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Teens To Elicker: We Need More After-School Programs
by Allan Appel | Oct 16, 2013 7:39 am
Posted to: The Hill, Campaign 2013
Michael Blake could save $100 a month on traveling to Bridgeport if New Haven could get its own chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers at Hillhouse High—where it was discontinued—or at a place like the Q House, which is shuttered.
Blake (at left in photo) told that Tuesday night to someone who hopes a chance to do something about it: a mayoral candidate.
He showed up at the Wilson Branch Library with a dozen kids for a “youth forum on education” with independent mayoral candidate Justin Elicker (at right in photo) and some adult supporters, including local entrepreneurs Camille Bethea and Travis Pittman, a one-time drug dealer who has made good. Hillhouse High School Principal Kermit Carolina, who ran against Elicker in the Democratic mayoral primary and now supports him in Elicker’s general-election campaign against Democrat Toni Harp, brought the kids together to the event..
The kids’ echoed Blake’s concern about boosting after-school enrichment programs. In a wide-ranging discussion that included jobs, after-school programs, street violence, and how charter and public schools compare, Elicker was skillful at involving each kid in the circle and eliciting what activities they were involved in and what concerns they had.
He also promised them pizza and salad afterwards. Rather than talk at the kids, he acted as a teacher/facilitator and made sure they all got heard.
Michael Blake, a Hillhouse junior, rattled off activities he’s currently involved in, enough activities for three kids: They include the Higher Heights Program, New Haven Promise’s “Pathways to College,” and the National Society of Black Engineers.
For the latter he takes the train to Bridgeport. New Haven used to have such a program, but no longer does. “I’d save $100 a month” if t did, he added.
Charter vs. Traditional Public School
The conversation shifted to kids’ different experiences at charter schools and regular high schools. “I go to Amistad [charter High School] right now. You can’t express yourself,” said Danah Samuel (pictured). She also introduced herself and her distinctive outfit by saying it had been “wacky-tacky” day at school.
Blake said that he had transferred from a charter school to Hillhouse “because they offer more programs.”
Then Sabir Abdussabur, a graduate of Amistad High and now a Gateway student, came to the defense of his alma mater, and the city’s schools in general.
“I love public high schools, broad opportunities. The problem is we have a social class attached to each school. We need the variety [of schools] because kids are different.” Abdussabur runs a “Youth Day Productions” technology workshop at the Wilson Library teaching kids videography, photoshop, and web design.
Throughout, Elicker mainly listened. “We could have a two-week retreat, and not solve” all these issues, he said as he wrapped it up.
Michael Blake was won over. “I’d choose Justin Elicker,” he said. “I haven’t heard [Harp] attracting high school kids and seeing their thoughts.” Blake, who is 16, is not eligible to vote. At least one 18-year-old in the crowd, who is not registered to vote at this point, said he was also swayed by Elicker.
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“I haven’t heard [Harp] attracting high school kids and seeing their thoughts.”
Of course you haven’t heard from Toni Harp. She admitted you have to pay to speak to her.
“Elicker was skillful at involving each kid in the circle and eliciting what activities they were involved in and what concerns they had.”
I have seen Justin in action, and this sentence describes him well. His people skills are off the charts. He knows how to talk with people—young and old in in-between—showing genuine interest in what they have to say, on *whatever* topic, and offering his own comments in a way that is conversational and engaged. There is not the slightest bit of posturing or spouting, in the manner of many politicians, and not the slightest hint of talking AT people. And his conversation is substantive rather than empty; it’s not small talk, it’s relevant and on point.
Justin Elicker is the real deal. He is a great guy personally, and he’s got a sharp, informed mind. New Haven would be so very fortunate to have him as mayor.
I need to comment on this. This is not a one time thing. I see Justin talking to the kids in my area always asking them what they think ect. This is one of his greatest plus’s! He talks to people. He listens…he learns and he uses what they say to make things better. Even our teens (new haven’s future) have to have a say in what happens in their schools and in this city. Bravo for being the you you are Justin.
This sounds like Justin, all right. Imagine: a serious mayoral candidate devoting his time and even money to a constituency of people who can’t contribute big money or even vote! Aside from teenagers, I think he also listens to the concerns of Hispanic and Chinese non-citizens who live and work in our fair city - in their on languages. It isn’t always about money and political pandering, not with this man.
Surprisingly, an all-positive series of comments so far. Not one person finding a reason to smear JE on this one. Huh. At least, none that make it through the filter :D
I think that is because harps paid posters do not see these kids as voters. Notice that they only post were they think voters are going to read. And it is always the same tired stuff. I like that Justin is taking time out to talk to all new haven residents! Why because we all matter and our ideas may be the ones that help heal this city! Even our teens!
posted by: William Kurtz on October 18, 2013 6:42am
“Surprisingly, an all-positive series of comments so far. “
Maybe that’s because there’s genuinely nothing to criticize Mr. Elicker for in this article. What ‘negative’ would you like to attach to a forum in which a candidate for elected office ‘mainly listened’ to the concerns of residents, some of whom aren’t even yet eligible voters?
Astounding. Harp calls attention to the important issue of food security, something that she has consistently advocated throughout her career. This is an issue, for which she has also won major victories, starting as an alder by winning free breakfasts for all school children. Note that such programs not only prevent kids from going hungry but they also have a significant impact on school performance (http://econweb.ucsd.edu/~ddotter/pdfs/Dotter_JMP_Manuscript.pdf). Harp has used similar skills to build coalitions that have put other progressive policies in place.
Yet what was the reaction to her volunteering with food bank and calling attention to the issue of food security? The reaction was the same boring vile that we have all come to expect from the commentariat.
At the same time Justin holds an event with youth. Toni supporters could fill this comments section with the same trolling negativity, and yet they don’t. How do Justin’s supporters respond to the lack of negativity? Well, to no surprise they manage to link the lack of negativity back to the corruption of Toni and the instrumentality of her supporters. This is how insane and ridiculous the comentariat has become. They interpret the lack of negative comments for one article in the NHI as a sign of corruption. Onwards and upwards commentariat!!! The vanguard of imagined and arbitrary good government standards can never sleep!!