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13 June 2001


Well - a very long time between newsletters! I have been traveling extensively in the past few months, speaking at several conferences and attending others. It's been fun but the newsletters have suffered. Many important events have occurred and some will be discussed here and some... I know you all have kept current! And.... there are lots of activism opportunities to report as well!
By now, it's apparent that the Thursday, 24 May decision by Senator James Jeffords of Vermont to leave the Republican Party and declare himself an Independent was historic in that the decision dramatically shifted the balance of power in the Senate where 50 senators had been Democratic, 50 were Republican and the deciding vote in any straight party vote would be that of the Republican Vice-President, Dick Cheney. Now, even though Senator Jeffords did not become a Democrat, the fact that he left the Republicans changes the Senate to 49 Republicans and 50 Democrats, establishing a new majority to take over the leadership/chairmanship positions on all Senatorial committees.
From Friday, 25 May, 2001's Los Angeles Times, quoting Ross K. Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University: "The Republicans have learned that there are limits to presidential coercion of senators who really do have constituencies that are more friendly to them than to the president."
What does this mean???? Senator Jeffords' decision, responding to his own ethics and what he felt was the directive of his Vermont constituency who had elected him already to three terms of office, spoke for a voice of "moderation" that he felt was not being heard in the present administration. It is an effective lesson that the people's voice must be heard. This is not the first time members of Congress have left their party. For a terrific explanation of what it means to be an "Independent", how a Senator actually DOES change party affiliation and the mechanics, including the recall petition option: See also
on the need for ANY administration to be aware that they must always be attentive to the voice of the people.
The above may be old news to you but the significance of this move is going to be far-reaching as our President and legislators respond to this shift in order for legislation, appointments and policy to be passed. Participate in what it going on in our Capitol. You can do this by your vote (the 2002 Congressional elections will be crucial) by email and letter support or constructive comments on the actions of your legislators on those issues that concern you, from the environment, to taxes, to education. Get or stay involved and our country will be even more effective.

For those new to this newsletter, I am the author of TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD, a new issue-oriented book for young Americans on civic and political activism. Engagement is integral to our democracy and youth and young voters - citizens and residents already - definitely have the voice, power, intelligence, sense of justice, passion and energy to give the benefit of their participation right now! My website and this newsletter provide updates on current issues along with resources for change.


A. New stuff about TEEN POWER POLITICS!!!
B. More Current News & Concerns.
C. Make Yourself Heard! Opportunities for Involvement
D. More Youth Activism
E. Resource Articles That I Am Reading


1. TPP's been honored by VOYA - "Voice of Youth Advocates", as one of 25 books included in their "Sixth Annual Nonfiction Honor List"! I am invited to a lovely reception at ALA (the American Library Association Conference) in San Francisco this weekend and will see the book displayed with the other honorees!
VOYA's fully annotated list of honor books will be published in their August issue. The mission of this respected bimonthly journal for librarians, educators, and other professionals working with young adults: "to identify the social myths that keep us from serving young people and replace them with knowledge."

2. TPP is also included in Back Street College's highly respected "The Best Children's Books of the Year."

3. In May, I gave a keynote luncheon speech to the State Directors of KidsVoting USA at their national conference in Phoenix. Before my own presentation, I sat in on several workshops where I heard the incredible work this curriculum-based program is doing, with Secretaries of States, to school and community leaders in ensuring that the principles of voting and knowledge of the power of electoral system is an essential element in what I call the "toolkit of democracy". Check out these activities and see what you can do as students in your schools to use the KidsVoting principles and/or program at


1. A "wake-up call". In the last few weeks we have read that the United States has been booted off their seat on the United Nations' Human Rights Commission. This is the result of the our continued refusal in part to pay for UN services abroad. It is foolish behavior and frightening to think that our support is so little these days in the face of global concerns.

a. Thomas L. Friedman in "American Snubbing of the United Nations Is Silly" ( writes: "The fact is, the world is full of problems that touch America, that the United Nations handles - problems related to childhood diseases, which Unicef addresses; problems of poverty in Africa, which the UNDP addresses; problems of refugees, which the UNHCR addresses; and problems related to AIDS, which are coordinated by UNAIDS. Also, there are now 16 UN peacekeeping missions.
For the past decade, [poorer countries] do UN peacekeeping to earn extra cash, and have been paying the salaries of the UN peacekeepers themselves, while waiting for years for the United States to pay its dues. So the world's richest country has been taking interest-free loans from the world's poorest, dollar-a-day economies. ... All these problems would exist whether the United Nations were there or not. What it provides 95 percent of the time is a body for coordinating the response to problems that the United States cares about. And it does it in a way that ensures that the burden of costs is shared, so that America doesn't have to pay alone, and that the burden of responsibility is shared, so that wars America wants fought, or the peace accords America wants kept, have a global stamp of approval, not made-in-USA."

b. And, as if we don't have enough examples of global child welfare issues, read today's (Wed, 13 June) LA Times article on the 300,000 + children in 41 countries who, from as young as 7 who are often captured and forced to serve in their nation's military. (See the underlying report from the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers )

a. A recent report, " Justice by Gender: The Lack of Appropriate Prevention, Diversion and Treatment Alternatives for Girls in the Justice System," by the ABA's Juvenile Justice Center ( speaks to the special circumstances - sexual and physical abuse, familial substance abuse, domestic violence, depression, "get tough" policies - for girls that sends them into the system and often into even worse conditions, adult transfers contributing to more in prison than juvenile halls.

b. A related issue: recently the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports stated violent crime was once again up in America. BUT their information-gathering procedures were not comprehensive. Today's news will report on the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey, stating that violent crime DROPPED almost 15% last year - the largest one-year decline ever recorded since the survey began in 1971!!!!! Property crime also fell 10%. From the press release: "Almost every demographic group identified in the survey--including males, females, whites, blacks, Hispanics, non-Hispanics and 12-to-24-year-olds experienced less violent crime in 2000 than they did during l999."

As mentioned, I am a part of the Communications Task Force of a new coalition still forming, the Campaign to Defend America's Environment. This is a strong non-partisan campaign with many diverse organizations and people who are joining together for one main purpose: ensure that over 30 years of environmental progress in the United States (and beyond) continues. (More about this later. The initial website is being redone although you can still take the pledge to protect the environment there at

a. We recently heard from California State Sen. Deborah Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) whose page on "Understanding California's Energy Crisis" along with charts (click to see them) is truly informative and lists the various reasons why we out here (but instructive to the whole country) are experiencing an energy shortage now.

b. Ever creative in their activism opportunities, MoveOn.Org is promoting an Internet idea, ROLL YOUR OWN BLACKOUT THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER June 21, 2001 Thursday eve, 7:00-10:00 P.M., all time zones. Tell others know and let MoveOn know if you plan to participate They will keep the press alerted to response!
Here's what's being said: "In protest of the current energy policies and lack of emphasis on efficiency, conservation and alternative fuels, there will be a voluntary rolling blackout on the first day of summer, June 21 from 7 P.M. - 10 P.M. in all time zones (this will create a blackout that "rolls" across the planet.) ... a simple protest and a symbolic act. Turn out your lights and unplug anything in your home that you safely can. Light a candle, tell ghost stories, or whatever you want to do, instead of watching television. Have fun in the dark".

c. Healthy Schools. It's beyond obvious that the environment in which students live for a substantial portion of their day affects their learning abilities as well as their health. But it's not been so good lately. Look below to see what you can do!
* Healthy Schools Network, their statistics and links at
*I recently met with the most incredible high school students, members of SC-YEA (South Central Youth Empowered Through Action), part of the Community Coalition in South Los Angeles that works hard to clean up and revitalize their area (get rid of the liquor stores, fight for the neighborhood rights). Through SC-YEA, these youth worked recently and successfully with LAUSD to reallocate to their schools a substantial portion of the $2.4 billion allocated for school improvement but destined primarily for wealthier suburbs, especially after they found that their initial allocation was to be first for new iron window grates and high fences - keeping them in - instead of replacing the rusting and leaking bathroom pipes, fixing exposed electrical wiring, or replacing the ceiling tiles that were falling upon student's heads - helping them learn! SC-YEA teens convinced the citizen committee responsible for oversight of $2.4 billion dollars for funds from Proposition Better Buildings (BB) to add $153 million dollars for additional school repairs.
*Conditions have gotten so bad that California youth have in Williams et al., v. State of California (mentioned in previous newsletters) citing degraded, unhealthy facilities and conditions among the justification for this massive class action suit to require that even the "bare minimums" be accorded to students.

4. Many of you may not have yet graduated high school and the word "taxes" may not seem relevant yet. "Parenthood" even less! BUT according to a Dept. of Agriculture report, child rearing costs over a 17-year period for a child born last year is projected at $121,230 for low-income families; middle-income families $165,630; and upper-income families $241,770 (higher with inflation). The cost will increase in the future. ( So when there are reports that the rebates promised in the recent tax bill are missing at least 25% of adults, know that current legislation can affect your future earnings!!! ("Tax Rebate Will Bypass Many, Study Finds"


1. I have had lots of interesting conversations with Scott Beale, a 25 year-old who is starting to write his book, MILLENNIAL POLITICS. I will be contributing an essay to the book as one of the "non-millennials" and have been in deep conversations already with Scott. What I love, he is out there on the internet looking for youth to contribute as well, both in terms of essays, information and through his active open web forums on millennial issues ("25 and under"). In the next few weeks I'll be linking to the chat and entering into the various discussions. I truly love the idea of ONE PLACE for all of us to talk and would rather send all of you there and back from my site so we can all get into this together. Check out Scott's site at

2. If you are interested about " global citizen cooperation and earth stewardship", here is a great place for you to be: "Global Response empowers people of all ages, cultures, and nationalities to protect the environment by creating partnerships for effective citizen action. At the request of indigenous peoples and grassroots organizations, Global Response organizes urgent international letter campaigns to help communities prevent many kinds of environmental destruction." I am a member of the Freedom To Write section of PEN-USA West and have learned how effective letter campaigns can be, in my case attempting to bring better conditions to writers who have been persecuted as a result of their literary work.

3. Feeling benevolent? Apropos of tax relief above, Third Millennium, one of the very active Youth Vote Coalition members, has come up with the very cool idea of donating the rebate (if you get one) to your favorite charity., gives a donation pitch and links to, a site collecting donations by credit card and passes them along to your charity of choice. Whether or not you favor the new tax bill, Richard Thau, Third Millennium's director, says "Here is your opportunity to finance the cause that you think the government should have funded in your stead ... or ... If you favor the tax rebate, here is your chance to act on your belief in helping people help themselves."

4. INSTANT ACTIVISM!!!! The Breast Cancer site wants to meet its quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. Go to their site & click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle). Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate a mammogram in exchange for advertising ... just like the hunger site mentioned in previous newsletters!

5. CosmoGirl, Seventeen. Magazines yes devoted to fashion but often with terrific articles on issues affecting young women. Some of their recent issues (also online) have featured articles and links on school facilities, the drug war and politics. Right now, Cosmo Girl is looking for young women who have made change for their December 2001 CosmoGirl of the year. Make change by example. Enter by 31 July. Go to


1. Several Follow-ups -
a. Kenny Surgenor of Rowlett, Texas.... Kenny was the 18year-old campaigning for local office. He didn't win but awakened many young voters to their own issues and plans to run again soon!
b. Justin Kopetsky, one of my profiles in TPP (pg. 34), is now in college in his home state of South Dakota. While he tells me that there is some 'burnout" from activism -college classes taking a lot of time - the fact that he is majoring in political science and the fact that he is interning at the Farber Center for Civic Leadership this summer indicates that his interest in making change is still solid.
This is more than heartening to hear for if you read David Brooks' description in the April Atlantic Monthly of college students' daily lives at our nation's elite colleges as a product of their over-protected, risk free, issue-free, and achievement-focused upbringing. Those daily lives read like a "... session of Future Workaholics of America" with practice, classes, and [socially correct] commitments from dusk to dawn, one young man reporting that he had to schedule appointment times for chatting with his friends. But Brooks remarks that there are a lot of things these future leaders no longer have time for. ..."At the height of the election season, I saw not even one Bush or Gore poster. I ... was told that most students have no time to read newspapers, follow national politics, or get involved in crusades. A student journalist says, 'It's a basic question of hours in the day. People are too busy to get involved in larger issues. When I think of all that I have to keep up with, I'm relieved there are no bigger compelling causes.' "
Yet, the issues of everyday living are the "bigger, compelling causes" of our time and it is those that will make all of us "political."

2. Justice for Janitors - College students are rising up for equitable conditions for those who work on their campuses, the Justice for Janitors living-wage movement gaining recent press. Take a look at which also included articles on the successful Harvard protests. Look also at "living wage" issues around the country for hotel and restaurant workers and others.


1. Always love the Harper's Index, an "eyebrow raising" set of national and global statistics published in every Harper's issue and available online for the current month at And.... since we're speaking of Harper's, check out, Adbuster's "redesigned" index on its "Harper's Smokeout" campaign (also at

2. Hip Hop by the Bay. If you are in San Francisco from now through August 12, stop by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to see "Hip-Hop Nation," an interdisciplinary exhibit of visual, performing, film/video and other programs touching the areas of protest, music, first amendment (a full reproduction of a censorship lawsuit on rap lyrics), and also just great fun! I loved it and am returning this weekend when I am at ALA! If you can't make it, go to

3 Well I've missed May but that doesn't mean that although Asian Pacific Heritage Month is now over that we need to forget the many from this heritage.
a., a Washington Post interview with Dina Gan, editor-in-chief of "aMagazine", an award-winning publication for Asian Americans.
b. Asian Week", the only national newsweekly devoted to the coverage of Asian American politics and culture.
c.GirlPoweronline lists authors, senators, TV anchors, fashion designers and other incredible individuals from the over 24 ethnic groups lightly grouped under "Asian American" at
d. Asian American Journalist Association at I've mentioned their high school program, "Boot Camp By the Bay", "a weeklong student campus bringing together a multicultural group of high school students to sharpen their journalism skills, learn how their cultural values impact their professional development and work together in a unique learning environment". Their deadline for this year is passed, but you might contact Karen Dispo, Program Director at the AAJA national office at (415) 346-2051 x300 for information.

4. The International Herald Tribune. A classic source to understand other nations' concerns and an other-than-American perspective.

5. Just released!!! The Yale study on the impact of Youth Vote Coalition efforts in the 2000 presidential election. Their findings indicate that these get-out-the-vote campaigns were highly effective in stimulating voter turnout.

Check out TEEN POWER POLITICS: MAKE YOURSELF HEARD and its companion website, TPP was written as a guide and a tool for activism. If ever that tool was needed, it is now.

Again, please let me know of a concern or activity you would like me to tell others about. And send this on to others and suggest that they e-mail me if they would like to be added to this list (or if they wish to be removed).

Thanks for taking the time to read this! If you received this twice, please let me know as I refine my list.

Sara Jane Boyers
Press/Twenty-First Century Book ISBN: 0-7613-1391-5, paper $9.95/ISBN
0-7613-1307-9 hardcover, $25.90
© 2001 Sara Jane Boyers