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Michigan Student Caucus Platform and Service Actions Presented December 8, 2010 Michigan State Capitol Lansing, MI http://michiganstudentcaucus.org.
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Platform and Service Actions
Presented December 8, 2010
Michigan State Capitol
About the Michigan Student CaucusThe Michigan Student Caucus represents students throughout Michigan to the Michigan State Legislature. Since 2001, thousands of students across Michigan have participated in online deliberation, negotiation and voting leading to the construction of a political platform that is presented in formal testimony to the House Commission on Civic Engagement.The Michigan Student Caucus is not affiliated with any political party or organization. The MSC is open to any Michigan resident (permanent or temporary) who is a student. For information about the program, please contact our faculty advisors at The University of Michigan, Professors Gary Weisserman, Jeff Kupperman, Jay McDowelland David Lossing.Twice each year, MSC participants, including hundreds of high school and college students from around Michigan, present testimony about the MSC platform before the Michigan House of Representatives' Special Commission on Civic Engagement.There are five content areas in which students create legislative platforms for discussion, debate, and eventual inclusion on the semester’s platform. The content areas are:Economic Development and Community RevitalizationArts and CultureHuman Development and WelfareEnvironment and HealthJustice and EquityIn addition to the online postings and deliberations, students are required to participate in an actual service activity project during the semester. Those service projects are found near the end of this document.
“Buy Local” Tax IncentivesAlexandra Rabman, Jessica ZelvinWHEREAS Buying locally will stimulate the economy and regenerate money within the state WHEREAS Cheap energy and agricultural subsidies used to mass-produce and ship food across the nation facilitate a type of agriculture that is destroying and polluting our soils and water and concentrating wealth and power into a few hands. WHEREAS Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms, and therefore continues to strengthen the economic base of the community. WHEREAS Locally owned businesses can make more local purchases requiring less transportation and generally set up shop in town or city centers as opposed to developing outside main parts of town thereby reducing congestion, habitat loss and pollution. WHEREAS Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, provide the most jobs to residents. WHEREAS Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future. WHEREAS Local farming benefits the local community and local economy while supporting the environment by enriching the soil, protecting air and water quality, and minimizing energy consumption. WHEREAS A growing body of economic research shows that in an increasingly homogenized world, entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character. WHEREAS Industrial food production is entirely dependent on fossil fuels, which, when refined and burned, create greenhouse gases that are significant contributors to climate change. The biggest part of fossil fuel use in industrial farming is not transporting food or fueling machinery; it's chemicals. WHEREAS By adding transportation, processing and packaging to our food system equation, we are currently placing a tremendous stress on the environment due to exorbitant fossil fuel and energy use. For example, between production and transportation, growing 10% more produce for local consumption in Michigan would result in an annual savings ranging from 280,000 to 346,000 gallons of fuel, and an annual reduction in CO2 emissions ranging from 6.7 to 7.9 million pounds. WHEREAS Food processors use a large amount of paper and plastic packaging to keep fresh food from spoiling as it is transported and stored for long periods of time. This packaging is difficult or impossible to reuse or recycle and also serves as a major source of air and water pollution. WHEREAS Farmers are earning less producing crops these days than they did in 1969, despite the fact that American farmers have almost doubled productivity over the past four decades.
“Buy Local” Tax Incentives continuedWHEREAS To make ends meet, and often to get health insurance, more than half of American farmers work a second off-farm job. WHEREAS A recent retail diversity study of San Francisco and three Peninsula cities found that purchasing from locally owned businesses created about 70% more local jobs, and 67% more overall local income, per dollar spent. The authors concluded that by shifting just 10% of purchases to local businesses, consumers would add nearly 1,300 new jobs and $200 million in economic activity to the cities studied. THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED To stimulate buying from local businesses consumers of locally produced/grown food receive a tax break.BE IT RESOLVED Items grown in-state will be discounted by a certain tax amount as opposed to other products in the store not from Michigan.BE IT RESOLVED That Michigan sales tax of 6% will be lowered to 3% for all locally produced items, whether bought in a store only supplying local items or a store with multiple products from which to choose. BE IT RESOLVED By being good stewards of the land, seeking out local markets, minimizing packaging, and harvesting food only when it is ready to consume, growing locally can significantly reduce our environmental impact. Studies have shown that sustainable agricultural practices can actually increase food production by up to 79% while at the same time actively reducing the effects of farming on climate change through carbon sequestration BE IT RESOLVED Farmers would benefit from tax incentive on locally grown products, because they could their costs of production and continue to stay in business. BE IT RESOLVED According to a study produced by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, buying from a local farmer sends 90% of food dollars back to the farm. This means that more money can be spent locally by the farmer to run their business and home, helping keep the local economy alive. BE IT RESOLVED Michigan would benefit from increased economic activity and trade-related communication among local businesses.BE IT RESOLVED Consumers would benefit from purchasing cheaper products
Improving Education Systems in Michigan in Order to Better the EconomyAlyssa SteinwayWHEREAS There exists a strong correlation between poor education systems and a struggling economy. WHEREAS Although U.S. school achievement scores have stagnated, harming the economy as employers look elsewhere for competent workers, the report says that other nations have made gains. If U.S. students matched Finland's, for example, analysis suggests the U.S. economy would grow 9%-16%. WHEREAS "Education is so important - especially right now - because it truly is the key to revitalizing Michigan's economy," "Experts across the country agree that investing in education is the single most effective strategy for stoking a state's economic growth. That's why our schools and our kids are the foundation of our state's economic plan." -Governor Granholm WHEREAS Economic models also estimate an early-elementary student with an outstanding teacher will earn $39,000 more over their lifetime than a similar child with a sub par teacher. WHEREAS Another economic model suggest that if the bottom quarter of Michigan teachers were replaced by better instructors, it would raise Michigan incomes by an average of 2.4% ($4.5 Billion dollars in today’s economy) WHEREAS If the dropouts from the class of 2009 graduated, an additional $319 billion in wages, taxes and productivity over their working lives would have been generated WHEREAS If the entire 2009 class graduated, our nation could save $174 billion in healthcare costs THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED In order to improve Michigan's economy, we need to improve the education systems. In order to improve these systems we need to make changes. These changes include creating mentoring programs for students in order to give them the supported needed to succeed and reach their goals, and we need to improve the quality of teachers.BE IT RESOLVED Evaluations of mentoring programs show that a youth's one-to-one relationship with a supportive adult can lead to a number of positive outcomes. Research indicates that mentoring relationships that take hold are likely to grow progressively more valuable over time. --Corporation for National Community Service BE IT RESOLVED If the graduation rate of male students increased by 5%, the nation would gain $7.7 billion in crime related saving BE IT RESOLVED While extended learning time is seen as key, research on activities outside the regular school day have shown mixed findings regarding impact on graduation, with supplemental approaches—such as sporadic homework help and irregular counseling—having virtually no impact on dropout prevention - Betterhighschools.org BE IT RESOLVED Research has shown that the most critical asset in helping young people succeed is the presence of a caring adult in each of their lives
Improving Education Systems in Michigan in Order to Better the Economy continuedBE IT RESOLVED Ensuring that new teachers enter the profession with the necessary skills, knowledge, and abilities is the most important function of federal and state policies governing teaching. BE IT RESOLVED In order to improve teacher quality- teacher preparation should include certain core elements. In addition, we need to take measures to prevent federal and state loopholes that allow unlicensed or unprepared teachers into classrooms. Also by, rejecting testing-only approaches to licensure that allow for “trial-and-error” teachers to enter the classroom without demonstrating they possess the necessary teaching knowledge and skill. BE IT RESOLVED Increase number of programs to the education systems that focus on improving teacher quality and ensure teaching to the INDIVIDUAL versus teaching to the test or the class as a whole. BE IT RESOLVED Must replicate some of the programs that have been created, and succeeded, throughout the country. Programs like the "Harlem Children's Zone" which helped the public charter schools to have the best scores in District 5 on both the math and English Language Arts statewide tests, sometimes doubling the district performance. PAII exceeded or came close to the performance of white students in the city and state in every grade in math and two of three grades in English. In addition, Michigan has started a program similar to the programs previously listed, Focus Hope. Focus Hope provides career training and has broken the racial standards for high school graduation rates. Statistics like this prove that it is possible; we just need to spread these types of Programs. BE IT RESOLVED Research has shown that programs like KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) may be beneficial but are not enough need to supplement these types of programs with "surround great schools with an effective system of additional services for poor families." These two programs are known as the KIPP and Zone Strategy. -NY Times BE IT RESOLVED Many of these programs may be costly however these changes have been started and have already provided hard evidence the goals of these programs will work. Moreover the long-term results of these types of program will prove that these funds are just an investment to improving the state of Michigan.
After School Arts Program (ASAP) in MichiganJennifer RisoWHEREAS Michigan has approximately 352 prisoners serving mandatory life sentences for crimes committed while they were juveniles — the second-highest number in the world, behind Pennsylvania at 444. WHEREAS A report released by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a nonprofit crime-prevention group, says the United States could possibly cut crime in half if it put more money into "proven programs that help kids get the right start." WHEREAS After school arts programs in Michigan will allow students to participate in educationally engaging activities, which can help, diminish student crime rates.WHEREAS Bringing the After School Arts Program to Michigan will provide artistic opportunities for children, adults, and members of the general public through educational workshops, events, and field trips with professional artists and arts organizations. WHEREAS The After School Arts Program is a Connecticut-based non-profit organization dedicated to providing artistic and cultural opportunities for children and adults.WHEREAS Knight Foundation in Detroit helped launch the signature Design Detroit Initiative by providing a $200,000 planning grant to the key coordinating group. WHEREAS East Carolina University has expanded ASAP to elementary schools in North Carolina. WHEREAS The Broad Foundation made a major contribution to the School of the Arts and Architecture at UCLA for The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center and has contributed to the museum at Michigan State University. THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED ASAP should be brought to Detroit - inviting teachers and volunteers to join in creating an after-school program to increase participation in, and appreciation for, the arts. BE IT RESOLVED Many arts foundations around Michigan could donate money in order to help initiate ASAP in Michigan, such as James Tatum Foundation for the Arts, The Knight Foundation, and many more. BE IT RESOLVED The Broad Foundation could also be asked to make a donation in order to help the lives of students in Detroit by allowing them to participate in extracurricular activities relating to the arts. BE IT RESOLVED ASAP would be able to operate according to it's mission statement if properly implemented into some of the Detroit Public Schools, allowing students to stay at their respective schools in order to participate in the after school activities.
Increase Funding for Arts Education in MichiganSamantha Bogus, Tessa CatlettWHEREAS Arts education is crucial to increase growth and performance among students at any age in Michigan. WHEREAS In Gaston County, studies have shown that teachers utilizing visual and performing arts to teach students math, science, history, and language have seen an 8% increase in students passing the state’s exams. WHEREAS According to a study done by the Mozart Effect, “middle and high school students with strong involvement in thetheater or music scored an average of 16 to 18 percentage points higher on standardized tests than those with low arts involvement.”WHEREAS “On national tests, 69 percent of Detroit children score below basic on fourth grade math.”WHEREAS 77 percent of eighth graders in Detroit scored below basic on math testing and as a whole, eighth graders in Detroit ranked in the 12th percentile nationally. WHEREAS In 2007, arts education was nationally cut by $35 million.WHEREAS In the past decade, funding for the arts in Michigan has gone from about $25 million down to $2.26 million. WHEREAS In the fiscal year 2009-2010, Michigan cut 80% of state arts funding, becoming the national leader in cuts to funding for arts education. THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED Michigan needs to increase funding for arts education in schools for students of all ages to increase growth and performance in schools.BE IT RESOLVED Government should allocate more of their statewide budget for arts education programs in all schools in the next fiscal year 2011 in order to see an increase in NEAP scores. BE IT RESOLVED Government should implement a 3% tax on entertainment tickets, such as sporting events and concerts. This would result in $150 million-$250 million increase in annual state revenue. This money would go towards funding for arts education and could even be shared with other educational initiatives such as libraries, and public safety. BE IT RESOLVED Foundations interested in increased state performance should donate time and money to fund arts education in Michigan. BE IT RESOLVED The Michigan Student Caucus could raise money to help purchase art supplies to donate to the schools in Michigan that need it the most.
Harlem Children's Zone in DetroitM. Claire BeDell, Cecily JarosWHEREAS Fewer than 25% of high school freshmen in Detroit go on to graduate high school WHEREAS Between 10/7/10 and 10/13/10 there were 146 crimes committed in Detroit city limits. WHEREAS "In Detroit, youths commit so much crime that city officials were forced to impose a 10 p.m. curfew last year for anyone 16 or under." (time.com) WHEREAS "About a third of all juvenile arrests for homicide occur in just four cities -- Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and New York." WHEREAS The rate of children ages 2-5 with obesity has increased nationally 12.4% since 2003. WHEREAS In 2008, there were 4,283 teen pregnancies in Detroit.WHEREAS 60% of African American males who drop out of high school are incarcerated by their mid-30s. THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED A Detroit Harlem Zone be built based off the successful Harlem Children's Zone in New York City, a prevention program with a neighborhood-based plan to get kids into school and keep them there. BE IT RESOLVED Volunteers, teachers, neighbors in Detroit promote the education of local youth and work together to raise the local high school and college graduation rates. BE IT RESOLVED A neighborhood in Detroit be created with goals to provide a safe, stimulating educational pathway from preschool through high school for thousands of Detroit youths. BE IT RESOLVED A Detroit Children's Zone include obesity prevention programs and physical activities and educations how to live and eat healthy. It will be modeled off of the HCZ TRUCE program, "TRUCE Fitness and Nutrition Center offers free classes to children in karate, fitness and dance. Participants also learn about health and nutrition, and receive regular academic assistance." BE IT RESOLVED Children be surrounded in an environment that protects them from the pressures of gangs, crime, school drop out, drugs, etc. and one which encourages success. BE IT RESOLVED Parents in the Detroit Zone be taught during pregnancy effective ways to raise a child and how to keep them safe and in school via the "Baby College" program. This program teaches expectant parents things like verbal punishment over corporal punishment and other effective parenting skills. Children of these parents will progress unto the "Detroit Gems" program, modeled after the "Harlem Gems" program, which helps preschoolers adjust to and prepare for the transition to kindergarten.BE IT RESOLVED The HCZ Project began as a one-block pilot in the 1990s, then following a 10-year business plan, it expanded to 24 blocks, then 60 blocks, then ultimately 97 blocks.
Harlem Children’s Zone in Detroit continuedBE IT RESOLVED President Barack Obama has called for the creation of "Promise Neighborhoods" across the country based on the comprehensive, data-driven approach of the HCZ Project.BE IT RESOLVED HCZ helps over 10,000 children a year and talks to other communities about creating similar programs.BE IT RESOLVED The Detroit Harlem Zone will follow after the Harlem model and enact a baby college, a parenting workshop for expectant parents held on Saturdays that "teaches parents about their child's development, building language skills and parenting skills" and enact a longer school day and year for elementary school children. Also, shaping after HCZ, in the middle school and high school should be Student Advocates. The website describes it, "each of the six high-school sites has Student Advocates, assigned by grades, to work with each young person to create individualized Action Plans that identify concrete strategies to enrich and support the student's academic achievement, college readiness and personal growth."BE IT RESOLVED MSC will work with the Michigan legislature to determine a pilot "block" in the city of Detroit where the legislature believes the program would be most successful.
Job Preparation For the Less FortunateJaclyn Rubel, Ilana ShapiroWHEREAS Michigan has the second highest unemployment rate in the country at 13%.WHEREAS According to a report released by the Labor Department in 2009, Michigan became the first state in 25 years to suffer an unemployment rate exceeding 15%.WHEREAS Only 20 percent of women in Michigan have four or more years of college education. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, this means Michigan ranks 37th in comparison to other states.WHEREAS Michigan ranks 49 out of all 50 states in the nation for the ration of women's to men's earnings with only 58.9% of women participating in the workforce.WHEREAS In 2009, 59.2% of all women over 16 were in the labor force, compared to 72.0% of all men.WHEREAS Today, women remain severely underrepresented in non-traditional occupations even though these jobs pay 20-30 percent more than traditionally female jobs. WHEREAS While Michigan women have made gains in access to higher education, earning 57 percent of all bachelor's degrees and 58 percent of all master's degrees, they earned only 45 percent of professional degrees and 41 percent of doctorate degrees, which falls below the national average in the same category. WHEREAS Even though women-owned firms represent an estimated 30 percent of all businesses in the United States, their firms have obtained a mere 3 percent of the $277.5 billion in federal government contracts awarded in fiscal year 2003. This is still short of the five percent goal Congress established in 1994.WHEREAS Single women with children account for 43% of children living in poverty. WHEREAS Divorce, for women, is often the first step into poverty (only 31% of female head of households received child allowance).THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED That the government should fund a program to help prepare women for job preparation and interviews. BE IT RESOLVED that this program will base its mission off of nonprofit organizations such as The Bottomless Closet (http://bottomlesscloset.org/). BE IT RESOLVED That this program will provide professional clothing, interview skills, and career skills and continues with professional development, financial management and personal enrichment.BE IT RESOLVED That since 70% of the female client base of The Bottomless Closet are single mothers with an average of two children to support, our target clients will be single mothers. BE IT RESOLVED That clothing will be collected through donations. Items such as suits, separates, tops, shoes, and coats will be asked for. BE IT RESOLVED that all financial contributions will be tax-deductible but employees will be on government pay roll. BE IT RESOLVED that services will include one on one assistance in resume preparation, interview techniques and presentation skills to women seeking employment. BE IT RESOLVED Volunteers can participate in activities such as clothes consultation and coaching, workshops and programming, fundraising activities, and mentoring.
Hospitals and Fresh FoodBrett Barash, Allison GollubWHEREAS Trans fats have been widely recognized as being unhealthy and of contributing to obesity. WHEREAS Many hospitals in the state of Michigan do not provide healthy food options for patients or visitors. WHEREAS Hospitals, institutions which provide health care for the public, are sending contradictory messages to their patients and staff by providing primary unhealthy food options. As institutions that work to improve individual's health, they should provide food consistent with their purpose. WHEREAS The University of Michigan has found that cafes on health system property, vending machines and vendors (such as Einstein's Bagels) have trans fats in many of their foods offered. WHEREAS 38% of "the top health institutions" have fast food franchises on their main medical campuses, including University of Michigan. WHEREAS 59 of the 250 hospitals for children still contain fast food restaurants. WHEREAS Nutritionists have addressed the "incongruity of a medical establishment that bemoans obesity-related illness yet contracts with pizza and burger franchises for its cafeterias and loads its vending machines with trans-fat-laden cookies."WHEREAS In 2009, 70.2% of males and 56.1% of females in the state of Michigan were classified as overweight or obese.WHEREAS Hospitals rely on catering companies to provide food, as a result the meals are mass-produced off site and transported to hospitals where the pre-made dishes are heated- moreover, often times there is not even a kitchen in the hospital where this food is being made. WHEREAS Hospitals resort to catering because it seems to be cost-effective. However as a result patients become undernourished because the food is of poor quality and consequently take longer to get better. WHEREAS Dietary consumption is satisfactory in 5% of the patients who are eating at hospitals. WHEREAS Patients who eat at hospitals consume food that is considered to be below 90% of the nutritional requirements. WHEREAS Fat consumption by patients in hospitals who are on regular and diabetic diets met 70 and 75% of the nutritional requirements. THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED that hospitals reduce bulk buying of precooked and prepackaged food which are unhealthy.BE IT RESOLVED The University of Michigan hospitals have already committed to changing the way that meals are prepared by avoiding the use of trans fats in all food made by retail food operations, including all patient meals, providing a model that must be followed by other hospitals throughout the state. BE IT RESOLVED The ban on the use of trans fats will lead to a more healthy food environment in the hospital.
Hospitals and Fresh Food continuedBE IT RESOLVED By serving patients fresh, seasonal food, hospitals will begin to see food as a prevention and treatment issue.BE IT RESOLVED that hospitals work with local farmers to provide their patients with antibiotic free meat and organic food to ensure their patients are eating healthy.BE IT RESOLVED People are most likely to change habits in the hospital environment because of the health scares they are currently facing. Thus good habits are most likely to be made in hospitals so it is crucial to have healthy food provided in the hospital settings.BE IT RESOLVED We must create programs that ensure the consistent delivery of high quality food and food services to patients, in order for them to be strong for surgeries and beat their diseases. BE IT RESOLVED that hospitals reduce the amount of fast food restaurants in children's hospitals to avoid sending children and their parents mixed messages about what is healthy.
Revamp Preschool Curriculum to Enhance Logic and Reasoning SkillsBrian Kahn, Allison PollackWHEREAS A child's brain grows the most early in it's life. It masters more skills and etches experiences deeper in the mind than at any other time in their life. During these first few years all of these skills such as speaking, walking, vocabulary, math, logic, reasoning, and emotional stability are all greatly influenced. The final number of synapses, which connect brain cells, is determined by their earliest experiences.WHEREAS Many studies have shown that children who play with wooden blocks have higher reasoning skills. From simple activities of learning how to pile wooden blocks so they will not topple over to building color patterns, a child is learning that they can manipulate the blocks. They use them as their tools and can make patterns and structures. A child can learn through trial and error what works. A child will sit for hours figuring out how to best build a fortress out of building blocks. While one piece may not work, they will keep trying until they have it as they want it. WHEREAS In the Preoperational Phase of development which is 2-4 years of age. Transductive reasoning begins to develop and children can think about something without the object being present by use of language. During the Intuitive Phase, which is 4-7 years of age, children have an intuitive grasp of logical concepts in some areas. The concepts formed at this age are irreversible. Their reality isn't firm and perceptions dominate their judgment. WHEREAS The PNC Foundation, in May 2010, announced a $2.1 million investment with the Detroit Public Schools Foundation to establish new programs in science and the arts for underserved preschool children in the Detroit Public Schools. WHEREAS Critical thinking is an important element of all professional fields and academic disciplines because it enables one to analyze, evaluate, explain, and restructure their thinking. These skills can all be enhanced with and increased knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning. WHEREAS According to expert Tony Jacowski, "Logic and reasoning skills are skills that every job will require. Every company and business will run into problems from time to time, and these problems will need to be solved and handled properly. Those who use logic and have reasoning skills will be able to aid in the solving of company problems, which makes them an asset to the company." WHEREAS Public preschools currently establish rules for behavior, and procedures for maintaining order, encourage activities designed to promote physical, mental and social development (such as games, arts and crafts, music, storytelling, and field trips), teach children basic skills (such as color, shape, number and letter recognition, personal hygiene, and social skills), teach proper eating habits and personal hygiene, and provide a variety of materials and resources for children to explore. However comprehensive, they are lacking teaching children how to problem solve via logic and reasoning skills at an early age. WHEREAS 48.9% of children ages 3-4 in the state of Michigan are enrolled in school and on top of that Detroit public schools are 45 schools by 2015. These schools will become overcrowded and have inadequate teachers who need a better idea of how to convey important skills to Detroit's youth such as logic and reasoning.
Revamp Preschool Curriculum to Enhance Logic and Reasoning Skills continuedTHEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED The PNC foundation should continue to revamp preschool curriculum through monetary contributions, and in 2011 allocate funds to enhance logic and reasoning skills for preschoolers in the Detroit area.BE IT RESOLVED Current occupations require logic and reasoning to problem solve, and by learning these skills from an early age young leaders will be well equipped when entering the work force. BE IT RESOLVED Detroit Preschools will incorporate playing with blocks in everyday curriculum.BE IT RESOLVED All Detroit Area Pre Schools will partner with the PNC employees to have development days in which there can be collaboration on exactly how to teach this curriculum and further the development of the children's logic and reasoning skills. These will take place once monthly with each school and will help to develop the teachers and curriculum further.BE IT RESOLVED Detroit public schools will have enough preschools available for all residents of the city. As private preschools are too expensive for many of the residents from the city and with the closing of many schools, overcrowding may occur. The curriculum needs to be revamped and advertised to the people of Michigan so that they will all make sure to have their kids learn the valuable skills that preschools offer.
Increase Public Transportation in MichiganMichael Averbook, Sam HartmanWHEREAS According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), Transportation accounts for more than 30% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. WHEREAS According to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), public transportation in the United States saves approximately 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide and 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline annually. WHEREAS 9% of workers living in Detroit commute by public transportation.WHEREAS Families that use public transportation can reduce their household expenses by $6,200 annually, more than the average U.S. household spends on food every year. WHEREAS If just one in 10 Americans used public transportation daily, U.S. reliance on foreign oil would decrease 40 percent.WHEREAS 86% of workers living in Detroit either drive or carpool. WHEREAS Riding a bus is 79 times safer than riding in an automobile, and riding a train or subway is even safer.WHEREAS Studies have shown that people who use public transportation regularly tend to be healthier than people who don’t. This is because of the exercise they get walking to and from bus stops, subway stations and their homes and offices.WHEREAS A 2006 study by the Breakthrough Technologies Institute found that a BRT system in a medium-sized U.S. city could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 650,000 tons during a 20-year period.WHEREAS Studies estimate every dollar invested in public transit returns between four and nine dollars in economic benefit as a result of the amount of jobs it creates. Every $100 million invested in public transit creates and supports roughly 4,000 jobs.WHEREAS For every $10 million invested in public transit, over $15 million is saved in transportation costs to both highway and transit users, including operating costs, fuel costs, and congestion costs.THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED We propose that there be improved public transportation systems such as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). BRT is a system of dedicated lanes along a bus route to improve the time and function of transportation. The improved function and decrease time to destination would promote the use of public transportation. BE IT RESOLVED We propose that people over the legal driving age should receive incentives for not owning a car. Incentives could be in the form of tax breaks, as well as reduced bus fair.BE IT RESOLVED To increase more efficient bus transportation methods, as well as to reduce overall construction on roads, especially highways that would cause congestion, we propose that only major streets, and not highways, have bus lanes. These major streets would only be located in towns that currently support public transportation as to not completely establish new public transportation hubs within cities.BE IT RESOLVED In these designated bus lanes, there will be a sophisticated system of traffic lights that are timed accordingly to bus traffic flow to minimize the time for a complete bus route. BE IT RESOLVED To raise the money, we propose an environmental tax on all existing cars that are not hybrid cars. The initial tax will be levied as a very small percentage of the current value of the car at .1% of the car's current value. However, a .5% tax will be implemented on all cars purchased after the tax is implemented. This will discourage the purchasing of cars, encourage the use of public transportation, and raise ample money for increased public transportation funds.
Stop Polluting the Great LakesAdam HerschenfeldWHEREAS Wetlands surrounding the Great Lakes are being lost at a rate of 20,000 acres per year. WHEREAS In 2009, there were more than 3,300 days of beach closings and advisories in the Great Lakes because bacteria levels exceeded health and safety standards. WHEREAS There are 43 areas in the Great Lakes that have been designated “Areas of Concern” because of too much pollution.WHEREAS Swimming in contaminated water can cause skin infections, intestinal problems and respiratory illnesses.WHEREAS Poisonous chemicals dumped more than fifty years ago continue to haunt the Great Lakes Basin.WHEREAS Each year, 24 billion gallons of sewage pollution are dumped into the Great Lakes. WHEREAS The 2010 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency provides $475,000,000 in funding to help improve the Great Lakes environment and eliminate invasive species.THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED New sewage systems must be established to dump garbage and other waste places other than the Great Lakes.BE IT RESOLVED The wetlands in the areas surrounding the Great Lakes should be preserved as an important part of the environment and ecosystem.BE IT RESOLVED Health and Safety standards need to be raised in order to prevent high levels of bacteria and potential harm for beach goers. BE IT RESOLVED Michigan needs to take care of their Great Lake borders by not polluting in them, but by finding a cleaner, more sanitary place to dump garbage, sewage and other waste. People need to stop polluting in the water too. Boats should try to find new technologies to reduce their emissions of pollution into the Great Lakes.BE IT RESOLVED People should be aware of the level of bacteria in any body of water they are swimming in. Also, they should be aware of the potential dangers of swimming in water such as this. BE IT RESOLVED Bacteria should be inspected at the start of each day by lifeguards to check the level of it. If it is too high, people should not be allowed to swim.BE IT RESOLVED Bacteria in the water is a long term problem, so stopping it now can lead to a much cleaner environment in the future. BE IT RESOLVED The government must use this money appropriately and utilize it to the maximum efficiency.
Mandatory Calorie Data on All MenusThea GerstenWHEREAS Obesity rates in Michigan rank 10th in the country. Approximately 30% of adults and 13% of children are obese. WHEREAS As part of the new health care legislation that President Obama signed in March, the new federal law requires restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets disclose calorie counts on their menus.WHEREAS According to the University of Michigan Health System, obesity is common enough among children that we can consider it an epidemic.WHEREAS Studies have shown a dramatic rise in the number of obese children in the last few decades in this country. Between 1980 and 2000 obesity rates doubled among children and tripled among teens.WHEREAS The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) estimates that about 112,000 deaths are associated with obesity each year in the US. WHEREAS Studies have shown that the number of calories eaten by the average American increased by 200 between 1993 and 2003, about 8%. WHEREAS According to Dr. Marion Nestle, at the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies, NYU, the average person consume 3,800 calories of food a day - 500 more calories than 30 years ago. The increased consumption of calorie-dense foods is a major cause of obesity in our country.WHEREAS The potential energy derived from food is expressed in calories. The body can match energy intake and output in terms of calorie balance, but obese people often don't eat food to match their energy expenditure - thus, they have excess caloric intake which is stored as fat. THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED Michigan should extend the limits of the recent federal law to require all restaurants (even with less than 20 outlets) to disclose calorie counts on menus. BE IT RESOLVED This should initially be focused on food establishments that reside near public schools and universities in the state as a first priority.
Requiring an Anti-Bullying Policy in SchoolsAmy DarlingWHEREAS Michigan is one of only five states that has not passed anti-bullying legislation. WHEREAS Michigan has been trying to pass anti-bullying legislation for years and has been unable to so far which means our students are suffering. WHEREAS There are three main things that need to be in place to receive the best results from an anti-bullying policy. There are education of school employees, education of students and a definition of bullying.WHEREAS An Oakland Schools survey of 200 high school students found that 84% of students said they had witnessed someone be bullied. 98% of students said they witnessed teasing. WHEREAS Since 2001, Michigan has had at least 8 students kill themselves over alleged bullying. THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED Michigan will require schools to have and enforce an anti-bullying policies that lay out the consequences for bullying. BE IT RESOLVED The anti-bullying policy must include the definition of bullying as being, "aggressive behavior that (a) is intended to cause distress or harm, (b) involves an imbalance of power or strength between the aggressor and the victim, and (c) commonly occurs repeatedly over time." BE IT RESOLVED The state of Michigan will require all school employees to undergo one work day (7 1/2 hours) of training in how to identify, prevent and deal with bullying every 3 years. This can be done through teacher in-service days within districts. BE IT RESOLVED The state of Michigan will require all schools to provide yearly training to all students on what bullying is, how it can be prevented and the consequences of bullying. This can be done through school assemblies or classroom instruction but must be documented and reported to the Michigan Department of Education. This training must take place once in September and once as a refresher in January. BE IT RESOLVED The state of Michigan continues to explore this topic through a commission that meets over the next three years to explore creating a more detailed law to protect students from bullying including cyber bullying.
Reducing School ViolenceHillary Krinick, Brittany NeelyWHEREAS Student bullying is one of the most frequently reported discipline problems at school: 21% of elementary schools, 43% of middle schools, and 22% of high schools reported problems with bullying. WHEREAS In a recent study, 77% of the students said they had been bullied. And 14% of those who were bullied said they experienced severe (bad) reactions to the abuseWHEREAS Almost 30 percent of teens in the United States (or over 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in school bullying as either a bully, a target of teen bullying, or both.WHEREAS In a recent national survey of students in grades 6 to 10, 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being the target of school bullies, and another 6 percent said they bullied others and were bullied themselves.WHEREAS Students deserve to feel safe at school. But when they experience bullying, it leads to these children having: depression, low self-esteem, health problems, poor grades, and suicidal thoughts. WHEREAS Teens (particularly boys) who bully are more likely to engage in other antisocial/delinquent behavior (e.g., vandalism, shoplifting, truancy, and drug use) into adulthood. They are four times more likely than non bullies to be convicted of crimes by age 24, with 60 percent of bullies having at least one criminal conviction.WHEREAS 160,000 kids in the United States miss school daily because of bullying. WHEREAS Although most victims of bullying in schools are too meek to take matters into their own hands, a few of them can be pushed to certain critical limits. Shooting incidents such as the 1999 Columbine High School Massacre have raised speculations that bullying in schools can lead to dire consequences.WHEREAS As of September 2009, most states in the US have laws about bullying. Bullying laws do not exist in several states, however, including Alabama, Wisconsin, and Michigan. THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED The entertainment industry needs to deemphasize violence in movies, advertising, TV shows, video games, and other outlets to reduce the stigma that bullying and violence is acceptable.BE IT RESOLVED Michigan should make sure to enforce the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services “Stop Bullying Now” campaign. This suggests that schools set aside 20 or 30 minutes of class time a week (or every other week) to discuss bullying with students. This will provide a regular forum for teachers to talk candidly to students about bullying and to get a feel for what the bullying climate is in the school. It will also help children understand what behaviors are considered bullying. School-wide assemblies on the subject can also be helpful in bringing the issue out into the open.BE IT RESOLVED The state of Michigan needs to make sure that parents and teachers have ongoing training through in-services and educational programming. Training should include explaining the nature of bullying and its effects, how to respond to bullying in the school, and how to work with others in the community to prevent bullying.
Reducing School Violence continuedBE IT RESOLVED Parents should not only be educated on the nature and signs of bullying, but also on how to be alerted if their child is a potential bully and/or prevent children from performing violent acts against others in school. This may include setting a good example, talking openly about bullying and its harmful effects with children, and getting counseling for children who have a persistent pattern of bullying to reveal underlying causes of the behavior. BE IT RESOLVED In the last four years, more than 40,000 students have attended school violence assemblies hosted by the Delaware Department of Justice. Michigan should require assemblies like these to inform students about the dangers and consequences that can result from school violence. BE IT RESOLVED School crime toll-free hotlines should be instituted as a resource for parents, teachers, and students to call if they believe their school isn't responding properly to concerns or incidents of violence. Programs like the "Keep My School Safe" initiative in Delaware should provide telephone numbers and information about the service in school brochures to encourage students to use the number any time they know information that might cause them alarm or worry.
No MIP for Intoxicated Individuals if 911 is CalledJared Evans, Zachary PatzikWHEREAS According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die every year from alcohol-related causes. WHEREAS Students are less likely to call 911 if their friend is severely intoxicated for fear of getting their friend a MIP.WHEREAS Current Michigan law classifies an MIP as a misdemeanor charge that carries a $400 fine. WHEREAS 28.9% of Michigan youth between the ages of 12-20 have consumed alcohol in the past month and 19.1% have binge drank in the past month. If 1/5 of Michigan youth are binge drinking they should be protected from an MIP if they get too intoxicated to protect their life.WHEREAS Approximately 476,000 underage youth in Michigan drink each year.WHEREAS Currently if 911 is called to provide medical attention to an intoxicated individual, an ambulance and the police arrive to both provide medical care and give this individual an MIP. THEREFORE,BE IT RESOLVED Should someone call 911 because their friend is too intoxicated, the extremely intoxicated individual should be taken to the hospital by an ambulance but protected from police intervention and consequently protected from an MIP. BE IT RESOLVED The hospital experience and humiliation should serve as a deterrent to future binge drinking.BE IT RESOLVED Minor deaths related to alcohol will decrease because of the increased likelihood of medical attention being requested when necessary. BE IT RESOLVED Those who are in control or not too intoxicated learn an invaluable lesson in responsibility without putting a peer or themselves in criminal jeopardy. BE IT RESOLVED To increase awareness about this new protection for minors when medical attention is necessary, an email would be sent to all public and private institutions in Michigan as well as a letter distributed to all homes in Michigan outlining the new law.
Helping Environment and Health Through 1 Small Switch - Amy DarlingTry Not To Drive - Elizabeth KutcheyBattery Collection and Recycling Drive - Scott KestenbaumReuse Water Bottle Week - David LakinSend Thanks to Soldiers - Richard AbdySave Paper Month - Allyson Lundy, Robyn Segal