Junior State of America
|Junior State of America|
|Motto||Be the People|
|Type||High school club|
|Purpose/focus||Non-partisan civics education program|
|Headquarters||San Mateo, California|
|Location||800 S. Claremont St., Suite 202|
|Region served||United States|
|Parent organization||The Junior Statesmen Foundation|
The Junior State of America (formerly, the Junior Statesmen of America, or alternatively as the JSA) is an American non-partisan youth organization and the largest student-run organization in the country. The purpose of the JSA is to help high school students acquire leadership skills and the knowledge necessary to be effective debaters and civic participants. The JSA is sponsored by the Junior Statesmen Foundation Inc. (“JSF,” a 501c(3) non-profit corporation), which also operates the JSA Summer Schools.
Students organize every aspect of the organization, from the local chapter level to the regional level. The members elect leaders to organize JSA conventions, conferences, and political awareness events.
JSA is both a local and a national organization. The JSA is organized by regions, somewhat congruous with the real geographic United States regions. At the high school chapter level, chapter presidents organize local activities and meetings. On the state level, "governors" and "lieutenant governors" organize overnight conventions and other activities. On the national level, governors are in communication with each other planning convention themes and steering the direction of the organization. This national power has no judicial or legislative checks and balances.
The JSA program includes debates, “thought talks”, problem solving, and a variety of simulations designed to provide members with an informed viewpoint and the ability to analyse important issues. Simulations include, for example, model United Nations, model Congress (with a Senate and House of Representatives), crisis simulations, and other activities. JSA provides an opportunity to meet other students from outside their home communities who share similar interests; furthermore, debate conventions usually include various evening activities like dining downtown or impromptu debate.
In addition to sponsoring the JSA, the JSF sponsors three- and four-week Summer School sessions for JSA members and other high school students. These are held at Princeton, Stanford, UVA, and Georgetown and week-long symposium on state and local politics are held in several states. (In years past, JSF has held Summer School sessions at Yale, Northwestern University, University of Texas at Austin, University of California, Davis and University of California, Santa Cruz). Sessions include college-level courses on political science, economics, history and public speaking. Students from all over the world, (most notably England, France, Turkey, Micronesia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hong Kong) attend Summer School. The revenue from these programs help fund the school-year JSA program.
JSA was founded in 1934 by Professor E.A. Rogers at the Montezuma Mountain School in Los Gatos, California, as an experiment in self-government. Students at the Montezuma Mountain School set up their own tree-branch government, complete with a student court, police force, executive officer, and legislative branch. The students would draft, pass, and enforce their own rules.
The JSA has had liaisons with other similar organizations outside of the United States. For example, throughout the 1980s the Pacific-Northwest State developed close ties with the British Columbia Youth Parliament (BCYP). "Ambassadors" were invited from the Pacific-Northwest State to attend the December BCYP legislative session in Victoria, British Columbia, as well a number of BCYP sponsored events, including the "Vernon Conference" held in 1985, a project to celebrate the U.N. International Year of the Youth, involving the BCYP, the TUXIS Parliament of Alberta, and the JSA. In turn, the BCYP would send delegates to attend Pacific-Northwest Spring and Fall State. The Southern California state also added the American School in Honduras as a chapter in 2006 and the school's chapter attended the annual Congress convention. There are two active chapters in St. Kitts and St. Thomas, USVI. Puerto Rico has traditionally one or two chapters. All Caribbean chapters attend either the Northeast State or Mid-Atlantic State conventions. After 2008 Georgetown Summer School, it has been strongly rumored that a chapter will be started at the American School in Hong Kong.
Since its inception in 1934, more than 500,000 student members have participated in the JSA. Former members include Mike McCurry (Press Secretary under President Clinton), Edwin Meese (Attorney General under President Reagan), businessman Charles Schwab, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
The JSA currently consists of 10 states and territories (with states being larger) which correspond roughly to the geographic territories in the United States: the Arizona territory, Mid-Atlantic State, Midwest State, Northeast State, Northern California State, Ohio River Valley State, Pacific Northwest State, Southeast State, Southern California State, and Texas State. Each state or territory is broken into one or more regions. As a region or territory expands, it may petition the Council of Governors to become a territory or state, respectively. The Council may also break states into multiple territories if they become too large to be effectively managed.
Fall and spring state conventions
Fall and Spring State are state-wide overnight conventions at regional hotels and convention centers. Both consist of debates, thought talks, and special activities, including political fairs and a casual dance. Fall State is one night, students typically arrive at the hotel on a Saturday and return home the following day. Spring State, by comparison, usually takes place over three days, students arriving at the hotel on a Friday and returning on Sunday. At this longer spring convention JSA members in attendance elect regional leaders for the upcoming year. Both Fall and Spring State conventions are highlighted by prestigious keynote speakers. Past speakers at the Northern California State's conventions include Stanley "Tookie" Williams (in attendance by telephone), Snoop Dogg, and William J. Perry, former Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton (94-97). Speakers at Mid-Atlantic, and more recently the Pacific Coast, Region Conventions include Ralph Nader. Notable speakers from the Midwest State's conventions include Rod Blagojevich (the 40th Governor of Illinois). At the 2012 Northeast Winter Congress, Congressman Barney Frank was the keynote speaker.
Winter Congress convention
Winter Congress is structured more like an actual Congress: students are divided into Senate and House of Representative committees. Past speakers have included Joe Trippi, former Congressman Bob Barr, Senator Orrin Hatch, Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England, His Excellency Imad Moustapha (Syrian Ambassador to the United States), and Qubad Talabani (Son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani)
There are also smaller, regional conferences and chapter-conferences ("chapter-cons") which occur on a local level. Regionals are run by the Mayors and Vice-Mayors of Regions along with the Regional Cabinet members that they appoint. Chapter-cons are usually hosted by chapters at individual schools and are not officially JSA-sponsored events.
Elected positions and cabinet
As a student-run organization, JSA holds elections each year at the Spring State conventions to elect student elected officials who serve one-year terms. Each state elects a Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and each region elects a Mayor and Vice-Mayor. These officials each appoint a small cabinet that helps them run the organization by completing tasks such as organizing convention logistics, writing debates, producing publicity materials, founding new chapters, and running websites. JSA officials and cabinet members are typically extremely dedicated to JSA, and often spend many hours per week doing their jobs.
After the school year is over, JSA and JSF offer numerous summer programs. The biggest programs, which are held at major universities, are Summer Schools, which are conducted by the Junior Statesmen Foundation and offer students an opportunity to study local, state, or national government at an advanced level. These programs are meant to prepare young leaders for active participation in public affairs.
These programs, at which students take a full semester of two courses over three or four weeks, for which they can receive high school credit, take place at Stanford, Georgetown, Princeton, and Beijing. Along with debate and regular classes (including Advanced Placement and Law Classes), students participate in a vigorous Speaker's Program in which notable speakers talk about current issues to the students. Past speakers have included Mike McCurry, Andy Card, Ben Bernanke, Lee H. Hamilton, Norman Mineta, Joe Trippi, Dennis Kucinich, Chuck Hagel, Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Geraldine Ferraro, John Kerry, Harry Reid, Barack Obama, Ted Rall, George H.W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Ed Meese, William Perry, Bernie Sanders, Brian Williams and Karl Rove.
Summer Institutes are also held in different regions, such as the summer symposium of Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA, Princeton University and University of Texas. These events are four- to five-days long and venture into politics, world studies, history, national security and discussions of current events. Princeton's event is nicknamed "Princetitute." These events are formerly known as symposia.
Every summer, the newly elected governors each choose a select few from their states or territories to attend the Montezuma National Leadership Summit (affectionately known as "Zuma"). The summit is held in early-to-mid August at Presentation Center in Los Gatos, California, the former site of the Montezuma Mountain School where JSA was founded in 1934. Students who are selected to attend this summit learn more about the history and national dynamics of JSA. Being selected for attendance is considered one of the ultimate JSA honors, and many of the students that attend lead future years of the Junior State. Subsequently, two or three students are selected out of class to become a National Montezuma Foundation Student Advisor, working with the Junior State Foundation to preside over budget and funding allocations for the National Montezuma Summit.
- Author Unknown, "Junior Statesmen Summer School," Peterson's Planner, 2009, http://www.petersons.com/summerop/sites/inc/018598so.asp
- Ward, William J., New Jersey Eminent Domain Law Blog, Aug. 15, 2007, "Junior Statesmen hear eminent domain talk," http://www.njeminentdomain.com/state-of-new-jersey-junior-statesmen-hear-eminent-domain-talk.html
- Author Unknown, Government of the Federated States of Micronesia, June 5, 1997, "Six FSM High School Students Selected for 1997 DOI Junior Statesmen Summer School," http://www.fsmgov.org/press/pr06059a.htm
- Author Unknown, Los Gatos Weekly Times, Aug. 16, 2000, "Junior Statesmen alumni gather," http://www.svcn.com/archives/lgwt/08.16.00/jrstatesmen-0033.html
- Author Unknown, "Junior Statesmen," Time Magazine, Sept. 14, 1942, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,802465,00.html
- "Notable Alumni of the Junior State of America". Junior State of America. Retrieved 23 January 2012.