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COUNCIL OF STATE GOVERNMENTS - WEST. POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT FORUM September 2007. ENGAGING YOUTH IN POLITICS. What Policymakers Can Do! Terry Pickeral NATIONAL CENTER FOR LEARNING AND CITIZENSHIP. POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT FORUM. Are American youth disengaged from politics?

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COUNCIL OF STATE GOVERNMENTS - WEST

POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT FORUM

September 2007


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ENGAGING YOUTH INPOLITICS

What Policymakers Can Do!

Terry Pickeral

NATIONAL CENTER FOR LEARNING AND CITIZENSHIP


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POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT FORUM

  • Are American youth disengaged from politics?

  • What can legislators do to improve the situation?


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FACTS

  • Youth volunteer rates show increase to 2005

    • more than twice the rate teens did at the close of the "greed is good" 1980s

  • Youth volunteer more than adults 26 and older

  • Youth do care about others and want to make a difference on issues they care about (environment, social justice, animal rights, etc.)


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FACTS

  • The voter turnout among young people did increase recently

    • 18-22 year olds increased from 22% to 25% between 2002 and 2006 elections

    • Reversing downward trend since 1982

  • Potential reasons for increase

    • Voter registration and get out the vote efforts

    • Change in voter registration process (election day)

    • In 2006 there were many contested elections


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POLITICALSOCIALIZATION

  • The process whereby citizens become aware of the principles of political culture, political facts and political values

  • If citizens are not exposed to and engaged in opportunities to understand relevant facts, important ideas and critical thinking, their ability to self-govern and participate as active principled citizens is reduced


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POLITCALLITERACY

  • Assisting young people to become politically aware and effective

  • Ensuring young people are able to use ideas, language, forms of thought and arguments to deal with a public issues

  • Providing opportunities in early formative years for citizens to understand their role in a democracy


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POLITICALLITERACY

  • Ensuring that political participation is not a spectator sport

  • Providing citizens the tools to understand politics leads to a more knowledgeable electorate and heightened interest in political processes

  • Reversing the trend of civic disengagement – to higher civic participation


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Strands” of Civic Competency

Civic-related knowledge, both historical and contemporary, such as understanding the structure and mechanics of constitutional government, and knowing who the local political actors are and how democratic institutions function.


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Strands” of Civic Competency

Cognitive and participative skills (and associated behaviors), such as the ability to understand and analyze data about government and local issues, and skills that help a student resolve conflict as part of a group.


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Strands” of Civic Competency

Cognitive and participative skills (and associated behaviors), such as the ability to understand and analyze data about government and local issues, and skills that help a student resolve conflict as part of a group.


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Strands” of Civic Competency

Core Civic dispositions (motivations for behavior and values/attitudes), which can include support for justice and equality and a sense of personal responsibility. Participation-related dispositions assess dispositions such as support for norms of participation, and expectations of actual political or social involvement.


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Strands” of Civic Competency

Students will not necessarily connect knowledge and skills to their civic dispositions without experience or a reason to believe their participation is worthwhile.


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MAKING THE CASE

To align political socialization, political literacy and citizenship competencies legislators need to create formal opportunities to enhance students’ civic knowledge and skills, and integrate legislative opportunities into curricula and classes.


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SO WHAT?

  • Youth legislative engagement programs:

    • Reverse the trend of youth disengagement

    • Provide positive interactions with legislators increase youth’s interest in and orientation to policy and politics

    • Engage legislators in social issues important to youth

    • Increase civic and political literacy of citizens

    • Sustain a more vibrant democracy


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YOUTH COUNCILS

  • State legislatures, policymakers, education leaders and mayors have created youth councils made up of youth who advise policymakers and decision-makers

  • Youth Council structures and roles vary

  • Consistently they provide young people a meaningful role in the policy and decision making process

  • Young people, through Youth Councils, have a voice and direct contact with policymakers and decision makers


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YOUTH COUNCILS

  • Six elements of successful Youth Councils

    • Diverse membership of youth

    • A sound infrastructure

    • A supportive work environment

    • Deepen youth motivation

    • Build youth capacity

    • Provide quality opportunities for access

Source: Martin, Shanetta; Pittman, Karen; Ferber, Thaddeaus; McMahon, Ada. Building Effective Youth Councils: A Practical Guide to Engaging Youth in Policymaking. Forum for Youth Investment, July 2007


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YOUTH COUNCILS

  • Youth Councils have been implemented in 12 states

    • Arizona

    • Iowa

    • Louisiana

    • Maine

    • Maryland

    • Missouri

    • Nebraska

    • Nevada

    • New Hampshire

    • New Mexico

    • North Carolina

    • Washington


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YOUTH COUNCILS

  • Youth Councils have been implemented in several cities including:

    • Boston

    • Des Moines

    • Grand Rapids

    • Hampton

    • Nashville

    • San Francisco


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WHAT POLICIES HAVE STATES ADOPTED?

  • The ECS National Center for Learning and Citizenship recently conducted a 50-state review of state statutes and administrative code to identify state-level policies providing opportunities for young people to formally participate in the state policymaking process.


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WHAT POLICIES HAVE STATES ADOPTED?

  • This review of state statutes and code revealed:

    • Six states have legislative youth advisory councils/committees (LA, NV, NH, NM, ME, WA)

    • Twelve states include students as members of their state board of education

    • Thirty-five states include students as members of their state higher education system’s governing body

Education Commission of the States. State Policies on Youth Engagement in Policymaking. June 2007


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ECS National Center for Learning and Citizenship

www.ecs.org/nclc

Terry Pickeral

303-299-3636

tpickeral@ecs.org