TODAY is the FIRST day of the rest of our lives!
TODAY is the FIRST day of the rest of our lives!
Today we move to complete this intense week in WI history and politics. I want to share my conviction of a HEALTHY FUTURE for our republics - US & WI - because of the well informed, thoughtful, committed and involved young adults who have had the learning experiences provided by Discovering Democracy at Milton HS and WASHINGTON SEMINAR & Madison Seminar at Parker HS and Craig HS in Janesville. So, today is a NEW day - TODAY is the FIRST day of the rest of our lives! What do YOU think?
“Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” This has been my motto and favorite quote since my teen-years in high school. I was very fortunate to learn early that each day is a NEW day and that while we MUST LEARN from the past, we MUST be ready to move FORWARD with the NEW day! That’s one of the reasons I envy my grandsons (8 and 12) since they are both natives of the 21st century and thereby the “Digital Age.” I envy ALL the natives of the “Digital Age”! Do YOU?
As we complete this first full week of June, 2012, we complete a very intense week in the history and NOW the past of WI. As I articulated in my WE THE PEOPLE blog post yesterday, Thursday, June 7 “Will Walker WALK the talk?” I have moved into the NEW day with the audacity of HOPE that Scott Walker has matured and will NOW walk the talk. At the same time, I must admit that I am following Republican President Reagan’s advice, “Trust, but verify.” What is YOUR perspective?
T G I F! Earlier this week, in the midst of our WI RECALL PROCESS, I had grave concern as to a healthy future for our republics – USA and WI. Today, I am reminding myself and want to remind you that the FUTURE is in GOOD hands with… informed, thoughtful, committed and involved young adults… I think specially of the alumni of DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY, the Field Study program which teacher VAL CROFTS started in 2010 and completed the 3rd annual field study this spring. Discovering Democracy complements Val’s AP US Government & Politics course at Milton HS.
And the alumni of the WASHINGTON SEMINAR and the new Madison Seminar which are under the leadership of JOE VAN ROOY. The field study program became a DISTRICT democracy/civics education program for students at both Parker and Craig high schools in Janesville this year.
WASHINGTON SEMINAR has continued field study experiences since I took the first group in 1973. I completed by travels with the Seminar with the 2002 field study, so I traveled with 30 field study groups on WASHINGTON SEMINAR. JOE VAN ROOY has directed the Seminar since 2001, so this year was his 12th seminar field study.
WASHINGTON SEMINAR was developed to complement the AP US Government & Politics course at Parker HS and is NOW complements the AP US Government & Politics courses at Parker and Craig HS.
I truly believe WE THE PEOPLE of the Janesville & Milton school districts should be reassured by the QUALITY of these teachers (Val Crofts & Joe Van Rooy) and the democracy/civics education courses & programs they direct in our local high schools. I KNOW I AM REASSURED as I look with HOPE to the FUTURE of our republics – the USA and WI! What do YOU feel?
Several times earlier this year, I posted reports on DISCOVERING DEMOCRACY and/or WASHINGTON SEMINAR in my WE THE PEOPLE blog posts, if you want to review them, here is the list with links:
My blog on May 21 was to make readers aware of the upcoming Discovering Democracy research fair on Thursday, May 24. WHAT a fantastic learning opportunity!
IF you want to read a full feature report on that research fair, you will be well informed by John Ziegler’s article, “Discovering Democracy hosts Research Fair” published by the Milton Courier on May 31.
John Ziegler is an Intern with the Courier this summer. He is a student at the University of MN. His style grabbed my interest even though I myself had been at the fair and talking with the students about their significant public policy issues. Try this kick-off of the article, “Yes, it is election season, but the event was not part of the hotly contested campaigns for state and federal office. Rather, members of the "Discovering Democracy" program in social studies teacher Val Crofts' Advanced Placement (A.P.) U.S. Government & Politics class were sharing their findings after a year of research, including a one-week policy seminar in Washington D.C.”
Clarifying the purpose and design of the fair, Ziegler reports, “Crofts implemented the program in Milton. Students select a policy topic early in the school year, and then work on background research in preparation for the one week field study in Washington D.C. While in Washington D.C., the students are responsible for scheduling interviews with people relevant to their project. After completing the interviews, the students do further research and then prepare a research paper. Additionally, students prepared poster board presentations for last Thursday's research fair.”
Helpfully, Ziegler selected some of the significant public policy issues researched by the students and reports on his conversations with them, “Ben Fox and Alyssa Leitz worked together researching the topic that dominates political conversation today - the national debt. They interviewed Jim Herz, an analyst for the House Budget Committee, and Scott Parkinson, a legislative assistant for Sen. Johnson (R-Wis.). They also posed debt-related questions to Rep. Ryan (R-Wis.) during the group's meeting with him.”
I myself had a very valuable conversation with Rob Luke and Ziegler reports on his conversation with Rob, “Rob Lyke researched the separation of church and state in America, and he found that the origins of the policy disagreement have their roots in the country's early days. “One reason why the historic issue of separation of church and state is important today is because it is frequently the underlying theme of policy debates."
I also talked with Mitch Taylor about his research on same-sex marriage. I would note that Mitch stated that the reason for his choice of issue was because it is a CIVIL RIGHTS issue and not a personal issue.
Ziegler reports on Mitch’s issue, “Mitch Taylor approached one of those policy debates in the news today - the question of same-sex marriage. In presenting his research, Taylor referenced polls from Gallup polling which shows shifting public opinion on the subject.”
He quotes Taylor stating, "Over the past decade, Americans have become more accepting of same-sex marriage and now a majority of Americans approve of it," Taylor said. "It is a generational thing, and the younger generation is more progressive."
I URGE readers of my blog to read this article to learn more about the thoughtful research and thinking of these MILTON HS students.
Then this week – last Tuesday and Wednesday, the Janesville Gazette continued its long practice of publishing the OpEd statements on significant public policy issues by students in the AP US Government & Politics classes at Parker and Craig under the leadership of Mr. Joe Van Rooy. The expansion of the program to BOTH Janesville high schools meant that students from both high schools were represented in this year’s OpEd feature!
I read those OpEd statements with MUCH appreciation for the research, analysis and policy perspectives of those students. I am happy that I am able to provide you the link to the Gazette’s “Local Columns” where you will have access to the OpEd statements from Parker and Craig students from their research on national issues in Washington and on state issues in Madison, “Opinion >>Columns>>Local Columns” and you’ll be able to read the OpEd statements you choose.
The June 5 OpEd page featured 9 OpEd statements by students, “Local students share insights on national issues.” And then the June 6 OpEd page featured 8 OpEd statements by students, “Students explore Wisconsin issues.”
Space limitations curtail the number of OpEd statements which the Gazette can publish in the hardcopy issue, but ONLINE all 26 statements from which the editor chose are available. READ all of them! You are welcome to comment on them as you comment on my WE THE PEOPLE blog. COMMENDATION & THANKS to The Janesville Gazette, especially Editorial Page Editor Greg Peck, for continuing this valuable opportunity for students to write OpEd statements and have them published! VERY VALUABLE!
I hope that you - readers of my blog and the statements by these students - too have a STONGER AUDACITY of HOPE for the FUTURE of our republics – US and WI – after reading these thoughtful OpEd statements.
The students involved with Discover Democracy and WASHINGTON SEMINAR – MADISON SEMINAR are VERY IMPORTANT to the healthy future of our republics! Do YOU agree?
With this renewed sense of HOPE and CONFIDENCE in the FUTURE, I celebrate that TODAY is the FIRST day of the REST of MY life and the FIRST day of the REST of the life of our republics – US and WI! Do YOU?
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.