Spring 2009 Newsletter Articles

YLI Mock Election and E-Congress See High Success
Record participation in civics education programs

The November 2008 election was a record breaker for youth voter participation. Not only did turnout among voters aged 18-24 increase over the 2004 election, but many states recorded higher youth participation than the nation has seen in decades. Election Day turnout among young people was especially exciting for all of us at the Center for Politics. As many readers are aware, the Centerís Youth Leadership Initiative has grown exponentially over the last decade. And while we wouldn't begin to take all the credit for last year's turnout statistics, it does underscore what we've always believed: young people will participate in a system that encourages and promotes their participation.

2008 was a record-breaking year for the YLI Mock Election as well. Just days before the general election, we closed our electronic polls nationwide after recording the votes of over one million students from every state, the District of Columbia, and defense schools abroad. Teachers in schools across the nation and around the world used the YLI resources to engage elementary through secondary level students. Resources including a special election-countdown calendar, mock election toolkits, and lesson plans on politics and current events underscored the need for civics education to be an ďAll Year, Every Year" endeavor.

YLI e-Congress:

After the polls close, the work of the Youth Leadership doesn't end. Instead, we switch the focus from campaigns and elections to governing and policymaking.

This spring tens of thousands of students from across the country are taking on the role of legislators as they participate in our annual YLI e-Congress. Right now students are actively analyzing the legislative process and conducting research to author their own piece of original legislation, which will be submitted to YLI. That's when the real excitement for the students begins.

YLIís e-Congress uses advanced technology to link the student e-legislators with their student peers nationwide. Participants discuss and debate proposed legislation, and hopefully reach a compromise or consensus within a classroom committee structure aimed at simulating the true congressional process. The "magic" of the YLI e-Congress occurs when students receive constructive criticism not just from their fellow schoolmates, but from their peers all across the United States. Together, this national network of young minds works through the process of getting their bills to the House Floor. After classroom committee debate, participants assemble on the virtual house floor to vote on passed legislation. Adopted legislation is published on the YLI website, and each receives a congratulatory certificate from the Youth Leadership Initiative.

This FREE online program is available each spring via the website, www.youthleadership.net. The e-Congress has been recognized as a valuable project by the National Council for Social Studies and Online Education and is aligned to state-standards for civics and government. The 2009 e-Congress opened on January 8th and will be in session through the beginning of April. Check with your local middle or high school to see if they are participating!

"I love what you guys do, itís absolutely invaluable and so well organized! I cannot say enough good things about howworthwhile the entire simulation is in my classroom.

Itís experiential and easy to use Ė my students really liked it as well. Thank you very much for all your time and effort in running this activity."

-Jill Dondero
Riverwood High School
Atlanta, GA



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