Friday, October 14, 2011

Intern's Thoughts on Youth Town Hall

My intern, Seth Ross, who is a senior at Churchill High School, attended this week’s Youth Town Hall, so I asked him for his thoughts on the evening. Here is what Seth has to say:

At first glance, you might think the Youth Town Hall meeting this week was a full work session devoted to the teen curfew. However, teens filled the hearing room to capacity and asked many questions pertaining to their own education and the county’s mystifying budget.

Right off the bat, the first question was about the curfew. The question included a fair amount of research about constitutional rights that the student believed would be infringed upon if the proposed curfew bill were to be passed. Quick to respond was Councilmember Berliner who made it very clear that the Council did not propose this bill, and that is was being reviewed as a favor to the County Executive. Things began to heat up when a teenager raised the notion that some of the Councilmembers may just be passing the curfew to gain votes in the next election. I believe this is a possible tactic the Councilmembers are using to appeal to voters who live in areas with higher crime rates. Councilmember Andrews was the only Councilmember to be upfront and direct with his opposition to the curfew. I thought he was spot on when he explained that crime is not being committed by youth 22 and under during curfew hours and that youth crime in general is declining. Why is it necessary to impose a curfew when youth crime is going down?

While there were many teens opposed to the curfew, many others came to question the Council’s budget regarding MCPS. Councilmember Floreen got right to the point in clarifying that the Council gives approximately half of the $4.4 billion budget to MCPS. At first, what most students did not seem to grasp is that the roughly $2 billion for education is directly handed to the School Board. From there, the School Board is in charge of doing what they see fit with the money. It seems like neither teens nor adults can really understand our County’s budget!

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