== NYRA Freedom ==
Volume 10, Issue 8
August 20, 2010
Editors: Julian Guttierez, Jackie Ferro, Emily Sanders
Publisher: David Moss
== Contents ==
– Schwarzenegger v. Gamers
– Annual Meeting a Great Success
– A New Year and a New Look for NYRA’s Annual Report
– NYRA Announces The First Ever Recipients of The NYRA Awards
– NYRA-SEFL Federal Curfew Lawsuit Suffers Setback
– NYRA Excited About New Relationship with the Department Of Education
– Election Results
– NYRA Blog Updates
– News From the Web
The new year has begun! Right now college students are traveling to their new cities, new dorm rooms and new homes for the next year. High school students are looking over their class schedules for the next year and figuring out who they will be sharing third period with. This is a time of transition for many, and NYRA is no different. Two weeks ago NYRA members from around the country traveled to Washington, DC for our annual meeting. We reflected on the year we just finished and planned ahead for the year to come. Students across the country were sharpening their pencils in preparation while NYRA members met to sharpen their skills in youth rights advocacy. The next year promises to be as exciting and important to the future of youth rights as the year we just finished. But, as NYRA President Jeffrey Nadel says in the annual report, you can only prepare for the future if you understand the past. So all youth rights supporters are strongly urged to read through this year’s annual report and understand 2009-2010.
==Schwarzenegger v. Gamers==
Recently, a law was passed in California that banned the sale of all “violent” video games to individuals younger than 18. Now, the case of whether or not this law is constitutional is going before the United States Supreme Court. This is an important case, for it could end up setting the stage for alterations in how games look, how they are produced and who can play them. This law could be a catalyst that sparks stricter standards across the industry and could alter the First Amendment rights of young people in matters entirely unrelated to violent video games for decades to come.
NYRA is doing all we can to make sure the free speech of youth is protected. We are working with the ACLU and the National Coalition Against Censorship to write an Amicus brief to be submitted to the Supreme Court regarding this issue. Unlike the nine justices hearing this case and most lawyers on either side of the issue, NYRA staff and NYRA members have actually played video games. We are working to channel our combined expertise to help win this case, you can help!
NYRA is seeking testimonies from people who are familiar with video games and can explain their artistic, social and especially political assets. If we can prove that video games contain political speech, we very well may win this case. Please visit our blog, located at http://blog.youthrights.org/2010/08/11/schwarzenegger_v_gamers_help_us_fight_back/, and leave a comment about the value of video games. The Internet is buzzing about NYRA’s campaign, and we’ve already received 93 comments about this. This overwhelming response represents a total of one-third of all comments the NYRA blog has ever received. But we’re not done yet! The more information we have, the better. Let your gamer friends know about us, too! We need to hear your thoughts as well as examples of specific games that are both political and violent. The more you have to say, the better!
==Annual Meeting a Great Success==
On the weekend of August 7th and 8th, NYRA members convened in the nation’s capital of Washington D.C. to attend the 2010 Annual Meeting, which was characterized by numerous presentations from movement activists both in and outside of NYRA, as well as strategic planning among members in attendance, and election of a new Board of Directors (details to follow).
The most significant change in the past year has been the arrival of Development Director Dave Moss, whose presence has doubled the paid workforce of the organization, generating exponential gains in productivity. Dave’s operational expertise and experience were the focus of two presentations he hosted focusing on different aspects of the fundraising process and on working within non-profits. We are all glad to have him on staff and extend our warmest gratitude to him for his contributions to organizational stability and growth.
The audience of the annual meeting was expanded thanks to the blessings of Internet broadcast technology. After years of failed attempts, highly skilled NYRA technical staff (the web savvy folks down in Southeast Florida), were able to set up a live video feed of the proceedings for online viewers, who were also able to instantly post their thoughts in a live chat. The live stream and recorded content were invaluable in expanding the audience beyond the 40 people in Washington, DC to 233 total views online.
Most importantly for the upcoming year, annual meeting attendants set an important fundraising goal of raising a total donation amount of $100,000, doubling last year’s donations of $50,000, that number itself a doubling of the previous year’s benchmark of $25,000. This is an ambitious prospect that will require every ounce of energy and enthusiasm from our grassroots base to achieve, but with the committed efforts of our devoted membership, we have accomplished seemingly impossible tasks in the past.
Thank you to all who attended or viewed the annual meeting, which can only be topped by an even bigger and better event next year. For those of you who missed it, you can still watch the entire meeting online:
==A New Year and a New Look for NYRA’s Annual Report==
This year has been a been one of much progress and growth for NYRA. Our greatest on record. NYRA’s Annual Report was released recently and NYRA members around the country are getting an update on last year’s unprecedented progress. The Report covers all of last year’s campaigns and projects as well as outreach efforts, an operations update and a financial report. Highlighted in the report is NYRA-SEFL’s work against the West Palm Beach curfew law as well as the Zionsville Student Rights Union’s Sleep to Succeed program’s success in starting school later to benefit students.
New developments like National Youth Rights Day, our active opposition this year to attempts to increase restrictions on teen drivers, NYRA’s invitation to submit a paper about lowering the voting age to a book being put together by First Focus, and our record breaking fundraising totals are also featured. In addition to other successes related to the voting age, drinking age, curfews and other issues, the report also mentions some of the organization’s setbacks and other unfortunate events which enforced ageism, such as the American territory of Guam raising the drinking age to 21. Despite these disadvantages, though, 2009-2010 was the most explosive, high energy and accomplished year this organization has ever experienced.
There are many things that set us apart as an organization: we are one of the youngest non-profits in the country, we are pound-for-pound one of the most effective organizations in the country and we are also one of the most open and transparent non-profits in the country. Our annual report has detailed program and finance information you won’t find in any other organization’s annual report. It is definitely worth reading. Download the annual report here:
==NYRA Announces First Ever NYRA Award Recipients==
NYRA is pleased to announce the winners of our first annual NYRA Awards. This year we gave three separate awards: The Youth Rights Progress Award, The NYRA Achievement Award, and the Ageist of the Year Award. To learn about all the nominees visit: www.youthrights.org/awards .
The Youth Rights Progress Award was given to Congressman George Miller, for sponsoring and passing H.R. 911 to curb the use of torture in “behavior modification” schools, and H.R. 4247 to prevent harmful restraint and seclusion in schools. These two bills will save thousands of children from abuse each year by protecting their fundamental rights. NYRA has been in touch with the Congressman’s Office who were pleased to learn of the victory. We hope to formally present the award soon. The NYRA Achievement Award was given to NYRA-Southeast Florida, for suing the city of West Palm Beach to overturn an unconstitutional curfew law. NYRA-SEFL, led by chapter president and NYRA’s national president Jeffrey Nadel, effectively organized opposition to the curfew law and filed suit only when all amicable options were exhausted.
Finally, the Ageist of the Year Award was given to Pennsylvania’s Lower Merion School District, for using tracking software and built-in webcams to spy on students using school-issued laptops. Hundreds of students were clandestinely recorded or photographed by the school while at home and in private. The Lower Merion School District lied to students and families about this capability while distributing over 2,000 laptops, initially even after being caught. Only when pictures of students’ homes and stories about amused school administrators began to surface was the school district sued for unprecedented violations of wiretapping and computer fraud laws. Officials from the district declined to speak with us. NYRA was disturbed to learn, after awarding this award that federal prosecutors have refused to bring charges fearing a disruption to the school year. For more on that check out the news section below.
==NYRA-SEFL Federal Curfew Lawsuit Suffers Setback==
In June of 2009, NYRA-SEFL filed a landmark case against the town of West Palm Beach and their youth curfew law. Members of NYRA-SEFL felt the law violated both state and federal statutes so two lawsuits were filed in both state and federal court. The State case is still alive and kicking and the next hearing has been set for today August 20, 2010. The federal case however has suffered a minor setback. The judge dismissed the case feeling that the complaintants had merely proven a desire to go to West Palm Beach and not the actual intention to go there. The complaint was dismissed “without prejudice” and the chapter fully intends to refile, with the proper wording. It may take a little longer, but NYRA-SEFL is confident that this case will be won and the curfew will be lifted.
To learn more about Curfews and why NYRA opposes them check out our curfew page:
==NYRA Excited About New Relationship with the Department Of Education==
Previously, our relationship with the Department of Education had been limited to us filing complaints against them. After hearing about the Department’s plans for a national listening tour wherein they would be collecting student feedback about education reform NYRA rose to the challenge. NYRA’s staff and board members Usiel Phoenix and Nigel Jones have had numerous meetings with the Department’s community outreach staff. Amongst the topics discussed were: ending corporal punishment, improving student choice and options, and allowing for more advanced study in lower grades. Also discussed was the current emphasis on testing, zero tolerance, and efforts to curtail childhood obesity. The department’s listening tour will take place during the upcoming school year and will visit cities around the country. If you’re a public school student, or a person of student age and wish to share your opinions with the U.S. Department of Education we’d love to help you to do that. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NYRA is pleased to announce the results of this year’s Board Election. Our congratulations to everyone who ran. This was one of the strongest candidate fields in history.
The 2010-2011 National Youth Rights Association Board of Directors
Jackie Ferro, NYRA-Nanuet: Teen Suffrage Organization
Jenny Harkin, U.S. Department of State
Nigel Jones, Chamblee High School, NYRA-DC
Alex Koroknay-Palicz, NYRA
Hal Levy, Montgomery College, NYRA-DC
Keith Mandell, Schuyler, Roche & Crisham, P.C.
Katrina Moncure, NYRA-DC
Jeffrey Nadel, St. Andrew’s School, NYRA-SEFL
Usiel Phoenix, New York University
*Affiliations listed for identification purposes only.
== Calendar ==
Board Meeting – TBA
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
September 6 – Informal Chat
8 pm – 12 am Eastern
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
IM Alex From NYRA if you need an invite
September 21 – Informal Chat
8 pm – 12 am Eastern
In the NYRA chatroom on AIM
IM SciVille if you need an invite
== Blog ==
Voting Age May Be Lowered to 16 in Finland
Annual Meeting a Great Success
Last Day At NYRA
Schwarzenegger V. Gamers – Help Us Fight Back
#16tovote – August 2010
Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling
Reforming the Youth Advisory Council Testimony
== News ==
Political Speech in Video Games
To paddle or not to paddle
Feds: No charges in Philadelphia school laptop-spying case
Coalition 389 Forms To Repeal Drinking Age Law
Boy broke curfew for ill mother
Underage drinkers are getting younger
Taking Aim at Teen Drivers
Allow drinking at 18 if there’s no driving
Aspiring politician campaigns for voting age to be lowered to 16
Why are kids roaming late at night?
Lower the voting age to 10
Couger: Drinking laws actually create more dangers
Our regulation addiction
Basu: 2 drink, 1 dies, who’s to blame?
Why Dalton McGuinty misses target with drinking-driving law
Police round up 22 teens on first night of Dallas curfew crackdown
Seven of 10 teenagers involved in breaking curfew, vandalizing city of Leslie diving pool speak make apologies at city council meeting
Dallas Police Nab Teens Breaking City’s Curfew
Google’s Student Voice will track teenage vote
Colleges Haven’t Widely Adopted Strategies to Control Drinking, Study Finds
Kassie – I wish I were OLDER
New plan for curfew in Reynoldsburg likely will wait
Lowering the legal drinking age in America
After Midnight, Teen Crime Howls in Dallas
Task force: No curfew necessary
Could A Curfew Return?