Citizens of a republic must be educated!
Citizens of a republic must be educated!
I agree with THOMAS JEFFERSON - "Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight." Do YOU agree with Jefferson? WHY do WE THE PEOPLE of WI not take more seriously the education of the children & youth who are natural born citizens of our republics - US & WI?
Last week I was “up on the mountain” teaching my 16th annual Advanced Placement Summer Institute sponsored by the School of Education, UW-Madison involved with 17 outstanding high school teachers from IL & WI who teach Advanced Placement US Government & Politics.
I will arrive home tomorrow with RENEWED audacity of HOPE for the future of our republics (plural = USA and Wisconsin)! I KNOW that there is a healthy renewal of our DEMOCRACY happening NOW with young citizens (Do YOU know when a personborn in the US becomes citizen of our US & WI?) becoming informed, involved and committed citizens with new vitality and activism enkindled by effective democracy/civics education of AP US Government & Politics courses.
I return home to regular routine reassured as to the future of our DEMOCRACY because of effective democracy/civics education in high schools throughout the US with special focus on this education in our WI high schools. What is YOUR assessment?
Climbing BASCOM HILL daily this week, I have been more directly aware of our UW-Madison and our WI Capitol. I have been thrilled daily by the vision seen when standing on BASCOM HILL (UW-Madison) looking up State Street to our WI State Capitol. I reflected on Robert M. “Fighting Bob” LaFollette’s vision of the WISCONSIN IDEA which included the concept of the state as “laboratory for democracy.”
At that time, this was meant to support legislation that served as a model for other states and the federal government to increase the democratic – progressive principles of states and nation. LaFollette’s WISCONSIN IDEA was the political philosophy that saw the public university as a servant of the state, including: “serving in office, offering advice about public policy, providing information and exercising technical skill, and to the citizens in the forms of doing research directed at solving problems that are important to the state and conducting outreach activities.”
For more discussion of the “Wisconsin Idea,” I urge you to read, “The Wisconsin Idea: The University’s Service to the State” – reprinted from the 1995-96 Wisconsin Bluebook. Valuable information and perspective, including the article, “The Wisconsin Idea for the 21st Century.”
WHY am I rejuvenated in my AUDACITY of HOPE for our republics – WI and USA? I spent last week with seventeen (17) AP US Government & Politics teachers for the intense 5 full days of the Advanced Placement Summer Institute of the School of Education at UW-Madison.
My co-instructor, Dr. Ken Mayer is one of the award winning and highly regarded political science professors at UW-Madison. He provided the seminar teachers with a very informative and relevant lecture/discussion on topics/issues required in the AP US Government & Politics curriculum. The curriculum lecture/discussion sessions are designed to help these AP teachers better prepare their students to be CITIZENS of our republics and gain success on the National AP US Government & Politics Exam.
My responsibility has been the afternoon sessions which focus on classroom resources to help these teachers provide their students with meaningful, relevant and effective class sessions to education young citizens to be educated/informed, involvement/active and committed citizens of our REPUBLICS and to achieve on the NATIONAL AP exam.
This includes starting on Monday afternoon with the review of the current (2012) National AP exam 4 required FREE RESPONSE QUESTIONS (FRQs) on the AP US Government & Politics exam. I was a Reader and then a Table Leader (supervisor) for the National Exam starting with the first national exam (1987) through the years until I retired from the Reading in 2005. 18 satisfying Readings with the benefits of the networking with high school AP teachers and Political Science professors from throughout the USA!
Since I have NOT been a Reader, we NOW enlist alumni of our seminar who are NOW Readers to come teach the current National Exam FRQ’s so that our teachers have the CURRENT rubrics for the scoring with training by a teacher who has just completed the Reading and is able to help these teachers realistically score the FRQs on the National AP Exam. This is valuable professional development learning so that these AP teachers are able to prepare their students to achieve on the National AP Exam.
WHY is this important? I agree with THOMAS JEFFERSON as he asserted the KEY REQUIREMENT of DEMOCRACY/CIVICS EDUCATION for a healthy/effective DEMOCRACY. There are two (2) key quotes which I would cite:
“An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens.”
"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.”
If you want to check on these quotes and/or others, use this link: “Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government” from the Family Guardian website.
The 17 AP teachers were a group of highly motivated – conscientious high school teachers who enriched the whole experience for everyone with their generous collegial sharing of resources! And now we have online connection to continue our collegial sharing as we move into the 2012-13 school year.
Numerous highlights from last week let me highlight a few:
--Dr. Ken Mayer’s academic lectures featuring current research and filled with current event illustrations to help every instructor plug-in the concepts/terms/situation for her/his students. Lively discussion throughout the lectures each morning last week.
--Learning the scoring RUBRICS of the 4 required FREE RESPONSE QUESTONS (FRQs) on the 2012 National AP Exam for AP US Government & Politics. Tom Kuhn, teacher from Mundelein HS (IL), Veteran AP Exam Reader and alumnus of our UW-Madison Institute came to “train” the teachers as to how the FRQs were scored this year. VERY practical & relevant information w/process for an AP teacher!
--Reviewing the required syllabus content for an authorized AP US Government & Politics course through the syllabus audit process was led by MATT ZWEIFEL, AP US Government & Politics teacher at Hartford Union High School (WI) and an alumnus of our seminar for teachers. Matt shared valuable ideas for classroom strategies used by the team of Pete Meinberg and Matt. (Pete was absent due to brain surgery to remove tumors – Pete is recuperating now.)
--DR. DIANA HESS, Professor of Education, School of Education, UW-Madison, who is on leave working with the Stanley Foundation in Chicago, presented via SKYPE a valuable and practical discussion related to her research and book, “Controversy in the Classroom: The Democratic Power of Discussion.”
Anticipation of the Supreme Court’s Health-care Law decision coming on Thursday enkindled a discussion of the difference between POLICY and CONSTITUTIONAL questions/issues.
Dr. Hess continues to advise numerous grad students working on PhD’s at UW-Madison. IF you are interested in an article summarizing Dr. Hess’ controversial issue discussions, send me an e-mail using my by-line on the blog with YOUR e-mail address and I promise to send you the article.
--Thursday afternoon session focused on resources used by classroom teachers online with each teacher invited to share one or more of her/his favorite resources. This dynamic led to helpful clarifications along with other teachers adding various special adjustments/details to enrich the resource being shared. Exciting PROFESSIONAL sharing which, I believe, is optimal for PROFESSIONAL QUALITY!
--This afternoon – FRIDAY – our last session will be a wrap-up of LOOSE ENDS – I have a list of MUST DO questions/topics/issues related to AP US Government & Politics. Time flies along too fast through the APSI week every year!
Advanced Placement has become a significant academic enrichment of the high school career which allows students to each COLLEGE CREDITS if they achieve (score of 3, 4 or 5) on a National AP Exam.
IF your local high school does not offer many courses with AP benefits, I suggest you learn more about the WISCONSIN VIRTUAL SCHOOL sponsored by CESA #9 and DPI. WVS offers online AP courses through local school districts for the benefit of students who otherwise would not have access. Local class schedule may be a reason to take an AP course online through WVS. Check it out.
Our highest PRIORITY in our AP US Government & Politics courses – we ALL agreed – is to educate our CITIZEN students to be informed – involved – committed citizens! Secondarily, we do hope to prepare them to achieve well on the National AP Exam IF they choose to take it. There is a fee to take the National AP Exam, so it is NOT required of a student taking an AP course.
What do YOU think about educating our CITIZEN students with high school courses?
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.