What is democracy? “Rule by the people” But more than elections • “Democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. …each has to refer his own actions to that of others…” • John Dewey.1944. Democracy and Education.
Democracy needs Citizens who do “Public Work” Democracy is more than • Voting and government • charity and one-on-one volunteerism • the politics of grievance and protest Democracy is • “the work of the people” • Includes “everyday politics” where citizens share in the productive, public work of building a commonwealth. Citizens • should be “co-producers” of public goods. • work with government, but don't expect government to solve all problems. • respect experts but resist having professionals impose solutions. • willing to work through conflict and across divisions to find compromises and solutions. Harry Boyte PA FounderAuthor Co-Director Center for Democracy and Citizenship University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Public Achievement A way to teach democracy by doing democracy. Usually a youth program. Allows youth to act as citizens now on real issues. Youth work on issues they care about. Small groups called “teams” Leaders called “coaches” Goals of Public Achievement • Motivation to participate • Empowerment • Skills • Understanding of democracy
Roots of Public Achievement “Citizenship Schools” of the U.S. Black Civil Rights Movement Community Organizing Movement Saul AlinskyOrganizer of working classNon-socialist left Dr. Martin Luther King jr. Dorothy CottonDirector Southern Christian Leadership Council Citizenship Education Program.
Where in the world is Public Achievement? EuropeNorthern Ireland Belfast Irish RepublicMonaghan and Cavan Scotland Selkirk Turkey Istanbul U.S.AMinnesotaMinneapolis St. Paul Mankato ColoradoDenver MissouriKansas City Maryville WisconsinMilwaukee New HampshireManchester Keene Middle EastPalestine Ramallah
Dakota Meadows Middle SchoolNorth Mankato, Minnesota U.S.A Shane Baier, the DMMS principal
Program Basics Learning democracy by being democratic • A partnership between a state university and public middle school • 30 university students; social studies majors. • University students study democracy in a political science class. • 200 middle school students; 12 - 14 year olds • PA is optional for middle school students • PA meets one hour per week instead of a study hall. • Students form small groups (5-8) called teams; one university student is coach for each team. • Teams work on real public problems or issues that kids choose.
August to MayUniversity students study democracy one class per week Dr. Joseph Kunkel Political Science 381 Democracy and Citizenship
SeptemberUniversity students trained to coach at Saturday workshopThey learn 1. What is Public Achievement 2. How to get started.
SeptemberKids suggest ideas at Issues Assembly • 7th and 8th grade students hold assemblies to suggest issues or problems they want to work on. • Later kids vote, marking their favorites. • We form about 30 teams. Most get their 1st or 2nd choice.
ISSUES:PA TEAMS 2004-2005 7th Grade Support U.S. Troops Political Awareness Teen Depression Stop Domestic Abuse Pets and Animals Disaster Relief School Issues School Newspaper School Decorations Stop Labeling/Stereotypes Skaters and Skateboard issues Sports Jerseys Start Football team Start Rugby Team 8th Grade Support U.S. Troops Trash & Environment Cleanup Preventing Teen Pregnancy Stop Child Abuse Pets and Animals Homelessness and Poverty Teen Recreation Center Concerts School Spirit School Bus Issues School Decorations Start Basketball Team Skaters and Skateboard Issues
Beginning Activities of Teams Democratic process Discuss their issue Speak and listen Write Mission Statement Agree on rules or a constitution Research, surveys, interviewing. Team building games Use small group democracy written meeting agendashare rolesKeep written recordsDebate and vote. Plan next meetingsEvaluate themselves Research Information Internet Search Surveys Learn who can help or stop them Interviewing Field Trips Guest Speakers Use Political Language Power Democracy Self-interest Authority Compromise Responsibility Freedom Diversity Equality Respect
Taking Action Not all teams realize their goal or complete a major project. But most takes actions to learn and try to influence others. Many teams sponsor assemblies fundraising events publish brochures take direct action to improve the community. Teams must discuss their ideas with adults authorities. Actions and projects must be approved. Often frustrating but gives real world experience.
Examples of Actions and Projects Tree Planting at elder housing Open School Store
Examples of Actions and Projects Clean up trash at nature area Assembly to educate about teen depression & suicide
Examples of Actions and Projects Toys to New York children who lost family in 9/11/01 terrorist attack Get exercise equipment for school
Examples of Actions and Projects Visit law-makers at state capitol Community Meeting to discuss teen recreation center
Evaluation Problems…sometimes Disruptive behavior Coaches do not provide authority Not enough school involvement Not enough time Kids don’t pick deep issues Unrealistic issues Noisy meeting places Little work between meetings Uninterested in concepts Better assessment of results needed Successes Coaches learn what groups should do Kids learn democratic skills Kids invited to lead Coaches get experience at school with kids Kids meet other adults All learn democracy is something they can do everyday. Process more important than Product
For more information Mankato PA Website http://krypton.mnsu.edu/~jak3/pa E-mail links Syllabus for academic course “Toolbox” of useful documents Stories about teams Photographs Book chapter describing Mankato PA National PA Website http://www.publicachievement.org
Political democracy, as it exists and practically works in America, with all its threatening evils, supplies a training-school for making first-class men. It is life's gymnasium... We try often, though we fall back often….Whatever we do not attain, we at any rate attain the experiences of the fight, the hardening of the strong campaign, Did you, too, O friend, suppose democracy was only for elections, for politics, and for a party name? I say democracy is only of use there that it may pass on and come to its flower and fruits in manners, in the highest forms of interaction between men, and their beliefs -- in religion, literature, colleges, and schools -- democracy in all public and private life, Walt Whitman. 1871. Democratic Vistas