DemocracyReady NY Youth Blogs

Spring 2024: DemocracyReady NY Youth Members Explore the Role of Tech in Civic Learning

Intersecting Citizenry and Technology

Nobody understands technology and politics like the younger generation. That statement relies on two key factors about Gen Z. The first is that they are not tech savvy, they’re tech native.

The past few years have seen tectonic shifts in arguably the two most important fields for everyday people, politics and technology. Oftentimes, the conversations regarding both areas go hand-in-hand, and you may have seen the following statements (ostensibly) online: 1. Social media is worsening the political divide. 2. Nobody understands politics nowadays. As a high school student who has been working in both fields for some time now, I feel that I have something to bring to the discussion.

Tech-Driven Civics: Preparing Students for the Digital Age of Democracy

Despite technology being integrated into education at a continuously larger scale year after year, there has been little attention given to issues surrounding media literacy, which is the ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create media in various forms.

This past year at the DemocracyReadyNY Coalition, I, alongside my fellow youth cohort members, and other members of the Coalition, have dedicated our efforts to creating a space for dialogue and creative solutions to address the gap at the intersection of media literacy and civic education. Understanding media literacy is crucial for informed and engaged citizenship, making it an essential component of comprehensive civic education.

Staying Present and Aware: The Value of Civic Engagement and Critical Thinking for Teenagers

Being a member of DRNY has shown me that youth voices, opinions, and actions are forces that help bring real change.

When registering for my senior year courses, I enrolled in a class called Civic Engagement because it was an opportunity to create change in my school community and earn the New York State Seal of Civic Readiness The Seal is a way to recognize students’ commitment to creating positive change in their community, and executing this type of project allows young people to gain experience in the world of social justice and political action. There was a project I had envisioned since ninth grade: initiate a composting program in my school’s cafeterias.

Students Deserve To Be Storytellers

Positioning students as storytellers is necessary, not only to better understand student perspectives, but also to more deeply understand the policy issues themselves.

Storytelling can be a fantastic way to facilitate more meaningful and interactive curriculum, particularly in schools. In the civics classroom specifically, storytelling can provide an excellent opportunity to think through civic issues all around us, recognizing how tangible each singular issue is.

Spring 2023: DemocracyReady NY Youth Members Unpack Student Councils in New York State

Prom and Beyond: Reflections on NY's Student Council Bill

Senate Bill S1732 symbolizes historic investment in student leadership across New York State. This is great; however, student leadership must go beyond symbols and tokens.

I am a 2022 graduate of Syracuse City Schools in upstate New York. Throughout my K-12 education, I found the importance of true student voice and advocacy to better the civic climate in a school. Typically these values are assumed to be in high school student council bodies — however, student councils 1) do not exist at every high school, and 2) their scope of work varies drastically.

Empowering Student Voice: Unleashing the Potential of Student Councils in Schools

As a recent graduate from New Rochelle High School, I have had the opportunity to see how a student government that represented over 3,000 students operated first hand.

Student councils have long been recognized as important entities within educational institutions, contributing significantly to the student experience and empowering students to have a voice in school matters. Acknowledging the significance of these bodies, New York Senate Bill S1732 sets out to address a pressing concern: the absence of student governments in schools and districts across the state. This bill will mandate the establishment of student governments in every school in New York. However, we must question whether this requirement alone is sufficient to genuinely represent student voices and grant them meaningful decision-making power in their school settings.

Should All High Schools Have Student Councils?

Are student governments the key to ensuring students’ voices are heard, or are they simply a popularity contest?

In keeping with its title, DemocracyReady NY seeks to foster a representative learning environment across schools in New York State. After organizing the DemcoracyReady NY Civic learning week, I made it clear to my fellow participants that student input was the key to advancing education. Speaking with educators and policymakers about the problems we observed in the educational system helped us gain clarity, or on the other side, provided us with a strategy to attempt to fix it. It only took us, the students, to speak up. Entering into the DemocracyReady NY Youth Ambassador program, the need for student voice was at the forefront of my thoughts.

Student Power Unleashed: NY Senate Bill S1732 Igniting Civic Engagement for a Brighter Future

3 Ways to Enhance NY's Senate Bill S1732 for Stronger Student Engagement

While the bill represents a step in the right direction, its requirement for student governments in schools alone may not be sufficient to amplify student voices. Given the limited number of positions available within the student council, not all students will have the opportunity to actively participate in civic matters, especially in schools with a significant student population. A pertinent example is Francis Lewis High School, which accommodates 4,000 students but only offers 19 spots on the student council. Consequently, it is imperative to consider further enhancements to the bill's recommendations.
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