Graham Center Event: Making Elections Work in the Sunshine State and Beyond

On August 1st, the Graham Center at the University of Florida will be hosting an incredibly relevant event in this election season, Making Elections Work in the Sunshine State and Beyond. You can RSVP to the event here.  From the event announcement:

This one-day, all-day event, taking place on August 1, will highlight the advances Florida and the nation have made in administering elections since the 2000 election. Planned participants include co-chairs of the President’s Commission on Election Administration; U.S. Election Assistance Commission commissioners; election administrators from Florida and other states (including current Secretaries of State); prominent scholars at the University of Florida and other institutions; campaign consultants; and members of the media.

The event is sponsored by the Department of Political Science at the University of Florida, the Informatics Institute, the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service. You can RSVP to the event here.  The event will be streamed live on the Bob Graham Center for Public Service’s website at www.bobgrahamcenter.ufl.edu.

Program

8:30 a.m. – Breakfast

9 a.m. – Welcome

9:15 a.m. – Panel 1: State of Florida and the Nation since 2000

10:30 a.m. – Break

10:45 am  – Panel 2: Election Technology

12 p.m. – Lunch & Mock Election

1:30 p.m. – Panel 3: Voter Registration

2:45 p.m. – Break

3 p.m. – Panel 4: On the Lookout for Litigation

4:15 p.m. –  Closing

5 p.m. – Reception

This looks to be an excellent and engaging discussion of the last decade and a half of Florida and national electoral history. The Graham Center always hosts excellent events, and this will definitely be worth your time. Our own Dr. Terri Fine, an expert herself on electoral politics, will be in attendance.

You can RSVP to the event here.  The event will be streamed live on the Bob Graham Center for Public Service’s website at www.bobgrahamcenter.ufl.edu.

 


Everyday Democracy Grant Opportunity!!

Everyday Democracy is an organization that seeks to involve all citizens as change agents in their communities. Every citizen, no matter who they are, should have the opportunity to make a different in their community. To help in that work, Everyday Democracy has established a new and exciting grant opportunity! Take a look below, and please be sure to visit the grants page to apply for the support!

The next generation of leaders engaging people in creating positive change has already made waves in communities across the country.  Our goal is to attract 20-40 of those young leaders to take part in learning and networking at our upcoming national convening. Participants will learn, connect, and share their insights with changemakers of all ages.

Several young leaders will be awarded scholarships to enable them to attend the convening, and will have the opportunity to compete for grant money to support their leadership and organizing efforts in their local communities.

What we hope to accomplish:

Highlight the work of young leaders at our national convening

Provide opportunities for learning and networking among young leaders

Provide support for the critical work being done by young leaders across the country

Build our network among the next generation of changemakers

What is the grant competition?

Young leaders (ages 18-30) will have the chance to compete to win one of four all-expense paid scholarships to Everyday Democracy’s national convening in Baltimore, Md., December 8-10, 2016. The four finalists will present their work at the conference and compete for grants to support their work in their local communities.

By participating in this grant competition, young leaders will gain access to our tools, resources and coaching, as well as a national spotlight for the work they are doing.

How do I apply?

If you are interested in participating, send us a completed Intent to Apply form. We will follow up with you by providing the application guidelines and other details.

Through the application process, applicants will submit information telling us who they are, the work they are doing and what impact the convening and grant could have on their work.

The application process will likely include an essay and/or video submission. Submissions will be judged based on a demonstration of a commitment to the values of racial equity and inclusive community-building that Everyday Democracy champions. The submission details are still being determined. Those who submit an Intent to Apply will be the first to hear details on how to submit an application for the grant.

Who is eligible to apply?

Anyone from the U.S. who will be between the ages of 18-30 on December 1, 2016 who is doing great work to change their communities. Everyone who applies must be available and able to travel to the conference December 8-10, 2016 in Baltimore, Md.

You can download the Intent to Apply form here!


Citrus Ridge: A New PUBLIC SCHOOL Civics Academy in Florida

Over the past few months, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship has worked with teachers, administrators, and district leaders in Polk County to help with the creation of a brand new public school, one dedicated to K-8 civic education: Citrus Ridge.

citrus ridge logo

Breaking Ground

 

Citrus Ridge, created with the support of local Congressman Dennis Ross, is a K-8 institution that will embed civic learning and civic life throughout school governance, relationships, and curriculum.

civics ridge

Citrus Ridge’s very mission statement is centered around civics and the importance of civic life:

  • Community
  • Inclusion
  • Variety
  • Innovation
  • Collaboration
  • Success

Discussing CIVICS

Our own Valerie McVey and Peggy Renihan, as well as our Teacher Practioners in Residence, have been heavily involved in the planning and work with Citrus Ridge. Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the first leadership team meeting for the school, and it was a great joy to see these teachers and administrators hard at work in learning about and understanding how the emphasis on civic life makes Citrus Ridge a unique public school.

First Steps

A heavy emphasis was placed on ensuring that school culture reflects that civic engagement and civic learning.

school culture

T.U.D.E aligns well with both the C3 Framework and with the Six Proven Practices of Civic Education, both of which will play a role in the curriculum and instruction of the school.

So what exactly is T.U.D.E? These principles draw on a number of sources for inspiration: the state of Florida’s civics benchmarks, the C3 Framework, the Six Proven Practices, and others. Take a look at them below. How do you see them reflecting the importance of civic knowledge, civic skills, and civic dispositions?

TUDE

Most excitingly, we are in the process of finding ways to integrate the concept of action civics into the school and curriculum. It will involve students in addressing problems within their school and community, developing the skills of citizenship such as collaboration, critical thinking, deliberation, and discussion, and encourage students to ‘live’ their citizenship. Some examples are: providing towels for an animal shelter, discussing more recess time versus special area versus free choice, deliberating the school dress code, and thinking critically about the causes and effects of current event that effects our community, state, or nation. Indeed, our new action civics coordinator (reviewing applications now!) will spend a great deal of time at Citrus Ridge as we start to launch this school into the civic stratosphere.

There is so much more to say and do concerning Citrus Ridge: A Civics Academy. We will keep you updated as we get closer to the start of the year and into the new school year. FJCC is excited and grateful for the opportunity to work with some excellent people on this, and let me just thank all of the team that has worked so hard to get this off of the ground. It is a great step forward for civic education in Florida and, we hope, it will be a model for this state and the nation!


Teaching Controversial Topics Webinar

webinar tci

 

The Teaching for Democracy Alliance, a worthwhile organization if there was one, is sponsoring and hosting a webinar on Tuesday, April 26th at 7pm featuring  iCivics, NCSS, CloseUp and the League of Women Voters, as well as nationally-recognized researcher Paula McAvoy. I have had the pleasure of attending a session with Dr. McAvoy on teaching controversial topics, and it is well worth your time. I encourage everyone to attend this webinar, especially since this election season continues to heat up. It is an interesting commnetary on our times that teaching about elections can be controversial; this webinar can help you understand how to approach this and other controversial topics. You can register for the webinar here. Hope to see you there!


The Role of Instruction in Encouraging Civic Engagement

The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is quite proud to be a member of Florida’s Partnership for Civic Learning. One of the most promising research projects that the Partnership has undertaken is to explore the role of classroom experience in student civic participation. In other words, are students more likely to engage in civic life if they learn about civics in a classroom with a variety of instructional practices? This is a question that we believe deserves an answer, as it can help districts, schools, teachers, and other stakeholders what quality civics instruction should look like. And it is such an important one for Florida and the nation.

In the spring of 2015, the Lou Frey Institute administered the Civic Attitude and Engagement Survey to 7th grade students enrolled in Miami-Dade, Clay, and St. Lucie County schools here in Florida. 7,436 students in 75 middle schools across these three districts were surveyed. It should be pointed out here that a huge amount of the data sample was drawn from Miami-Dade schools, in part because of certain time and district issues. 88% of the schools that took part were in Miami-Dade, 10.7% in Clay County, and 1.3% in St. Lucie County. We are grateful to all those that participated.

The survey itself consisted of 20 items of question blocks that focused on a number of areas connected to civic attitudes, knowledge, dispositions, and engagement. Ultimately, we want to provide districts with a tool that would connect completion of Florida’s 7th grade civics course to student (1) civic proficiency and readiness for future engagement as informed citizens; (2) commitment to democratic values and rights; (3) knowledge of current events; (4) efficacy/self-confidence about one’s ability to contribute to society; and (5) experience with recommended pedagogies for civics. We hope to expand the number of participants in this survey, and to provide this as a yearly examination of what is happening in civic education classrooms.

So, what did this first offering of the survey find? Let’s take a look.

Learning in Classroom

learning This is, perhaps, no surprise. The more students are engaged in the practices of civic life through classroom instruction, the more they are likely to engage in the practices of civic life outside of the classroom. Of course, there are caveats that must be taken into account when considering this data. For example, it is highly unlikely that 10% of students are taking part in debates every day. I do not find it surprising however that 40% of students said that they NEVER engage in debate in the classroom, and that 58% of students never participate in a mock trial (though students in Florida are SUPPOSED to experience the jury process. See SS.7.C.2.3—Experience the responsibilities of citizens at the local, state, or federal levels) . In my experience, some teachers are uncomfortable with the structure of debates and simultations and the possibility that there could be controversial (and possibly job-threatening, especially in a state with no tenure) topics involved. And of course, there is the time factor!

It is important to note having even one visitor from the community seemed to have a positive impact on broader civic engagement. This suggests to us that perhaps the FJCC should work on making that more possible (hint: we are).

Best Bang for Your Buck 

best impact

So, what sorts of activities did seem to have the greatest impact on promoting student engagement? Preliminary review and analysis of survey data suggests that, as mentioned above, having a visitor from the community come to a class was huge. These visitors, of course, should be connected in some way to civic life (perhaps a mayor, city manager, council member, school board member, elections supervisor, etc). Naturally, actually participating in some sort of civic project was huge, as students are more likely to continue engaging in civic life once they have been out in the community. Personally, I expected a greater correlation with playing civics-oriented games (in this case, likely to have been iCivics), but I suspect that some of that could depend on how the game is actually used in class, and how often it is used. This is an area for further research on our part.

Best Practices

best practices

Best Practices in Civics, at least according to the most recent research from our friends at CIRCLE , Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, and others, tends to emphasize the Six Proven Practices in civic learning:

1. Classroom Instruction: Schools should provide instruction in civics & government, history, economics, geography, law, and democracy. Formal instruction in these subjects increases civic knowledge and increases young people’s tendency to engage in civic and political activities over the long term. However, schools should avoid teaching only rote facts about dry procedures, which is unlikely to benefit students and may actually alienate them from civic engagement.

2. Discussion of Current Events and Controversial Issues: Schools should incorporate discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events in to the classroom, particularly those that young people view as important to their lives. When students have an opportunity to discuss current issues in a classroom setting, they tend to have a greater interest in civic life and politics as well as improved critical thinking and communication skills.

3. Service-Learning: Schools should design and implement programs that provide students with the opportunity to apply what they learn through performing community service that is linked to the formal curriculum and classroom instruction.

4. Extracurricular Activities: Schools should offer opportunities for young people to get involved in their schools or communities outside of the classroom. Studies show that students who participate in extracurricular activities in school remain more civically engaged then those who did not, even decades later.

5. School Governance: Schools should encourage meaningful student participation in school governance. Giving students more opportunities to participate in the management of their classrooms and schools builds their civic skills and attitudes.

6. Simulations of Democratic Processes: Schools should encourage students to participate in simulations of democratic processes and procedures. Evidence shows that simulations of voting, trials, legislative deliberation and democracy, leads to heightened civic/political knowledge and interest.

As the chart suggests, engaging students in a greater number of school and classroom-oriented civic practice opportunities tends to encourage greater engagement. Is there a point at which we receive diminishing returns however? Do students who might otherwise fall on the low end of civic engagement suddenly jump to moderate or high levels if they take part in all six elements of the proven practices? Just how can we get a control group for this? No one wants to, not should they want to, provide future citizens with a lower quality civic education for the sake of further research. Nonetheless, this remains an area of inquiry that we need to further explore.

Outcomes

particoi

So, what does it all mean. Basically, engaging students in civic practice, even to a low degree, encourages further participation within the broader community!  Now, we must consider that all of this information we have discussed relies on self-reported student data, and the Lake Woebegon Effect should always be in the back of our minds. Still, there are promising methods which can encourage greater student engagement in civic life; teachers just need to do them, and curriculum should be written in such a way that we give students that opportunity.

This is, certainly, a great deal to take in. The Partnership for Civic Learning is eager to continue this research and to see how these findings compare to data gathered from the next iteration and administration of the survey, especially outside the three districts that took part here. We are in the process of developing a brand new website that will share Partnership for Civic Learning research and projects, and this post will be updated to reflect where you can find this entire infographic, among other things.


Teaching Civics by Living History

One of the most exciting things for a social studies teacher is when they get to meet the people that they are teaching about. Recently, our friends in Leon County had this very opportunity. 

Guest Post by Peggy Renihan, FJCC Regional Programs Coordinator:

The Leon County Schools Civics Teachers were hosted by the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, African American History Task Force, and the Florida Humanities Council at the FAMU Meek-Eaton Black Archives for a special Civics Learning Community Meeting on the Civil Rights Movement in Tallahassee. The enthusiastic group of professional educators were joined by several special guests, including the Director of the Black Archives, the Dean of the College of Education, several professors from the College of Education at FAMU, area ministers and Dr. Errol Wilson on behalf of the African American History Task Force.

The highlight of the evening was the keynote speaker, Rev. Dr. Henry M. Steele. He is the second son of the late Rev. Dr. and Mrs. C.K. Steele Sr. Dr. Steele is the former pastor of several churches in Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Steele was the first high school teenager in the country to accept jail rather than bail during the lunch counter sit-ins in Tallahassee, following in the footsteps of his father, who was himself a leading Civil Rights activist in Florida. Arrested at 16 at a demonstration, he worked on a chain gang while serving time in the Leon County jail.

FullSizeRender (1)

In 1955, Rosa Parks set off this country’s first bus boycott of the civil rights movement. A few months later, the second major boycott got underway… in Tallahassee. There is now a Tallahassee-Leon County Civil Rights Heritage Walk. The memorial honors 50+ of Tallahassee’s “foot soldiers” — folks who took part in the 1956 bus boycott and, later, lunch counter sit-ins. Reverend Steele is one of those “foot soldiers”.

We encourage you to check out the documentary. It could be useful to explore this deep Florida connection to the Civil Rights Movement!

Every February the Leon County Schools Civics Teachers participate in an hour and a half experiential learning opportunity. We believe that field experiences in the community enhance and enrich their teaching. It was an honor and a pleasure to learn of Rev. Dr. Henry Steele’s experience in our capital city. His honest and candid memory was refreshing. The teachers were able to take their experience with a “foot soldier” back into the classroom to relate it to their students.


Reflections on Jury Duty

So, as you may recall, your intrepid blogger got called for jury duty this week. This was my first time being called in all my years, and I was excited to serve. It was, without a doubt, an interesting day, and it really was a wonderful experience seeing the process in action. That being said, however, there was a significant surprise and slight frustration to me, and I want to discuss what that might mean for our own work in civic education.

Arriving at 8am, I was at the jury location until almost 7:30 at night. What was wonderful to see, in the two jury selection call ups that I ended up in, was that so many of my fellow citizens were so excited to be there. Consistently, I heard from them, as they were interrogated by the prosecution and defense counsel, that they believed it was their civic responsibility. And you know what, that made me incredibly happy to hear! Because, really, isn’t it more than just a responsibility? Shouldn’t we see it as a right? The right to serve our fellow citizens in the most important of tasks: the administration of justice?

I actually made it ‘into the box’ at the end of the day, and it was engaging and interesting in being questioned about my own views on certain elements of justice, decision making, and the Constitution. Unfortunately, it was ultimately decided (after 7pm that night) that they would in fact select NONE of us for the jury. I admit that I was really not surprised at that point, because of something that I observed during the process: most of the folks that sat in that jury box with me did not really grasp the importance of the 5th Amendment. What do I mean by this?

The Fifth Amendment states that “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
The most important element of that Fifth Amendment, for this discussion, is this one: nor shall [any person] be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.   Unfortunately, when polled by the opposing counsels, the majority of potential jury members suggested that they would possibly be biased against the defendant if they did not testify. This is an understandable perspective, and a human one, really. We want to hear from those we are making a decision about. Our Constitution, however, expects that we will put aside that desire, that bias, and judge the case on the merits put forward by the prosecution, not the testimony of the defendant. As pointed out during the process, the burden of proof is NOT on the defense. Always, it is on the prosecution, and the defense is under no obligation to smooth the path for them.
To me, this suggests that as civic educators, we may need to overcome what folks have picked up from Law and Order all these years: the idea that the defendant testimony is what will decide guilty or not guilty. We must ensure that our teachers, and our fellow citizens, emphasize and understand the meaning of the Fifth Amendment, and how it protects us all. No citizen should ever be faced with a jury that cannot make a decision, a fair decision, without hearing from the defendant.

There are some good resources for teaching about this most important of amendments out there. Please note that while these are not necessarily aligned with the 7th grade Florida Civics Benchmarks, they remain good resources for instruction. Just, as always, be sure to adapt them to meet your own state standards or benchmarks! Three quality resources are below.

The Five Parts of the Fifth: This, from North Carolina, introduces students to the 5 elements of the Fifth Amendment and engages them in acting out each of the rights therein.

Pleading the Fifth: This, from the Law Related Education folks, is an in depth look at just what this phrase means.

Dickerson V. United States (2000): This lesson, from the Bill of Rights Institute, explores the importance of that right to remain silent.

I would LOVE to hear how you approach the Fifth Amendment with YOUR students! Of course, I also encourage you to check out the resources that we here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship have available, gratis!

And oh yes..I cannot wait until the next time I get called to serve! :)


Embracing Your Civic Privilege

CWMDJgWWwAA0tZz.jpg large“I consider trial by jury as the only anchor ever yet
imagined by man, by which a government can be
held to the principles of its constitution.”
–Thomas Jefferson

So today I have the distinct pleasure of sitting for jury duty. I say this without any snark whatsoever. This is actually my first time ever, in my now 42 years of life, being called for service. I am greatly excited.

You have to think about it like this. If, God forbid, YOU were to face a jury trial, wouldn’t you want someone like YOU on the jury? Jury service matters. I find all of the jokes about getting out of jury duty, and the many ways in which people try to get out of it, to in many ways reflect the lack of civic feeling we seem to suffer from today. Of course there are plenty of valid reasons for not being able to serve, but we have to remember, ultimately, that our civic health and civic life as a nation relies on citizens fulfilling their obligations and embracing the importance of ensuring our fellow citizens enjoy the protections granted by our Constitution.

And of course, if you are a Florida civics teacher, what better way to teach the benchmarks concerning our system and the responsibilities of citizens than to experience them!

7.C.2.2: Evaluate the obligations citizens have to obey laws, pay taxes, defend the nation, and serve on juries.
7.C.2.3: Experience the responsibilities of citizens at the local, state, or federal levels.
7.C.2.6: Simulate the trial process and the role of juries in the administration of justice.

A final thought. The judge that swore us in today made the point that the right to a jury trial in this country has evolved over time. As I look around the room, many of us in here could not have served on a jury at the founding of this country, not being landed white men. It is a privilege and an obligation. As Andrew Guthrie Ferguson has argued:

A jury summons is an invitation to participation. Jurors are asked to involve themselves in some of the most personal, sensational, and terrifying events in a community. It is real life, usually real tragedy, played out in court. Jurors confront disturbing facts, bloody images, or heart-wrenching testimony. A jury may have to decide whether a man lives or dies, or whether a multimillion-dollar company goes bankrupt. A jury will have to pass judgment in a way that will have real-world effects on both parties before the court. This active role was not accidental. Participation in jury service teaches the skills required for democratic self-government. Being a juror lets you develop the habits and skills of citizenship.

And isn’t that what matters?


Resources for Community Engagement and Service Learning

Being a good citizen is about more than simply knowing some memorized facts that you can pull off of the Internet. It is, in many ways, also about being involved with your community and learning how to make a difference in your own life and in the lives of your fellow citizens. Today’s post comes to us from the FJCC’s own Val McVey, and she shares with us resources that can be used to engage with your community and learn how to be a good citizen.

The Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for Civics lend themselves to meaningful student engagement with the community. Some of the benchmarks require service learning while others ask students to identify ways citizens can be involved and make positive contributions to their community and work with others to solve problems.

Benchmarks Include –

  • 1.C.2.3 – Identify ways students can participate in the betterment of their school and community
  • 2.C.2.4 – Identify ways citizens can make a positive contribution in their community
  • 3.C.2.1 – Identify group and individual actions of citizens that demonstrate civility, cooperation, volunteerism, and other civic virtues
  • 4.C.2.2 – Identify ways citizens work together to influence government and help solve community and state problems
  • 5.C.2.5 – Identify ways good citizens go beyond basic civic and political responsibilities to improve government and society
  • 7.C.2.14 – Conduct a service project to further the public good
  • 9.C.2.5 – Conduct a service project to further the public good
  • 9.C.2.8 – Analyze the impact of citizen participation as a means of achieving political and social change

 

To assist with teaching these benchmarks, we are highlighting a handful of organizations that offer unique community engagement and service learning programs and curriculum materials.

If you have another organization to add to the list, we would love to hear from you!

Organizations

Do Something provides teens and young people avenues to get involved with a wide range of social change campaigns. Individual or groups of high school students can login to the website, explore in-progress campaigns, and choose a campaign to get involved with. Do Something relies heavily on teens and young peoples’ connectivity through social media.

Generator School Network is an online community of more than 5,000 youth and adult members who have discovered how they can change the world through service learning. The GSN is the leading resource for fast and easy sharing, service-learning professional development, and networking. Their clearinghouse is a searchable database with thousands of K-12 service-learning ideas, organizations and resources.

Giraffe Heroes Project’s mission is to move people to stick their necks out for the common good, and to give them tools to succeed. They provide curriculum materials (free and for purchase) that weave together character education, civic engagement and service-learning all around the mission of moving K-12 students to be courageous, compassionate, and responsible members of the community. Students learn about people who have “stuck their neck out” for the common good and how they can nominate others to become giraffe heroes.

H2O for Life educates, engages and inspires youth to learn, take action and become global citizens.  They provide K-12 students with a unique and valuable learning experience through service-learning opportunities focused on the global water crisis. All of their materials are free and available for use.  Their unique program offers participating U.S. schools a connection with a partner school in a developing country that needs water. Each participating school receives a project outline of the partner school, their project fundraising goal and photos to provide a name and face for Florida students.

Kid World Citizen provides multi-content area resources for K-8 teachers to teach global citizenship. Included on their website is a list of service projects and opportunities for kids to volunteer within their community that will empower kids with responsibility, engage their compassion, and offer them the chance to affect the lives of others.

Again, if you have additional organizations or resources, leave them in a comment here or shoot me an email at stephen.masyada@ucf.edu!


Making a Difference: Friday’s Close Up Broward Youth Policy Summit Expo

IMG_0039

As you will recall from my last post, I was headed down to Broward County to see the great work being done there by the ESOL department within the district and by the Close Up Foundation. I am happy to say that it was a wonderful experience to see so many young immigrants dedicated to improving their communities and learning what it means to be a citizen. These 200 young people, almost all of whom have been in this country for three years or less, presented their civic-oriented proposals for feedback and discussion with local citizens, community leaders, and other interested parties. An overview of the expo can be seen below.

IMG_0040What do I like about this? Where to start! It gives young people, new to this country a chance to engage in the process of civic life and civic work. It gets them thinking not only about problems, but about solutions. It develops their communication skills and their ability to talk with leaders and community members, such as district superintendent Robert Runcie, who can make a difference in their lives. No, let me revise that. It allows these kids to have a sense that THEY are making a difference THEMSELVES. Isn’t that what we want for our young people? That sense of belonging, of advocacy, and of efficacy as citizens?

Over 200 fresh young immigrants share policy proposals with the state and Broward community

Over 200 fresh young immigrants share policy proposals with the state and Broward community

I had the great pleasure of talking with many of these kids about their proposals, and it was incredibly refreshing to hear them articulate a passion for change and a desire to make a difference as residents and, yes, as citizens. They addressed issues of concern to both them and their community, were open to feedback and suggestions to strengthen their proposals, and demonstrated an understanding of the difference they could make, and why this effort mattered. It was wonderful to see. In the rest of this post, you can take a look at just a few of the dozens of proposals that these young immigrants shared.

How can we reduce testing in schools and still ensure kids are learning?

How can we reduce testing in schools and still ensure kids are learning?

 

Let's make sure that everyone has access to quality health services!

Let’s make sure that everyone has access to quality health services!

How can we make sure that schools have equitable access to resources?

How can we make sure that schools have equitable access to resources?

Let's make sure that all able-bodied people can both work and support their families!

Let’s make sure that all able-bodied people can both work and support their families!

It doesn't have to be 15 dollars an hour to make a difference and help both business and the community!

It doesn’t have to be 15 dollars an hour to make a difference and help both business and the community!

We need to address issues with teen violence in schools, especially in low SES areas!

We need to address issues with teen violence in schools, especially in low SES areas!

 

These are just a few of the many different policy proposals that these wonderful kids came up with. Others involved protection of the environment, changing the role of the school counselor away from a testing coordinator to actual counselling, medical marijuana, school bullying, teen pregnancy, and so many more areas of relevance and concern in the immigrant community, in Broward, in Florida, and in the nation. Kudos to both Broward ESOL and the Close Up Foundation in this work. You can find additional images on the Expo at the Broward ESOL Facebook page, as well as through the Close Up Foundation’s Twitter feed (and they worth a follow!). I am excited to see what comes next, and I hope that we here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship might find ways to help in this effort down the road. So much promise!