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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Puerto Rico?

What is Puerto Rico? That's a question more than a few people in the United States seem to ask. This article - State, nation, other: Puerto Rico tries to decide - highlights some of the challenges Puerto Ricans face.

Puerto Rico has been a territory of the United States since 1898 and the Spanish-American War. Puerto Rican government looks familiar in several ways, including:
  • People born in Puerto Rico are US citizens
  • The US President is the head of state in Puerto Rico
  • Congress delegates powers to Puerto Rico
  • Within Puerto Rico, the island is led by a Governor, a Legislative Assembly and a court system (in some ways this is like our state government)
  • At the local level, Puerto Ricans elect mayors to lead cities and towns
While residing in Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans can vote in presidential primaries but not in the general election for president. (Puerto Ricans who become residents of a US state can vote for president.) Puerto Ricans elect and are represented by a non-voting delegate to Congress.

Puerto Ricans have pursued US statehood three times, with residents voting it down each time. According to news reports, the issue may come up again in 2011. The pro-statehood movement, hopes to hold another vote.

Questions to think about
  • Where is Puerto Rico? Is it close to US mainland? Does this matter?
  • If you lived in Puerto Rico, would you be interested in the island becoming a US state? Why or why not?
  • What are some challenges and opportunities Puerto Rico has that are similar or different to North Carolina?
  • If you were a Puerto Rican leader, how would you encourage the residents to support your views about statehood or independence?
  • How would you work with US leaders? Media?
Learn more about Puerto Rico

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where do County Commissioner candidates stand on issues important to young people?

What do candidates for Mecklenburg County Commission At-Large have to say about issues important to children and youth? Watch the interviews, sponsored by WTVI, Piedmont Natural Gas and Kids Voting.

Seven candidates were invited to be interviewed. See how candidates will be accountable to students, what they will do first in office and what they will accomplish by the time their term ends in 2012. And, see which candidate fist-bumps the best!

You can also view and share these videos on our Facebook page.

Harold Cogdell

Dan Murrey

Jennifer Roberts

Jim Pendergraph

Dan Ramirez

Corey Thompson

Monday, October 25, 2010

Read! Think! Decide!

Teaching about the election? There's more to it than voting! Here are a few ways to link the election and civic learning with other subjects:

  • Comprehension
  • Information about candidates and election
  • Ballot instructions
  • Evaluating and thinking about the information
  • Making informed decisions based on information
  • Communicating your position effectively
  • Using media and technology
  • Counting votes
  • Grouping like items and seeing patterns
  • Measuring paper for the voting chains and ballots
  • Calculating percentages of votes or turnout.
Social studies
  • Learning about levels of local, state and national government
  • Participating in democracy
  • Elections and civic participation
  • Examining roles of leaders and citizens
  • Comparing local issues with historic, statewide, national or global issues
Many applications to 21st century learning

Study resources

K-5 Election Information

Grade 6-12 Election Information

Friday, October 22, 2010

Voting early? Take your kids!

Take your kids to vote when you go to vote early.  Kids Voting's longest running program, the Election Experience, is a great opportunity for students age 5-17 to learn about the election process, how to be an informed voter and make decisions. In Kids Voting's election, students vote on real candidates and issues. While the results aren't official, they are counted and reported on Election Night.

Learn more about the candidates, view a sample ballot and more

Kids Voting will have voting stations set up at 12 early voting sites:
  • North County
  • Freedom Regional
  • West Boulevard
  • Sugar Creek
  • University City
  • Mt Island
  • Independence
  • Matthews
  • Morrison
  • South County
  • Steele Creek
  • Hayes Building
Dates and times:
  • Saturday, October 23 10AM-1PM
  • Sunday, October 24 1-4PM
  • Friday, October 29 11AM-7PM
  • Saturday, October 30 10AM-1PM
More opportunities to vote are available online (K-5, 6-12), at school (check with your School Representative to see if your school is voting absentee), and on Election Day, November 2, at 75+ sites across the county 3-7:30PM.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Getting ready to vote

Election time! That means getting ready to vote. How? By studying the candidates and issues.

One way to do this is to read what the candidates have to say, both through interviews and the information posted on their websites. Kids Voting Mecklenburg partners with the League of Women Voters to provide CharMeckVotes, a community resource about the candidates and the offices they seek. There, you can read about the candidates
and link to their websites and Facebook pages, volunteer for campaigns and more.

Another way is to watch
 videos of the candidates in action. We'll post more on that soon.

Teachers can use Kids Voting's classroom resources to help students develop knowledge, strategies and habits needed to be good citizens and leaders. That includes evaluating candidates, understanding government, thinking critically and making decisions. That helps on election day and every day through the year.

Students can study the Kids Voting sample ballot, and even cast a vote online (K-5 6-12).

Through Election Day, students will have the opportunity to cast votes absentee at school (check with your school's Kids Voting Representative), online (K-5 6-12) or in polling places during early voting and on Election Day.

Friday, October 15, 2010

YouthCivics - register now!

Teens: want to learn how local government works? Attend real government meetings? See what kinds of jobs you can get in government and media? Find out where government gets its money, who makes decisions and how citizens make their voices heard?

Register now for Kids Voting's exciting program, YouthCivics. You'll get to go to the Charlotte Observer, courthouse and election office plus visit government meetings of the city council, county commission and school board.

YouthCivics is ideal for 10th grade students in Civics & Economics class as well as all teens with an interest in government, law, civics and/or public service. Community service hours are available for completion of the course and providing feedback.
The class runs once a week November 10-December 14. Space is limited - sign up now!

View more information and register
Download flyer
Contact Kids Voting for information

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What do you know about Chile?


Chile is in South America

Watching the miners being rescued in Chile? This exciting news story provides an interesting way to learn about government globally and locally.

  • The government in Chile has a President, a Congress and a Constitution. Nationally, the government has 3 branches: executive, legislative and judicial. Mayors lead municipalities (cities and towns) at the local level.
  • Chilean government offices and roles have some similar names. Does this mean the governments in Chile and U.S. are the same?
  • What are some similarities and differences between Chilean and American governments?
  • Do people in Chile vote? If so, when did people get the right to vote? Did everybody get to vote? How does this compare with voting in the US?
  • Does government play a role in the rescue of the miners? How?
  • How is the media covering this event? If this dramatic event had taken place 10 years ago, would media coverage have been different? How?

Chile's Flag
  Bonus question: which US state flag looks similar to the Chilean flag?

Learn more about Chile
Read and watch coverage of the Chile Mine Rescue

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to fix our schools: A manifesto

In Sunday's Washington Post, school leaders Joel Klein (New York City Department of Education), Michelle Rhee (District of Columbia Public Schools), Peter Gorman (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) and others write an opinion piece: How to fix our schools: A manifesto. It outlines realities, challenges and opportunities in public education in the United States.

Schools and K-12 education make a good topic for classroom discussion, research and analysis. Use it to highlight different roles of government, the roles of citizens and leaders, the implications of policies and decisions and connections to local, national and global issues. That's civic literacy!

Now, look at how citizens are involved in public education. This is a good opportunity to practice writing and effective communication. Role-play as the head of the school district, a school board member, an elected official of another government in the community, a student, a parent or a teacher.
  • How do citizens make their voices heard at CMS? In NYC Schools? In other cities?
  • Are there places where students are involved in governance? Parents? Teachers?
  • Where do you get news about the school board and school district decisions?
  • If you live in Charlotte and talk with the mayor about CMS, what can he do? How is that different in New York City or DC? If you have a issue to discuss, does it matter who you tell it to? Why?
  • Playing the different roles listed above, what do you think about the Washington Post piece? Do you agree with the authors? Do you have other ideas? What are they, and how do you make your voice heard?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Doing Democracy: How YOUth Can Make a Difference!

High school students from across North Carolina are invited to attend the NC League of Municipalities 6th Annual Youth Summit! Participate in a day of engaging sessions on topics from community service to public speaking. Meet peers from across the state and learn how you can make a difference, regardless of your age. Sessions will include:

Power Trip - Exploring Your Potential for Local Impact Every day, local government touches the lives of young North Carolinians, yet many youth are unaware or uninvolved in the important decisions being made that affect them. In this session, explore the various ways you can be an active participant in your local government. From attending the meetings of your city council, to writing a letter to your school board, there are many ways for you to exercise your power as a community member.

North Carolina Dreamin': Transforming Vision to RealityThink you are too young to make a difference? Convinced you need a ton of money or resources to change your community for the better? Learn about all the ways you can make a positive impact in your community and beyond with simply your creativity and active participation. Hear from North Carolina youth who have made a difference across our state and brainstorm all the ways you can do the same!

Raise Your Voice! Tips for Effective Public Speaking When trying to bring about change in your community, it’s important to convey your message in a clear, concise, and persuasive manner. Learn various tips for ensuring successful communication and presentations. From overcoming nervousness to enhancing body language and eye contact, you’ll leave this session having improved your public speaking skills.

Special Advisor Session: We've Formed a Youth Council! But Now What?
Your heart is in the right place. You care about youth voice, so you’ve started a youth council or youth group. But how will you actually operate? In this session, hear suggestions for organizing your youth into a cohesive, purposeful, and action-oriented group. This session will also introduce participants to grant proposal writing, including the various types of grant funding, where to find funding opportunities, and the primary components of grant proposals.

Release of the results of the NC Civic Health Index

The Youth Summit will be on Saturday, October 23, 2010 at Benton Convention Center, Winston Salem. Presenters include NC Civic Education Consortium and Kids Voting Mecklenburg staff and student leaders.

For more information, click here. For registration details, see page 21 of the NCLM Conference brochure, available on their website at or by clicking here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Kids Voting Mecklenburg at your school

How does Kids Voting Mecklenburg impact your school? Your School Representative manages Kids Voting efforts at your school - don't know who that is? Look up the name here. This teacher or team is nominated by your school's principal each year. These teachers develop and exhibit leadership and incorporate 21st century learning through Kids Voting at your school. This includes responsibilities such as:
  • Communicate and educate teachers, students and parents about Kids Voting K-12 educational resources and learning opportunities
  • Involve the school in Kids Voting programs that support civic literacy
  • Provide feedback, ideas and best practices to move the educational programs forward each year
Talk with your School Representative to learn what's ahead at your school and how you can get involved. Here's a presentation your School Rep might share with teachers at your school.

Connect to us on Facebook

On Facebook? Connect with Kids Voting Mecklenburg and view photos, videos and more. Tell us what you like about Kids Voting's programs and resources, or something you think we should add.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Students question candidates for Mecklenburg County Commission

Tonight, high school students will interview candidates for Mecklenburg County Commission at the annual Kids Voting Candidate Forum for Youth. WTVI will tape the interviews. Kids Voting will share the videos with the media, on the web and with schools. This is a great opportunity to learn more about county government, the candidates and where they stand on issues important to young people.

What does the County Commission do?
There are 9 members of the county commission. Each person is elected for a 2-year term. There are 6 district representatives and 3 at-large commissioners. You can attend the commissioner meetings in person or watch online. If you are on Twitter, follow the #meckbocc hashtag to keep track of county commission news and communicate with county officials.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Autumn leaves: connecting science and civics

Take a look around. It is October, and while the leaves in Charlotte have not started to turn, those changes will be coming soon.

The Charlotte Observer offers a great graphic explaining why leaves change color. This is a good classroom or family discussion and lesson in science - weather, plants, chemistry, biology and more.

Leaves changing color in October and November offer a terrific opportunity for civic learning, too. The Observer graphic includes a map of North Carolina and the progression of leaf color from the mountains to the coast.

Fall foliage is a multi-million dollar natural resource for some communities in our state. Buncombe County, where Asheville is located, expects to welcome 350,000 leaf-watchers with an economic impact of $225 million over the next few weeks. Tourist dollars help local businesses to sell products, food and hotel rooms. The county collects sales tax. This helps to support county-funded services including schools, parks, libraries and social services.

How do leaves turning impact a community? What would you do if you were:
  • Responsible for developing communications to tourists coming to see fall foliage. How do you get your message across?
  • A local government official setting the sales tax rates and budget. What happens in years when the leaf color is better - or worse - than others?
  • A government leader balancing the interests of businesses, residents and tourists. What if a business wants to develop a wooded property that can be seen from the Blue Ridge Parkway? What if a neighborhood street is so busy every October and November that you can't cross it safely?
  • The economic development official in another part of the state. Do you have a natural resource like the trees in the mountains? If not, how do you generate tourism to impact your local economy?
You can connect what you know to global studies, too. Dr. Richard Braham, associate professor of forestry at NC State University’s College of Forest Resources says that many in our state don’t realize that much of the world doesn’t experience this fall color change, Braham said. "Basically, eastern Asia and eastern North America are the only places where there are many species of trees and plants that have the brilliant color changes in the fall," he said. "There’s very little color change in the forests of Europe, for example, and Europeans are normally just astounded when they visit here during our fall color season."