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“THANK GOODNESS the federal government did NOT shutdown,” sighed DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY Director Crofts!

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John Eyster
April 11, 2011

“THANK GOODNESS the federal government did NOT shutdown,” sighed DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY Director.

Tomorrow there are 24 Milton High School students who will leave on chartered Van Galder CoachUSA bus with their AP US Government & Politics teacher and the director of DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY, VAL CROFTS and staff for the 2nd annual field study from April 13 – 17 in Washington, DC. NOW, the 2nd annual DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY!

IF the federal government had shutdown, the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY group would NOT have been able to DISCOVER as much in Washington, DC! Federal parks, memorials and monuments would all have been closed. So, no traditional opening at The Lincoln Memorial! The picture of President Barack Obama bounding up the steps at The Lincoln Memorial last Saturday was reassuring to Val Crofts and his DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY students. All the federal facilities, including monuments and memorials are OPEN!

The REAL purpose of DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY is a field study researching various significant public policy issues selected by the students, e.g., US-Chinese trade, Gerrymandering (especially significant this year of redistricting - reapportionment after the 2010 census), The National Debt, Political Gridlock. The students will gain information and perspective for their research reports through individual interviews with lobbyists, government experts, et al. complemented by group Q&A sessions with Reps. Paul Ryan and Tammy Baldwin and Senators Ron Johnson and Herb Kohl.

Having had an audience with US Supreme Court Justice Scalia last year, the group had the benefit of networking through Justice Scalia to have an audience with Justice Ginsberg this year since Scalia was not able to meet with the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY group. What a compliment to Val Crofts and his students. They definitely made a very good impression on Scalia last year!

Taking advantage of the culture of the capital city, Director Crofts has booked tickets for the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY group to enjoy the healthy humor of THE CAPITOL STEPS at the Ronald Reagan building and the meaningful American Revolution musical “Liberty Smith” at the historic Ford’s Theatre to complement the whole cultural experience of our nation’s capital.

I am very happy to note that VAL CROFTS is an alumnus of the WASHINGTON SEMINAR and a graduate of Parker High School, Janesville, 1989. He wanted to share with his students at Milton High School the enriching experience of a field study in Washington, DC, so last year he developed his DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY. Val has enriched the field study experience with his own creative and valuable ideas. DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY is a very significant enrichment of the AP US Government & Politics course at Milton High School. I announced, “DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY BORN at Milton High School!” in this blog on March 23 last year.

I have had the privilege of consulting with Val as he has developed DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY. He has been a genius on budgeting for such a major field study. The students pay most of the costs for the field study. There is, however, the need for contributions from persons who wish to invest in meaningful democracy/civics education as there always was for WASHINGTON SEMINAR. Fortunately, WASHINGTON SEMINAR benefitted early from the advice and guidance of ALAN DUNWIDDIE years ago so that funds were set up with the Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, including: a general WASHINGTON SEMINAR fund with contributions from alumni & friends of the Seminar, the RICK HERRIOT MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP FUND for democracy/civics education and the LES ASPIN FUND which was started with a bequest from the estate of the late Representative of our US House District #1 and long-time advocate for and supporter of WASHINGTON SEMINAR, Les Aspin. This year was the 39th annual WASHINGTON SEMINAR field study led by Director Joe Van Rooy with the active support of Stan Milam.

Now, this year is the 2nd annual DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY field study. Anyone wishing to contribute to DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY may send a tax deductible (to the extent of the law) contribution. Checks should be made out to MILTON HIGH SCHOOL with memo: “Discovering Democracy.” Contributions should be sent to: Mr. Val Crofts, Milton High School, 14 West High Street, Milton, WI 53563-1699. THANK YOU for your contributions.

I know from personal experience the significance of this kind of field study for effective democracy/civics education. The alumni of WASHINGTON SEMINAR can attest to the value. And now, of course, there are the alumni of the inaugural DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY field study in 2010.

Persons interested in following DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2 on field study are invited to apply for access to the DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY Facebook page. I followed last year’s uploads with pictures and reports with much interest. This is the way to follow DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY day-by-day on field study starting tomorrow!

GODSPEED to VAL CROFTS and the whole DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY #2 group! I pray safe and satisfying travel with learning for you! Go for it!

Here we go…

Mr. E.



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