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Making Civics Real Workshop 2: Electoral Politics  
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Workshop 2

Workshop Session
Lesson Plan
Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
Essential Readings
Other Lessons

Student Perspectives: The issues

Tremayne: The subject that we’re doing is education. Today we went over dropout rates, graduation rates, and percentages of people that go to college. We dealt with how the students felt and how parents felt. We did surveys and we did a lot of background research to find out where [Newark] needs to be to compete on a national level. We found out that Newark is seriously behind. So what we are trying to do is see what the new mayor can do that will have us on an even playing field.

Quadir: I went to the Internet and searched for the average graduation rate of the country and searched for what the graduation rate of Newark was compared to the dropout rate and the SAT scores. It surprised me that Newark was only 40 percent and the average graduation rate for the country was 70 percent and that Newark was 30 percent lower than what the country was.

Ebony: I did recreation. We started out with a survey. It was fun to do because we just threw out a whole bunch of ideas--like swimming pools in schools--because we always used to say it would be fun if we had a swimming pool in the building. There are a lot of recreation centers that we are involved in. So it was not that hard for us to do. We surveyed 51 people. Because our school is majority girls, we did 34 girls and 17 guys. But we still got a consensus of what everybody wanted. We had questions like about youth-sponsored events for senior citizens and a lot of kids were for it, but then there were a few who didn’t want anything to do with old people. Every single person that we surveyed voted that they would like more community festivals because that’s the only time you will see everyone you know in one place and it’s all positive, no fights. We make a mess of the streets but it’s nice afterwards to see everybody cleaning it up. It gives everybody a chance to get together again for positive reason, to be outside for a good reason, not just standing on a corner. We were deciding on what there is already--the good things--and then what we wish there was--things that our younger sisters and brothers and even our kids can have and do that we didn’t have. One thing we wish is that the parks looked better. We go to play games and stuff and the parks are kind of like…ugh. So we decided we want them to be improved. It was important for us to do a survey because we wanted to get everyone’s opinion on how they felt and what they wanted. I didn’t want to be selfish and say this is what we want. We wanted to make sure that we had a consensus so we could speak for a larger group of people than just ourselves.

Kerron: The focus of my group was on housing and neighborhood issues. We branched out to different issues than housing and neighborhoods. Like we weren’t necessarily concerned with housing, we were concerned with how safe the streets were, how the sidewalks were paved, and if the houses were stable and in good condition to live in. We looked up how many housing projects they’ve torn down and replaced with the new economic-sized houses and we also looked around the city and observed what streets were damaged the worst. The thing that most interested me was the streets in the neighborhoods. Before we even began doing research or I ever heard of this project or Student Voices, I always noticed how terrible the streets were and how drug-infested the neighborhoods were. When this project came about, I had my chance to voice my opinion.

Maysa: Our topic was teen employment in the City of Newark. You look at other people and they have this and they have that and I’m sure everyone desires to have something more than what they have. So we felt that employment in Newark is a main focus because regardless of what you say, you do worry about what people feel as far as like clothing and your hair. Girls want to look nice and the guys want to look nice for the girls. It’s a need but it’s also a want. So our focus was on employment and we showed the class our research based on students who go to University High School. We surveyed 95 students on whether or not they worked in Newark and if they made more than $6.50 (which is actually not minimum wage, it’s $5.25) and who was able to work with the Mayor’s Office of Employment Training because that’s the program that they offer in the summer for teens to have a job. We made a circle graph to show that the majority of students that do have jobs in Newark don’t make more than $6.50.

Samuel: Our group was looking at issues in the community from the small stuff like a pothole here and there to the major issues of drugs in the community and preventing drugs from getting into the community. What I’ve learned from it is that there are all these different channels. You may want something to be done but it’s going to take time and it may not be done when you want it to be done.


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