several experts on these issues.

Among the speakers were Hardy Machia, the Secretary of NYRA Vermont and the Chairman of the Vermont Libertarian Party; Allen Gilbert, the Executive Director of the Vermont chapter of the ACLU; Frank Bryan, a professor at the University of Vermont; and Matt Brown, a UVM sophomore.

Jay Leff, the president of NYRA-Vermont and a member of the NYRA Board of Directors, was on hand at the event and the local press quoted him extensively. Leff pointed out the importance of understanding your civil rights, and how the schools have failed to teach these rights in any thing but a historical context. The organizers of the event said that they hoped for more faculty involvement and a higher student turnout, but they were generally satisfied with the workshop.

Staff Requests

By Adam King

NYRA is seeking to hire regional captains for chapter formation in the Midwest and Central regions. If you are interested, fill out an application here: http://www.youthrights.org/chapterformation.php or contact Adam King.

Upcoming Events

Youth Rights Chat, June 20, 2006, at 8 p.m. ET, in NYRA’s AIM chatroom

Board Meeting, June 25, 2006, at 7:30 p.m. ET, in NYRA’s AIM chatroom

Chapter Informational Update Meeting, TBA

News From the Web

Detention for a High School Blog Entry?

Freshman fights for representation

The Fine Art of Letting Go

District takes aim at teens’ Web posts

Three dozen students gather for workshops such as Bill of Rights 101


By Adam King

While the NYRAthon is basically over, it is never too late to donate money to your favorite organization fighting for youth rights. If you are short on cash, you can always volunteer a couple of hours a week. We are always needing people to assist with chapter formation or gathering legal information, for instance. With some schools’ latest attacks on students’ Myspace accounts, we need people to spread the word about NYRA and the unfairness of schools punishing students for what they post on their Myspace. To remain successful, we need people like you. We need people who are interested in youth rights and are able to volunteer just a couple of hours a week. Two hours is not a lot, so come on people, help out some.