About 120 New York City high school students are blogging in organized ways about the city’s forthcoming mayoral election.
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Contact: Cara Cea, 914-906-9680, firstname.lastname@example.org
120 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS BLOGGING ABOUT NYC POLITICAL RACES DURING INNOVATIVE, YEAR-LONG POLITICAL LITERACY PROJECT
PACE UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND PROFESSOR ACTING AS MENTORS
NEW YORK, NY, October 20, 2009 – About 120 New York City high school students are blogging in organized ways about the city’s forthcoming mayoral election.
Bill Thompson’s ad strategy? “At first, the fact that he was from Brooklyn was an interesting fact about him, but he seems to use it too much to gain support of people from the lower classes.”
Michael Bloomberg’s? “He states that he rides the subway and walks down the street which makes it seem like he is walking in our shoes. Bloomberg is saying that he is just like us.”
Politics buffs and others interested in tuning in on what the students think can visit http://vote18plp.ning.com/.
The students are being encouraged by their classroom teachers at Pace High School, a new “small” public school with which Pace is a partner, and in the Upward Bound program housed at Pace University. The students and their classmates get significant mentoring from three Pace undergraduates and their professor, Pace political scientist Christopher Malone, an innovator in ways to stoke civic interest in young people.
The project is using materials developed by Vote 18, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that over the last four years has organized civics lessons around short, simulated elections in high schools from New York State’s Hamptons to El Paso and Los Angeles. Curriculum materials and stipends for the Pace student mentors are funded by a grant to Pace from the Verizon Foundation’s Thinkfinity program, which develops technological resources in education.
Issues and ad wars
The high school students taking part in the “Political Literacy Project” come from a cross-section of city neighborhoods. One group attends Pace High School in Chinatown; the other is part of Upward Bound, a federally funded program that serves high school students from low-income families and families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree. The goal of Upward Bound is to increase the rates at which participants finish secondary education and enroll in and graduate from postsecondary institutions.
The Political Literacy Project is unfolding in several phases. It kicked off in September with a civics lesson on the importance of voting taught by Vote 18’s Executive Director and Co-Founder Marco Ceglie. In the weeks before the mayor’s vote, the 120 students who have been designated “Political Literacy Reporters” are analyzing the mayoral election in their blog posts from four different perspectives: the issues, the ad wars, media coverage of the campaign, and candidates’ attacks on each other. The goal is to give the reporters a solid grounding in all aspects of a political campaign.
In November, the Political Literacy Reporters will shift their attention to every kind of elected office in New York City. They will report on officeholders ranging from city council members, district attorneys, U.S. senators, members of Congress and the governor to state assembly members and borough presidents. The students get weekly questions to blog about, growing out of their experiences, issues and class discussions.
By the time the project concludes in May, the 2010 New York State governor’s race will be in full swing, which is where the students will end their year-long civic engagement.
“One argument about nonparticipation among youth is that they don’t know the first thing about the political process, and so they tune out,” said Malone. “The Political Literacy Project gives these young people a sustained experience in political participation so they’ll have the tools they need to become effective citizens when they turn 18. I believe this curriculum could be duplicated nationwide and help our youngest citizens become literate about politics.”
As one student wrote, “I think it’s cool how in today’s world politicians are getting ‘hip’ to technology.”
Clearly the students are, too.
About Pace University
For 103 years Pace University has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lienhard School of Nursing, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu
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