After welcoming delegates to the 79th New York YMCA Youth and Government conference, Youth Governor, Christy Zegel delivered her State of the State address. In her speech, she outlined several important issues.
The first of these issues is the service learning project. Designed by Lieutenant Governor Kelci Henn, this year’s project helped veterans and their families. Often, when a veteran leaves the service, he or she has physical and/or psychological wounds. These wounds usually make it difficult for the veterans to support themselves and their families. By working with Operation Homefront, all seven districts have visited veteran hospitals, donating toiletries and other supplies, and provided veterans with clothes to wear to interviews for potential jobs. According to Christy, this years project was a huge success thanks to the personal connects formed between delegates and veterans.
An issue which is most relevant to the conference is the corruption that is plaguing the government. This aspect of politics is something we have become too accustomed to. All too often, we assume that a politician is corrupt, simply because he or she is a politician. In recent years, a multitude of scandals have plagued New York State, most recently is the one involving former Speaker of Assembly, Sheldon Silver. When asked what to do about political corruption. Christy said that we (the delegates) must be the ones to combat and eliminate corruption in the government. “We are the leaders of tomorrow. We are the ones who must preserve democracy for all generations.”
Another pressing issue which Christy discussed is police brutality and how it can be combated. A solution, which several bills have proposed, is the use of cameras worn on police officers’ vests. These cameras do not hinder an officer’s ability to do their job, nor does it violate an officer’s rights. The cameras will ensure that “officers who are abusing civilians, and civilians who are being abused receive justice.”
A final issue which has become more prevalent in New York is the education system and teacher evaluations. Teacher evaluations are based on a system called the Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR). The APPR does not allow for teachers to educate in ways that would benefit individual growth. Christy said, “Our state is attempting to make all students fit a mold.” What she means is that every student has their own strengths and weaknesses and everyone has a different learning style. The current teach evaluations hinder the intellectual growth because a standardized test does not accurately portray the uniqueness of and individuals or a teacher’s ability to educate.Therefore, Christy strongly believes that APPR is not suitable for the current education system and must be amended so that our successors receive the education they both need and deserve.