Student Group Promotes Voter Registration And Student Bill Of Rights

Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) has been running voter registration campaigns in Racine Unified high schools and working on a student bill of rights. But you might be surprised how closely intertwined the group is with the pro-labor movement.

Handmade posters hung on the walls at last week encouraging students of legal voting age to register.

In the past, an outside organizations reminded students to register to vote, but this year things are different as a student group called Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) is behind the voter registration drive.

The trend of mobilizing young voters has worked well for Democracts since young voters tend to vote for Democratic candidates, but a blog called BigGovernment said YES is a "leftist movement group." But students and organizers said YES is a student social justice group affiliated with Voces de La Frontera and the group has 12 chapters in Milwaukee- and Racine-area high schools and three universities.

Mike Jensen, a teacher at JI Case High School and advisor for YES, said the group is creating a student bill of rights for the school district, registering voters, building awareness of social justice issues and helping to make schools safer.

The group was created in its current form about two years ago at Horlick High School when two groups, Students United for Immigrant Rights (SUFRIR) and Students United in the Struggle (SUITS) merged and created one group that included everyone. SUFRIR was started in 2004 and was an extension of a Latino American history class at .

“They (the two groups) realized that they were doing a lot of similar things and they wanted it to be more inclusive to all people of all nationalities and ethnicities,” Jensen said.

In addition to registering voters, YES members have been working on a three-page student bill of rights. The group attended a summit with several Milwaukee-area high school students that featured workshops on how they wanted to develop the student bill of rights, which will be presented to the Racine Unified School Board next month.

Maria Fuerte and Julia Maciel, both students at Case, said their math teacher recommended that they get involved in the group.

“I like fighting for what is right instead of just going against it,” Fuerte said.

“I liked the meaning of it and we’re working on the Student Bill of Rights; it’s really important for the students to get involved,” Maciel said.

The student bill of rights focuses on several topics including: school safety and discipline, class sizes, bilingual education, freedom from discrimination, and life after school. The document also includes language that is pro-union, including students having “a right to a school environment where all teachers and staff have the right to collectively bargain” and was approved by the REA, the local teachers’ union, Jensen said.

“We got REA approval at the last representative assembly that we had,” Jensen said. “We had a few of the students from YES attend and speak on behalf of it and it was passed pretty substantially. The REA is standing behind it (the student bill of rights). We’re trying to introduce it at the school board.”

Jensen explained that while the students already have a code of conduct in their school handbook, the student bill of rights is coming from the students themselves.

Sam Kohlmann, a student at Case who helped work on the document, said having a voice in how his school operates is important.

“A young person who doesn’t have a vote doesn’t really have a voice and doesn’t have much of a say because we’re not 18 and can’t vote,” Kohlmann said “But if we all come together and we can get stuff passed. It’s a way to get some power. This group gives us credibility so that we’re not being pushed around. You have to stick up for what you think is right…with this group you can actually make that happen.”

Last week the group made the posters promoting an afterschool voter registration drive and about 20 students, who were eligible to vote, had registered. Jensen doesn’t know how many 18-year-old students attend Case, but he feels the group is making a good dent in getting more students registered.

“I feel like even if we signed up just one, we’d be successful,” Jensen said. “I think we’re getting students that think voting is really cool – regardless of their political beliefs.”

Tim Scott March 19, 2012 at 11:36 AM
It's nice that the children are involved - what's troubling is the politics of the radical adults whom they find themselves being indoctrinated by. These youth leaders DEMAND taxpayer funding for their policies and programs, while the policies and programs they promote dstroy the tax base and societal structures in place. It's called Revolution by another means. No problem with the Voter ID stuff - that's great. It's what comes after that. Horlick H.S. students, here are some examples of what happens to Socialist Countries that do not respect Private Property Rights; demand private enterprise fund a large and intruisive government; and allow free immigration: Clearly, the FAILED Socialist model of Greece is NOT the way to go. Unfortunately, the radical leaders of Voces De La Frontera promote those failed policies:
Tim Scott March 19, 2012 at 11:41 AM
"Drastic cuts in unemployment and other benefits go into effect this week, despite a government pledge to protect the jobless. The 22 percent cut in the minimum wage was approved by parliament last month, resulted in corresponding benefit cuts at the state employment agency (OAED), with monthly unemployment pay dropping from 461 to 360 euros, and payment for the long-term unemployed being reduced from 200 to 156 euros. Family support for low-income households dropped from 98 to 77 euros. The measure has worsened hardship for hundreds of thousands of people on benefits, with unemployment at 21 percent in December, with 1,033,507 officially out of work that month." http://www.athensnews.gr/portal/1/53994 Lesson ONE: It's better to have a limited government that protects private property rights, has low taxes, and is composed of people with a private enterprise entrepreneurial spitrit. Running out of other peoples money to fund a life of leisure and luxury on the fruits of other mens labor sucks. (ask Lyle)
Conservativa March 19, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Somehow these kids need to get the complete picture. They have only been sold the propaganda of the left. They need to learn out freedom and right to help the poor through private charity versus government be all, end all.
Tim Scott March 19, 2012 at 11:51 AM
TRUTH shared from the failed Socialist Government of Great Britian: In a stark warning ahead of next month’s Budget, the Chancellor said there was little the Coalition could do to stimulate the economy. Mr Osborne made it clear that due to the parlous state of the public finances the best hope for economic growth was to encourage businesses to flourish and hire more workers. “The British Government has run out of money because all the money was spent in the good years,” the Chancellor said. “The money and the investment and the jobs need to come from the private sector.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9107485/George-Osborne-UK-has-run-out-of-money.html NOW - that the North Sea Oil Fields are depleting, and government taxation has stolen all the wealth in the land and redistributed it - Britian faces economic collapse. There is NO more money, and nobody wants to work. There is very little productive private enterprise available - so there are no funds available for the public sector. This is another example of another unhealthy Socialist Practice. When you run out of other peoples money - the party stops!
Tim Scott March 19, 2012 at 11:55 AM
"However, Mr Osborne will announce plans to roll out local pay rates affecting six million public sector workers — including teachers and hospital staff — from next year. Officials will begin negotiating local pay deals with most civil servants after they reach the end of a two-year pay freeze in July, with any pay settlements likely to be backdated to February. The move could result in the pay of public sector workers in some areas being frozen for a number of years." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/budget/9149748/National-pay-rates-will-be-scrapped-in-budget.html Look at California !! "More than 20,000 public school teachers in California opened their mailboxes over the last few days to find a pink slip inside as districts met the state's Thursday deadline for dispensing the dreaded news to the educators that they may not have a job in the fall. "Though the very future of our state depends on California's teachers ... (they) will now spend months in limbo, worrying about their futures and the future of their students," state Superintendent Tom Torlakson in a statement. The layoff notices were sent to teachers, librarians and others in schools all over California. Not many districts found a way to skirt the deadline." Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/15/MNHK1NL9RC.DTL#ixzz1pYy1r0TS
Tim Scott March 19, 2012 at 12:01 PM
What happens with socialized medicine when you demand doctors, nurses, and other intelligent and hard working people in a society are forced to work for very little reward and free loaders are everywhere? "When the money runs out: cases of HIV, TB, and malaria explode in Greece, ‘health system near collapse’" That's why the radical programs espoused by the Left, like Lyle's "I Won't Pay" agenda must be rejected! March 15, 2012 – GREECE - The incidence of HIV/Aids among intravenous drug users in central Athens soared by 1,250% in the first 10 months of 2011 compared with the same period the previous year, according to the head of Médecins sans Frontières Greece, while malaria is becoming endemic in the south for the first time since the rule of the colonels. Reveka Papadopoulos said that following savage cuts to the national health service budget, including heavy job losses and a 40% reduction in funding for hospitals, Greek social services were “under very severe strain, if not in a state of breakdown. What we are seeing are very clear indicators of a system that cannot cope.”
Tim Scott March 19, 2012 at 12:03 PM
The heavy, horizontal and “blind” budget cuts coincided last year with a 24% increase in demand for hospital services, she said, “largely because people could simply no longer afford private healthcare. The entire system is deteriorating.”The extraordinary increase in HIV/Aids among drug users, due largely to the suspension or cancellation of free needle exchange program, has been accompanied by a 52% increase in the general population. “We are also seeing transmission between mother and child for the first time in Greece,” she said. “This is something we are used to seeing in sub-Saharan Africa, not Europe. There has also been a sharp increase in cases of tuberculosis in the immigrant population, cases of Nile fever – leading to 35 deaths in 2010 – and the reappearance of endemic malaria in several parts of Greece, notably the south.” According to Papadopoulos, such sharp increases in communicable diseases are indicative of a system nearing breakdown. " http://theextinctionprotocol.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/when-the-money-runs-out-cases-of-hiv-tb-and-malaria-explode-in-greece-health-system-near-collapse/ FREE Healthcare for all/socialized medicine result in NO HEALTH CARE FOR ANYONE and the status of a Third World Nation.
Tim Scott March 19, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Personal Rights = Personal Responsibility, respect for private property rights and an industrious population is what is needed. Not free stuff for everybody - it doesn't last long. Here would be a cool school project - to watch the collapse of Detroit - and learn why Socialism doesn't work: "DETROIT -- There is no doubt that Michigan soon will take effective control of Detroit, one way or another. The city is on the brink of financial collapse. Detroit expects to run out of cash to pay its bills in April or May. Borrowing more money isn't an option. The city is $33 in debt for every $1 it has in assets. There are more than twice as many city retirees drawing pensions and health-care coverage as there are city employees. None of this is a surprise. Michigan law says when a city can't pay its bills, the state has to take over." http://www.toledoblade.com/JackLessenberry/2012/03/16/Detroit-officials-fiddle-while-city-burns-through-cash.html
Tim Scott March 19, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Meanwhile - where is the Voice of the People of Racine? John T. Dickert is being sued and the Residents of Racine are paying for it? Is that what you want your parents to work for? Will you allow John T. Dickert to take money that could go to your education and teachers and use it to defend his mouth? Is that an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars? Rally for Personal Responsibility and Government Accountability on March 21, 2012. Starting around 12:30p.m. - Kenosha County Courthouse William Bielefeldt vs. John T Dickert et al Racine County Case Number 2011CV001078 Motion Hearing: Branch 3 Courtroom 203; 2:00p.m. befor Judge Bruce E. Schroeder. Demand that public money be used responsibly ane to benefit all - not special private interests.
Heather in Caledonia March 19, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I love that they have to bring an ID! :) I think it's great that these students are interested in their community. Even though I don't agree with the politics of the groups instructing these children, I still think it's important to pay attention to what is happening in the world. It is funny that they think it's beneficial to them that their teachers are forced to join a union, though. :) Let's hope that the school board acts like the adults they are when they receive this "bill of rights." They should thank the children for their work and interest and file it. Those under 18 are still officially children and any official changes to policies impacting the district need to go through adults. As for making schools safer: the students need to address that with each other!! It used to be that bullies got what was coming to them if they kept picking on kids. Now, the parents get involved and the child is not held accountable. The students tolerate gangs, anti-social behavior, an atmosphere that degrades those who want to learn, etc. If they believe they are mature enough to take on the issue of unions in the school district, they should be mature enough to get their peers in line. SHOW us. Tim, thanks for posting this information, but my guess is that none of the kids involved in that group are reading this. Pity.
Sandy March 19, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Heather, nicely put on what the students responsibility needs to be with their own peers! with the liberal minded views being taught its hard to tell kids anything. I love that there is a way for these kids to register but am frustrated that they think voting democratic means voting for freedom. They need to be taught to get the facts first and get them from the right places. To know the truthful facts and how those facts impact everyone, no matter how ugly those facts may be should be the main goal. Teach them that and you will have way more responsible voters.
Tuco March 19, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Interesting the students are getting involved. Commendable! But let's not forget WHY they are in school in the first place...formal EDUCATION! Yes you can argue this group is a walk through the education process, but then let's let both sides in and tell both sides of the story. I do not condone the politics of one side being represented. Obviously the students are unaware or do not have resources tot eh other side. I think it would open some eyes. Maybe sending some of Tim Scott's links to their next meeting would open an eye or two. Heather, please take off the rose colored glasses! (sarcasm!) I agree completely with you. Somewhere I heard an old saying about removing the spec in ones own eye before the tree in anothers. Appropriate to the schools. It's a sad affair that a minority of students can disrupt the majority. and as another old saying says "Our tax dollar hard at work." I have to wonder how these students are doing in school. What are their grades? Are they going up, down or staying the same? What's their GPA? What's their attendance rate? I'm glad to see some are registering to vote using IDs. Hopefully they will look at both sides of the issue before voting and not vote because a teacher said to vote this way!
mau March 19, 2012 at 07:21 PM
Why is partisan, union politicking, being allowed on taxpayer funded property. The teacher's unions aren't supposed to be playing politics on school property or time, but they are able to manipulate it through the students. Are they allowing Christian groups to be handing out materials and putting posters on the walls too?
Brian Dey March 19, 2012 at 11:07 PM
It is not supposed to. This effort has been shut down before.
Stormy Weather March 20, 2012 at 03:34 AM
Brian - What can parents do about this? I was at Case HS recently and heard the announcement about registering to vote. And why is this being allowed? "The document also includes language that is pro-union, including students having “a right to a school environment where all teachers and staff have the right to collectively bargain”
Brian Dey March 20, 2012 at 05:31 AM
I suggest contacting Dr. Laing and Board members, as well as media. Until the heat is put on to stop this, it will continue. In the meantime, I plan on bringing this up as well as the illegal campaigning that took place prior to the primary with the district attorney.
morninmist March 20, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Good job students. Do not let anyone bully or intimidate you.
James R Hoffa March 20, 2012 at 06:01 PM
"“We got REA approval at the last representative assembly that we had,” Jensen said. “We had a few of the students from YES attend and speak on behalf of it and it was passed pretty substantially. The REA is standing behind it (the student bill of rights)."" Why was this even done? What purpose did doing this serve? Doesn't this make it appear as if these students are being manipulated towards a leftist political ideology? If the students want to organize and advocate a certain viewpoint - fine, more power to them so long as the school provides an equal opportunity for all viewpoints and the staff is kept from interfering and manipulating such groups. But this is almost reminiscent of the MK Ultra program, isn't it? Do any conservative leaning student groups exist within the RUSD system? If so, are they allowed an equal opportunity to display propaganda, hold meetings, and advocate their positions? "“They (the two groups) realized that they were doing a lot of similar things and they wanted it to be more inclusive to all people of all nationalities and ethnicities,” Jensen said." Why are ethnically segregated groups even allowed? What if a student wanted to start a white advocacy group - would that be allowed or tolerated by the district? What are the missions of these ethnically segregated groups? So many questions and so few forthcoming answers!
PJS March 20, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Dont know whats going on at Case HS these days, but I did go there. But those turning 18 shortly will vote and however there life and there families lives have been affected will determine who they vote for. My going to be 18 yr old and alot of her friends families were affected by the current Govna and cant wait to vote for a new one and a new Senator that is not a clone of him. Good for them.
Lyle Ruble March 20, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Here we go again, load up the manure spreader with ultraconservative BS and start spreading it liberally on a report where 18 year old young adults are exercising their constitutional rights. No one should care whether they are left leaning or right leaning, they are becoming responsible citizens. It's just like conservatives to get their underwear all in a bunch the minute young people start to create interest groups, LGBT, Save the Whales, Greenpeace, etc. The standard answer ,we don't mind them organizing interest groups as long as we approve of them.
PJS March 20, 2012 at 11:36 PM
good one Lyle!
Brian Dey March 21, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Lyle, if this group is using government facilities or staff, it is illegal, period. I don't care if they support dems, or Republican. That is state law.
Brian Dey March 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Does that include the union (leadership) thugs?
upset father March 21, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Brian you can count on my vote .


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