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Updated 12:30 PM February 14, 2007




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  U-M-Flint program
Learning to Make a Difference

Thirty students from Flint's Whittier Classical Academy are participating in a unique program at U-M-Flint that not only exposes them to the college experience, but will lead to possible new state legislation.
Photo by Mel Serow, U-M-Flint

The Michigan Student Caucus (MSC) is a project developed in cooperation with state legislators that engages students of all ages in the political process. U-M-Flint, Flint Community Schools (FCS) and state legislators have joined to provide the experience for the ninth graders. The students meet once a week on campus and again online to work on proposals that will be presented to Michigan Legislators and representatives of state agencies in the spring.

"To my knowledge, no other Flint Community School classroom of students at the ninth grade level has had such an empowering opportunity," says Sandra Morgan-Jones, principal of Whittier Classical Academy. "The exposure to this early college experience and Michigan Legislature is one they will remember for the rest of their lives. They will learn that their voice is powerful no matter their age.

"I believe these students will be lifelong active voices in their community because of this FCS and U-M-Flint partnership."

College and high school students from throughout the state will collaborate with the Whittier group.

"The high school students get a real college experience being on campus and working as peers with college students," says Jeffrey Kupperman, U-M-Flint assistant professor. "More importantly, they get to make a real difference in the place where they live while getting a meaningful understanding of how democracy works."

Past caucuses have written resolutions on a variety of issues ranging from health care and water pollution, to rape education and civil unions.

"There is value in exposing our children to the rudiments of higher education," says Walter Milton, FCS superintendent.

"We firmly believe that it is imperative to raise the bar. This particular partnership is an indication that we are serious," Milton says. "We are most certain that both entities will benefit."

U-M-Flint Provost and Acting Chancellor Jack Kay says the University is excited about providing this opportunity.

"We know that early college experiences have a profound impact on student achievement and success, and this program in particular has a proven track record in yielding positive gains for young people—and helping to make them active and engaged citizens who make a difference in their community."

MSC is not affiliated with any political party or organization. Since 2001, thousands of Michigan students have participated in online deliberation, negotiation and voting leading to the construction of a political platform that is presented in formal testimony to the House Commission on Civic Engagement.

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