Find our new content and programs at www.generationnation.org

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Youth Civics: Registration opens February 1



Taking Civics? Interested in politics, law or service? Want to know how to make a difference on decisions that impact you?

GenerationNation's exciting program, YouthCivics, will have its next session in March and April. Registration begins February 1. Participants attend real government meetings, see the courthouse and meet a judge, find out who the leaders are, where government gets (and spends) its money, explore careers and more.

YouthCivics is ideal for students in Civics & Economics class and others with an interest in government, politics, law and service. The course takes place one evening a week in March and April (does not meet during Spring Break). Sessions will be held at government buildings in downtown Charlotte. Community service hours are available for completing the course, participating in discussions about community issues, and providing important feedback.

Pre-registration is required. Space is limited - sign up now! There is a one time $25 fee, which includes dinner, handouts and other materials. Scholarships are available. Schedule, session location and directions and other information will be provided after you register.

To register and ask questions, contact info@kidsvoting.org or 704-343-6999. To register, send your name, school, phone number and email address.Put Youth Civics in the subject line or note it somewhere else in the email. (We are also registering students for other programs at the same time.)


 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kids Voting Mecklenburg changes name to GenerationNation




Kids Voting Mecklenburg changes name to GenerationNation

Kids Voting Mecklenburg, the Charlotte area’s K-12 civics education organization for 20 years, has changed its name to GenerationNation, a reflection of the group’s broad scope of work and vision to expand students’ understanding and interest in government, leadership and community affairs through civics education, civic learning opportunities and civic leadership training.

The selection of GenerationNation follows several years of research, planning, and feedback from hundreds of students, teachers, parents and civic leaders.

“As we began to think about all we have accomplished in our first 20 years, we determined that this was an ideal opportunity for us to look at all aspects of our organization, including our identity, and make some changes to better reflect the services we provide to our students and the entire Charlotte-Mecklenburg community,” said Julian H. Wright Jr., chairman of the GenerationNation board of directors and a partner with Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson. “GenerationNation recognizes the broad range of civic education, civic leadership and civic engagement opportunities we provide to K-12 students. Our work extends well beyond mock votes held once a year.”

Launched in 1992 by former Charlotte Observer publisher Rolfe Neill, with other civic leaders, Kids Voting Mecklenburg was initially a way to help students participate in annual mock voting events. Today, the organization connects classroom education with civic learning opportunities to help K-12 students in school, build their civic literacy and develop as effective citizens and leaders.

The change comes at a time when the call for renewed civics education is being stressed at the national level. Last week, at an event launching a national conversation about civics education, U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan reinforced the importance of educating students to lead in their schools, communities and nation.

"Today's students are tomorrow's leaders, and giving them a strong foundation in civic values is critical to the vitality of America's democracy and economy in the 21st century," Duncan said. “This call to action is an opportunity to develop and improve civic learning as part of a well-rounded education so every student has a sense of citizenship.”

As a 20-year partner of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and non-public schools in the community, Kids Voting Mecklenburg – now GenerationNation – plays an essential role in building civic literacy, student achievement and leadership from an early age. Civics and history are public school graduation requirements, with civic knowledge woven throughout the K-12 curriculum in social studies, language arts and other subjects.

GenerationNation, a nonpartisan non-profit (501c3) organization, is the home for the programs the community has helped to make a success including the highly successful Kids Voting Mecklenburg election, YouthCivics, Youth Voice Leadership Alliance, K-12 civics and leadership education and a host of civic learning opportunities. Initiatives for 2012 include expansion of youth civic leadership programming, educational opportunities linked to the 2012 conventions, and the use of technology to educate and engage students on leadership, government and civic issues.

“The name GenerationNation truly captures how today’s students want to be more engaged in their schools and communities, and how we can help them develop as leaders who are well on their way to making our community and nation a better place,” Wright said. “Students need to understand how their governments and communities work, and want to know their voice matters, will be heard, and that their opinions can have an effect on the policies, decisions and pressing issues of the day.” 

For more information about programs, volunteer opportunities and ways to support K-12 civic education and leadership, visit GenerationNation on the web at http://www.generationnation.org/ or contact Executive Director Amy Farrell at 704-343-6999 or info@generationnation.org.


Media contacts:

Michael Henry, Wray Ward
704-926-1364

Amy Farrell, GenerationNation
704-343-6999
# # #

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

State of the Union

President Obama delivers the State of the Union address in 2011

K-12 Civic Learning Opportunity: The State of the Union

The State of the Union address will be January 24, 2012 at 9:00 PM. It will be televised on major networks and news channels. The text is usually printed the next morning in the newspaper, and the video available online. GenerationNation will post the text and video on its Civic Learning Center, http://www.kidsvotingcharlotte.org/ (also accessible from the main website http://www.generationnation.org/).
[Video and text links will be posted in the Learn More section, below]

Watch how the White House prepares - a view behind the scenes


The address is held at the US Capitol, in Washington, DC. It happens each January, after each year of the President’s 4-year term begins on January 20. It is an annual address presented before a joint session of Congress and held in the House of Representatives Chamber at the U.S. Capitol. The address reports on the nation, and allows the President to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities to Congress and the American public.

Who attends?

Three branches of the federal government: Executive (President and Cabinet), Legislative (Congress) and Judicial (Supreme Court). At least one important official is selected to not attend. This is so that someone is available in the event something bad happens to the many important leaders who will be meeting in one location.

First Lady and Special Guests: often, the President will invite guests who have been newsworthy or who represent a topic he will address. For example, if he plans to talk about education he may invite a teacher. The guests sit in the balcony with the First Lady.

What is discussed?

The President may cover a variety of topics such as:
  • Afterschool Programs
  • Children/ Youth
  • Cities
  • College
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Global issues
  • Government
  • Graduation rate
  • Health
  • Housing
  • Jobs
  • Justice
  • K-12 Education
  • Leadership
  • Military
  • NASA
  • Political parties
  • Research
  • Safety
  • Taxes
  • Technology
  • Terrorism
  • Working together

Learning opportunity

The State of the Union is a great civic learning opportunity. Students watch or read the State of the Union address and think critically about the speech, its content, how it is communicated and how it is reported.

Fun, educational activities are available from GenerationNation. Teachers and parents can modify based on grade level or subject area. For example, focus students on the community, North Carolina, the United States or another country. Connect this to history, literature or in a global community. Write a headline and compare the headlines from different news sources. Evaluate the President's communication skills.

Students may watch the State of the Union live, watch it in class or read the text. There are many opportunities for writing, reading, small group discussion and oral presentation. The activity aligns with several core standards.

 Skills include:

  • Persuasion
  • Critical thinking
  • Analysis
  • Reading
  • Active listeninge
  • Writing
  • Civic literacy
  • Media literacy
  • Collaboration
  • Civic leadership
  • Local and State Government
  • Federal Government
  • Effective communication
  • Family dialogue
  • Group discussion
  • Connecting historic events, personal knowledge, current events or global life

Learn more

Download State of the Union Activities from GenerationNation http://bit.ly/GN_SOTU12 Includes predicting and evaluating the topics, connecting to government, writing and analyzing news headlines, active listening, communications skills and more

2012 State of the Union Address interaction, text and video http://www.whitehouse.gov/state-of-the-union-2012


Text of 2011 State of the Union Address http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/25/remarks-president-state-union-address

Video of 2011 State of the Union Address
http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2011/01/25/2011-state-union-address-enhanced-version
YouTube version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZdEmjtF6HE

Text of Opposition Response  http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/25/official-gop-state-of-the-union-response-by-rep-paul-ryan/
Video of Opposition Response  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5CcdffQ0Ic


The American Presidency Project http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ History of State of the Union Address, copies of speeches, lists of guests, opposition responses and more

Factcheck.org http://www.factcheck.org/ Check out the facts from the State of the Union address and the Opposition Response

CSPAN http://www.cspan.org/ Videos and news from a variety of sources

News media (variety of sources - access links for news headline activity on Activity  page)

New York Times Learning - Students, write your response http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/24/whats-your-response-to-obamas-third-state-of-the-union-address/


View or download K-12 activities below or here:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Do you have a dream, too?




LINK FOR 2013 UPDATED VERSION

Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) worked to advance civil rights in the United States and around the world. A minister, King became a civil rights activist at an early age. At the 1963 March on Washington, King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, where he outlined his vision, or dream, for our country. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial inequality.

That was MLK's dream. What's yours? Here's an easy and meaningful activity for school or home - a great opportunity for students to envision their “dreams”, think about what makes their dreams a reality, and share this information with others.

Modify this activity based on your grade level or subject area. For example, you can focus students on the community, North Carolina, the United States or another country. They might role-play a character in history, literature or in a global community.

Students of all ages can write about their dream, work in small groups or share with the class. The activity aligns with several core standards.
  • Skills include: Persuasion, Critical thinking, Analysis, Reading, Active listening, Writing, Civic literacy, Planning, Collaboration, Civic leadership, Effective communication, Government and Connecting historic events, personal knowledge, current events or global life

Do you have a dream?

  1. What does it mean to have a vision, idea, or dream for your country? Can you have a dream for your neighborhood? School? City? State? World?
  2. Think of something that is important to you. Here are some general topics: Animals, Schools, Sports, The environment, Safety, Jobs, Families, Health
  3. Now, think a little harder. What do you see that needs to change about your topic (animals, schools, the environment, etc.)?  An example might be that you dream of more trees in Charlotte so that children have air to breathe and birds have places to live. Or, you might want more teachers and textbooks at your school, so you can learn more.
  4. Are there examples of other people who have been working to make a similar dream come true? How did they do it? Did that make them a leader?
  5. Who do you need to talk to, or influence, to make your dream happen? Make a list. It could include community leaders, kids, adults, teachers, parents, school principals, the mayor, school board, city government, state government, news media, President, global leaders or others. As appropriate to the grade level, be specific about the levels of government and your topic area.
  6. How will you communicate your dream? How will their support make a difference?
  7. How long will it take for your dream to become real? Outline the general steps it will take.  Sometimes it is helpful to start at the end and work backwards.
  8. Now, think again about your dream – what’s the first step you can take to make it happen? Do it!
Web resources

Monday, January 9, 2012

January Primaries

From Frontloading.blogspot.com


Now that the Iowa Caucus is over, we're on to the presidential primaries! In January, there will be 3 major primaries:
  • January 10 - New Hampshire
  • January 21 - South Carolina
  • January 31 - Florida
These are Republican primaries, important because several presidential candidates are competing for their party's nomination. (Unlike Democratic primaries, where Barack Obama faces no opposition.)

What's a primary?

A primary is the process a political party uses to select its nominee. Primary elections are held, where registered voters select their favorite choices for each office. Some states have a special primary where only the presidential race is on the ballot, and then have a later primary for local and state offices. Other states, such as North Carolina, have one primary election for national, state and local offices.

In a primary election, voters go to voting sites (also called precincts or polling places). These sites are determined by government offices that manage the elections process. (In North Carolina this office is called the Board of Elections.)

The purpose of the primary is not to elect the person who will take office. Instead, voters decide which candidate will represent a political party. That person will run against the opposing political party's candidate in the general election. This year's general election is Tuesday, November 6.

After the voters make their decisions, the votes are counted and reported to the public. Many people work together to make sure that elections are fair and legal.

In a national election, different candidates may win in different states.  This process is a little different than it is for a local or state office. For the national presidential election, each state holds a primary. After the primary, a state political party chooses its delegates, or party representatives, for the national political convention. In some states, the winner of the primary wins all of the delegates. In others, the representatives are assigned based on the percentage of votes a candidate won.

The Republican presidential convention will be held in Tampa, Florida in August 2012. The Democratic National Convention will be held here - in Charlotte, North Carolina! - in September 2012. We'll learn more about the convention throughout the year.


Why do states want to have the first primaries?

The earlier primaries often receive a lot of national attention because they are the first chance to see which candidates have widespread support, and which do not. If a candidate can show solid support in the early primaries, this helps with fundraising, endorsements and gaining voters in other states.

Learning opportunity

Read about and watch the news coverage of the January primaries. Some things to watch, think and talk about:

  • Which candidates are campaigning in NH, SC and Florida? Why might a candidate decide to spend more, or less, time in one state vs another?
  • How much money have the candidates spent to campaign? Does the amount of money relate to the candidate's popularity? What does a candidate need money to do?
  • What are the benefits of having an early primary? What are the disadvantages? Are the advantages and disadvantages different for different groups of people - for example, for the candidates? the voters? the media? the states where primaries are held?
  • Why is the New Hampshire primary the first in the country?
  • Which issues are important to NH, SC and Florida voters? Are they the same issues that are important to voters in NC and other parts of the country? Why or why not?
  • Who are the candidates in each election? Where do they stand on issues that matter to you?
  • In your opinion, which candidate will win/lose the January primaries? Why?
  • What kinds of impacts do the elections have on the local and state governments? For example, if the candidates and media spend several weeks or months in New Hampshire or South Carolina, do they spend money in cities and towns? Do they buy campaign ads? Do they employ local residents?
  • If you were creating an ad about one of the candidates, what would it say? Which qualities or positions do you think are most important to emphasize?
  • If you were a candidate's campaign advisor, what advice would you give him/her about speaking to voters? What kinds of skills and attitudes do the candidates need to have to be persuasive, confident, a good communicator, etc.?
  • How does the media cover the candidates and the primaries? Does each media organization report the same story the same way? Why or why not? 
  • If you were a voting in this election, how would you prepare to vote?
  • Predict the headlines immediately before, and after, each primary. Follow the media coverage...were you right?
  • Does the foreign press cover this story? How is the perspective the same, or different?
  • How many times in prior elections has the winner of the January primaries been the candidate who the party nominated at the national convention? Won the presidential election?


Learn more


Presidential Primary Calendar http://frontloading.blogspot.com/p/2012-presidential-primary-calendar.html


State of New Hampshire http://www.nh.gov/
New Hampshire Republican Party http://www.nhgop.org/
State of South Carolina http://sc.gov/Pages/default.aspx

South Carolina Republican Party www.scgop.com/
State of Florida http://www.myflorida.com/
Florida Republican Party http://rpof.org/

FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org/
CSPAN http://www.c-span.org/
CNN http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2012/
FOX News  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/index.html
BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15949569
New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/pages/politics/index.html
Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/public/page/news-politics-campaign.html

Current Presidential Primary Candidates (GOP)
Newt Gingrich www.newt.org
Ron Paul www.ronpaul2012.com
Mitt Romney www.mittromney.com
Rick Santorum www.ricksantorum.com



Social media - Election 2012 on Storify http://storify.com/topics/2012-election

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Youth Voice Leadership Alliance

Talking about tests and teacher performance with CMS leaders


High school students are invited to participate in Youth Voice - Leadership Alliance.

This is YOUR CHANCE to get involved in the issues, policies and decisions that impact children and youth in our community.
  • Students meet to identify and discuss school and community issues, and have meetings and forums with government leaders.
  • The youth civic leadership program is a great opportunity for student leaders, and emerging leaders.
  • Network, learn about government and leadership, and make your voice heard on policies and decisions impacting our schools and community. 

***PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND CIVIC LEADERS: You are invited, too! Youth Voice Leadership Alliance wants to partner with you in solving school, community and other government issues impacting children and youth. We're already working with many of you. Contact us to learn more, and connect with Youth Voice on Facebook.***

Who's involved?

All high school students are invited to participate. Represent your school, your youth program or yourself!

  • 2011-12 student leaders are Jalen Feaster (Mallard Creek) and Aidan McConnell (Providence).
  • Leaders from the city, county, CMS and around the community partner with students and GenerationNation to help youth make a difference in our community.
  • Youth Voice is a program of GenerationNation (formerly known as Kids Voting Mecklenburg), a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that educates K-12 students about government, civic participation and leadership through classroom activities and community learning opportunities. All schools and youth programs are invited to get involved.
  • In the news:

When and where?

  • The group meets 2-3 times a month, usually on Tuesday evenings (some meetings with officials on different dates) at the Government Center (600 E 4th Street, 28202).
  •  You can start anytime in the year - it is OK if you did not attend in the fall!

Get involved!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Iowa Caucus

 
Map Courtesy of Digital-Topo-Maps.com 


Though we've been learning a lot about the candidates through debates, interviews and other activities throughout 2011, Election 2012 really begins on January 3rd - the Iowa Caucus.

What's a caucus?

A caucus is one way a political party selects its nominee. Registered voters attend meetings held in locations across the state. Candidates are allowed to make a short speech to encourage people to vote for them. Since the caucus meetings are held at the same time, candidates can't attend each one. They are allowed to have someone else speak on their behalf.

After the voters assemble, get organized and hear from the candidates, it is time to vote by secret ballot. It is a straw poll, meaning the results are not official or subject to the rules of official elections. However, the votes are counted and reported. Each caucus location selects a winner. The results of each caucus in a county are combined at a county convention. County delegates go to the state convention on behalf of the candidates who won in their counties. Eventually, a final candidate is nominated at the state convention, which then determines the delegates for the national convention some time later.

This is different than a political primary, the form of election conducted in most states. In a primary, voters in a a political party cast ballots to determine their party's nominee for elected office. More on primaries soon.


Why is the Iowa Caucus a big deal?

One of the reasons the Iowa Caucus receives a lot of national attention is that it is the first major activity in the presidential election year. Sometimes it helps to make clear which candidates have widespread support, and which do not.

Both parties hold a poll to determine their nominees. In 2012, several Republican candidates are running for office and will participate in the Republican poll. On the Democratic side, President Obama does not face a challenger so a primary is not necessary.

Learning opportunity

Read about and watch the news coverage of the Iowa Caucus. Some things to watch, think and talk about:
  • Which candidates are campaigning in Iowa? Why might a candidate decide to spend more, or less, time in the state?
  • How much money have the candidates spent to campaign? Does the amount of money relate to the candidate's popularity? What does a candidate need money to do?
  • What are the benefits of having a caucus, where the voters can hear directly from the candidates or their campaigns immediately before voting? What are the disadvantages?
  • Where is Iowa located?
  • Why is the Iowa election the first in the country?
  • Which issues are important to Iowa voters? Are they the same issues that are important to voters in NC and other parts of the country? Why or why not?
  • In your opinion, which candidate will win/lose the Iowa Caucus? Why?
  • What kinds of impacts do the elections have on the local and state governments? For example, if the candidates and media spend several weeks or months in Iowa, do they spend money in cities and towns? Do they buy campaign ads? Do they employ local residents?
  • If you were creating an ad about one of the candidates, what would it say? Which qualities or positions do you think are most important to emphasize?
  • If you were a candidate's campaign advisor, what advice would you give him/her about speaking to voters? What kinds of skills and attitudes do the candidates need to have to be persuasive, confident, a good communicator, etc.?
  • How does the media cover the candidates and the Iowa Caucus? Does each media organization report the same story the same way? Why or why not? 
  • If you were a voting in this election, how would you prepare to vote?
  • Predict the headlines on January 4. Follow the media coverage...were you right?
  • Does the foreign press cover this story? How is the perspective the same, or different?
  • How many times in prior elections has the winner of the Iowa Caucus been the candidate who the party nominated at the national convention? Won the presidential election?


Learn more

Iowa Republican Party http://iowagop.org/
Iowa Democratic Party http://www.iowademocrats.org/
FactCheck.org http://www.factcheck.org/
Presidential Primary Calendar http://frontloading.blogspot.com/p/2012-presidential-primary-calendar.html
CSPAN http://www.c-span.org/
CNN http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2012/
FOX News  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/index.html
BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15949569
New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/pages/politics/index.html
Wall Street Journal http://online.wsj.com/public/page/news-politics-campaign.html
Des Moines Register http://www.desmoinesregister.com/