MORE HOPE for the future of our republics – WI & USA! Grateful for DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2!
MORE HOPE for the future of our republics – WI & USA! Grateful for DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2!!
I arrived home from the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2 FAIR last Wednesday evening with RENEWED HOPE for the future health of our republics – WI & USA!
WHY? Wondering how YOU feel about prognosis for the health of our republics - WI & the USA?
WHY am I the MORE hopeful?
I did learn a great deal from the AP US Government & Politics students from Milton High School who researched in-depth significant public policy issues and then through the field study in Washington, DC gained information and perspective on those issues. I was highly impressed by the ability of these GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS to research, do field study with interviews with very well informed persons dealing with their respective issues, analyze the information incisively and critically and develop a stance on the significant public policy issue.
I was GRATEFUL for the skill these young adults demonstrated in terms of engaging in CIVIL ARTICULATION - CONVERSATION about the issue researched. The range of stances on the issues was full range. I agreed with some of the students and disagreed with others. In every case, the STUDENT and I shared a candid and civil discussion of the issue. KUDOS to the students!
I wish the elected officials in MADISON and WASHINGTON were a “mature” in terms of civil discussion as these MILTON HS SENIORS! There is HOPE in our future!
This is the “right” time for me to share with you, the readers of my WE THE PEOPLE blog, the truth about VAL CROFTS, Founder/Director of Discovering Democracy and AP US Government & Politics teacher at Milton High School. We have VERY different views on public policy issues. We discuss with candor controversial issues and we communicate with a civility! We do RESPECT one another as persons, professionals and citizens.
For full disclosure, we are FRIENDS! Our background is that VAL CROFTS was a student in AP US Government & Politics at PARKER HIGH SCHOOL, Janesville, his senior year and participated on WASHINGTON SEMINAR field study. Val completed his academic degree with certification as a social studies teacher in WI. He was hired at Milton HS and has become the AP US Government & Politics teacher. Having a field study in Washington, DC is a natural complement to the AP US Government course. Creatively taking ideas from his own WASHINGTON SEMINAR experience, Val moved ahead to develop his own field study and named it, “DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY.” Discovering Democracy was on its INAUGURAL field study last year (2010) and achieved OUTstanding success. That provided the foundation to proceed with the 2nd annual DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY field study this year. Another VERY successful experience. Yes, that means that the 3rd annual DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY field study is already being planned.
In spite of assertions by some who make comments on my WE THE PEOPLE blog, Val & I assert that we and 99.44% of our colleagues who teach democracy/civics education courses have a very strong commitment to help our students learn information, gain various perspectives on public policy issues and analyze them with the result of developing a healthy stance as a US citizen on the significant public policy issues.
PROFESSIONAL democracy/civics education instructors do NOT indoctrinate their students! IF you want to learn more about professional development for healthy discussion of controversial issues, I recommend Dr. Diana Hess’ “Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion.” Dr. Hess is a tenured professor in Curriculum & Instruction with focus on social studies education in the School of Education, University of Wisconsin – Madison.
IF you want to read more about DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2, I discussed it several times on my WE THE PEOPLE blog this year. Those posts include links to various resources about the field study, including the feature published by the Milton Courier on Wednesday, May 11 and the podcast from the report about the field study arranged by STAN MILAM on the Conry Show, WCLO radio on Monday, May 16 – so you are able to listen to that live on air report online.
If you are interested to read a post-field study report on the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2 Field Study, read Doug Welch’s informative feature review article last week’s (May 12) issue of the Milton Courier and see a picture of the field study group, “MHS students Discover Democracy in Washington D.C.”
I blogged several times about the second annual field study of DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY, IF you are interested to go back to review that information, those posts were:
“THANK GOODNESS the federal government did NOT shutdown, sighed DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY Director Crofts!" - That first post about DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2 was on April 11 when I reported that VAL CROFTS, founder/director of Discovering Democracy and AP US Government & Politics teacher at Milton High School, was VERY GRATEFUL & RELIEVED that the federal government did NOT shutdown!
“Discovering Democracy #2 GOING!” – April 13, 2011.
”DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2 is HOME and ready to REPORT to WE THE PEOPLE!” - April 26, 2011. The announced live on air radio report had to be postponed. That radio report is today at 9:30 am, WCLO (1230 AM).
"ALERT: Discovering Democracy #2 RADIO Report Postponed" – April 28, 2011.
I also viewed again the continuously running video, “DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY 2011” by Lauren Metcalf which ran about 15 minutes. I had watched it before on the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY Facebook page – I know that fairgoers gained insight to the work and learning, fun and experience of DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2 field study in the nation’s capital. GOOD NEWS! You can still see that video on the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY Facebook page! You need to request access to the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY Facebook page. Access is limited for obvious reasons since this is a high school group. Facebook members should NOT hesitate to request access and ENJOY the “Discovering Democracy” Facebook page.
WITH YOUNG CITIZENS like this DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2 group, I have RENEWED HOPE for a healthy future for our republics – WI and the USA! And, of course, there are the YOUNG CITIZENS of the 2011 WASHINGTON SEMINAR which add to my RENEWED HOPE! These US CITIZENS – remember – they are CITIZENS NOW regardless of whether or not they are 18 and eligible to vote and, for WI legislators, whether or not they have ID to vote! - are already more “mature” as persons able to discuss and deal with controversial public policy issues than many of our elected representatives in WI state government and US federal government. HOW do we get those persons to have needed skill development to be healthy citizens of our republics? What do YOU suggest?
Here we go...
John Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor of political science at UW-Waukesha and an advocate for democracy/civics education in Wisconsin high schools. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.