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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Youth Voice speaks on CMS budget

Students from GenerationNation program Youth Voice Leadership Alliance spoke at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools budget public hearing on March 27, 2012. Instead of lining up to ask for a favorite line item to be increased or prioritized, students asked school board members to focus on students, work together and think about the big picture.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A mayor's welcome

Our Youth Civics class learned about the City of Charlotte and visited the City Council meeting...and got a nice shout-out from the mayor! Thank you, Anthony Foxx!

Wilson Hooper, from the city manager's office, outlined city services and led a discussion about the impact the DNC will have on Charlotte.

Monday, March 19, 2012

What's important to my government?

Ever wonder what's most important to your government? Check out the budget! That's where government officials and policymakers work to establish funding priorities.

What do the governments do? How do I find out about the budget?

City of Charlotte

Towns: Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville

Mecklenburg County

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS)

North Carolina General Assembly

Your turn

Budget process

When do governments make their budgets? For local governments, budgeting is done in the winter and spring. Usually they establish goals and strategies in the winter, and then from there the top administrator (the county, city or town manager or school superintendent) works with staff to develop a recommended budget. The recommended budget is just that - a recommendation based on what the manager, with input from government departments, policymakers and data from goals, past results, community needs and other information. A big factor is how much money is available to spend on budget items.

From there, the elected officials take a look at the budget, discuss it, give the public a chance to weigh in, and discuss it some more. The city, county and town budgets are adopted, or enacted into law, by June 30 of each year.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' budget are handled a little bit the same and a little bit differently, in part because CMS is funded through other governments (as opposed to being able to ask people to pay taxes, like the county, city, state and federal governments do to get money to pay for their government services). The school district staff create a recommended budget. In 2012, this is presented in March. The school board and public have opportunities to weigh in. In April, the school board approves its budget request. Who are they requesting money from? The county and the state. This gets complicated, because the schools have to request money before the county or state decide how much money they can spend, and how much each agency - including the schools - will get.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Students weigh in on government priorities

Students collaborate, and vote by text message, on community priorities

At the March 6 Youth Summit, high school students discussed and weighed in on what they think city, county and CMS government leaders should be prioritizing.

Here's what they had to say:

City of Charlotte
Crime and safety - 57%
Job creation - 25%
Public transportation - 7%
Roads and streets - 4%
Affordable housing - 4%
Streetlights and sidewalks - 4%

Mecklenburg County
Health - 32%
Education - 32%
Libraries - 14%
Poverty reduction - 12%
Parks, recreation and greenways - 10%

County education spending
CMS - 68%
CPCC - 11%
Pre-K - 20%

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (new spending items proposed for CMS budget)
Programs to attract great teachers - 43%
More high school teachers (focus on 9th grade) - 31%
Pay teachers and staff more - 17%
CMS communications (adding multimedia) - 6%
Expand Truancy Court - 3%
Tech facilitators for high schools - 1%

View photos
Learn more about Youth Voice Leadership Alliance

Friday, March 9, 2012

Charlotte Observer - Opinion - March 9, 2012

Without civics, American Idol judges better known than Supreme Court

From Julian Wright, chair of the GenerationNation board of directors and an attorney with Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A

We live in an increasingly divisive and strident political climate. Students are watching. What are they learning?

Studies and surveys tell us that more Americans - and more youth - know less about government and civic life than ever before. Most cannot even name the three branches of federal government, much less say what each branch does. More Americans can name every judge on American Idol than one member of the United States Supreme Court. Fewer still know about their state and local governments or how citizens and leaders work together to create the policies and decisions that affect us every day.

Read more

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Democracy Day

We are excited to announce a partnership between GenerationNation and Rock the Vote to share Democracy Class with educators. Democracy Class is a one-period nonpartisan lesson plan that uses video, issues discussions and a mock election to teach young people the skills to navigate the elections process and register to vote so that they can truly take part in our democracy.

Sign up at and get your FREE toolkit including the lesson plan, video, voter registration forms, pledge to vote cards, buttons, T-shirts, and a banner to make this a day your students won’t forget!

March 23 is Democracy Day. On this day, educators across the country will bring Democracy Class into their classrooms, preparing high school seniors, and eligible juniors, to cast a ballot in their first election this November.

Texting to learn and make your voice heard

GenerationNation is partnering with NPower and ciber to develop programs that incorporate text messaging with civics education, youth leadership and youth voice.

Here's how students used texting to weigh in on city, county and school priorities 
View photos of the Youth Summit

Read more from NPower