Junior State of America
|Motto||Be the People|
|Type||High school club|
|Purpose||Non-partisan civics education program|
|The Junior Statesmen Foundation|
The Junior State of America (formerly, the Junior Statesmen of America, or JSA) is an American non-partisan youth organization. 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 local, regional, and state 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 regional level, "mayors" and "vice mayors" organize regional one-day conferences. 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 United Nations 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.
Since its inception in 1934, more than 500,000 student members have participated in the JSA.
Most notable former members include Leon Panetta (Former Secretary of Defense, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, White House Chief of Staff, United States Congressman, and Member of the California State Senate), Mike McCurry (Press Secretary under President Bill Clinton), Edwin Meese (Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan), businessman and inventor Charles Schwab, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Other notable alumni
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- Christopher Cabaldon (Mayor, West Sacramento)
- Lanhee Chen (David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow, Hoover Institution and Former Policy Director, Mitt Romney presidential campaign, 2012)
- Andrei Cherny (Former Chair, Arizona Democratic Party)
- Fred Dutton (Chief of Staff, Governor Pat Brown)
- Michael Edelstein (President, International Television Production at NBC Universal)
- Dario Frommer (Former Majority Leader, California State Assembly)
- Eric Garcetti (Mayor, Los Angeles)
- Beth Labson Freeman (Judge, United States District Court for the Northern District of California)
- Ted Lempert (Former member, California State Assembly and President, Children NOW)
- Bill Lockyer (California State Treasurer)
- Zoe Lofgren (Member, United States House of Representatives)
- Frank Mankiewicz (Press Campaign Director, George McGovern's Presidential campaign and former President, NPR)
- Greil Marcus (Rock Historian and Critic)
- Bob Mathias (Former Olympian and United States Congressman)
- Stanley Mazor (Designer of the first microprocessor)
- Norman Mineta (Former Secretary of Commerce and Secretary of Transportation)
- Darcy A. Olsen (President & CEO, The Goldwater Institute)
- Nicholas Petris (Former Member, California State Senate)
- Joe Simitian (Member, California State Senate)
- Mark Takano (United States Congressman)
- Ethan Watters (Author, Urban Tribez and Co-Founder, San Francisco Writers Grotto)
The JSA consists of 10 states which correspond roughly to the geographic territories in the United States: the Arizona State, Mid-Atlantic State, Midwest State, Northeast State, Northern California State, Ohio River Valley State, Pacific Northwest State, Southeast State, Southern California State, and the Texas State. Each state is broken into one or more regions. If a state contracts below a certain operational level, the Council of Governors may vote to make the state a territory. The Council may also break states into multiple territories if they become too large to be effectively managed.
The current Council of Governors has ten members:
Ciana Cronin: Arizona State
Rohan Marwaha: Mid-Atlantic State
Janani Kalyan: Midwest State
Kiran Prasad: Northern California
Kamran Parsa: Northeast
Nari Johnson: Ohio River Valley
Divya Seth: Pacific Northwest
Justin Wittekind: Southern California
Michael Castro: Southeast
Ajay Singh: Texas
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Fall and spring state conventions
Fall and Spring State are statewide 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.
Winter Congress convention
Winter Congress is structured more like an actual Congress: students are divided into Senate and House of Representative committees. They pass bills in committees and then in floor sessions of the Senate and House. If a bill passes both houses, it becomes JSA law.
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, each JSA state holds elections yearly at the Spring State conventions to elect student elected officials who serve one-year terms. Each state elects a Governor and Lieutenant Governor, as well as various other offices that differ from state to state. 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. There is also a National Cabinet appointed by the Council of Governors. 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 used to be 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.
- 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 3 April 2014.