NEWARK, NJ - Starting this September, students living in the Central Ward can experience what it is like to be a council member for a day.
Central Ward Councilmember LaMonica McIver is offering students in grades 8 through 12 the chance to shadow her at City Hall for a full school day.
The program will help encourage students to become more civically engaged by understanding how local government functions and the role of the city council.
All students are required to do is be on time, dress professionally, and take notes.
McIver said as a 33-year old millennial, she hears a lot of people her age say they are not into politics. When speaking to youth throughout the city, she discovers that most students do not have any idea about what she does as a council member.
By shadowing her for an entire school day, she hopes that students will feel inspired to become more involved in politics and what happens in their community.
“We encourage young people to get involved and know the basics of local politics and politics in general,” said McIver, who is the youngest member of the City Council.
Students should send an email expressing their interest to email@example.com. Each month, a new group of students will be selected to participate.
“We’re going to give everyone an opportunity. I can’t see us turning any young people away,” McIver said.
She hopes that the experience will complement what students learn in school about civics.
During the 2018-2019 school year, the Newark Board of Education approved a civics course pilot for all high school juniors in the district.
Slightly more than half of the students who responded to the survey felt were more likely to participate in local government, politics, or community affairs after taking the course.
Members of the City Council have been in conversation with Newark Public Schools to put civics back into the school and make it a regular part of the curriculum for everyone, McIver said.
If students are involved in at a younger age, they may be more inclined to registered to vote at age 18, be more knowledgeable about their legal rights, and grow up to be engaged adults.
“I encourage other councilmembers in the city and other municipalities to do the same if they aren’t already,” said McIver. “We have to do what we can at the local level to engage young people in politics and what they can do to change the world and their communities.”