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Making Civics Real Workshop 6: Civic Engagement  
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Workshop 6

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Teacher Perspectives
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Teacher Perspectives: Standards

Bill Mittlefehldt: The state of Minnesota has mandated graduation standards. In our school district, we have mandated that the state curriculum goals will be achieved in specific courses. That’s not the way all school districts are dealing with that issue. The effort to balance all the needs and the demands on limited time and energy is very important. It’s an important issue to address because the state standards could be considered offensive impositions on my priorities as an educator. But I’ve had a very successful experience working with a number of teams here and in other schools.

There is a fair amount of flexibility in District 11 for how you implement the graduation standards for the state of Minnesota. [Service learning will] achieve a whole bunch of state graduation standards. [The standard] I’m working on has to do with managing resources. The way it’s interpreted in our district, the kids have to use geographic information, maps, and data about their place to help understand and analyze some issue of public import. We’re getting better and better geographic information, so this generation of kids has perhaps the most geographic information for understanding their area and how it’s changing.

I think the parents especially and the business leaders in our community are very pleased at the results. The principal sees the value of this in terms of character, aside from the kids getting stronger and more focused and making better [and more] positive decisions, when so many American teens are making negative decisions. My district supervisors like the way these kids are demonstrating success with the state standards. In fact, last term, we presented in the Governor’s Reception Office, and a woman there was [emotionally] moved when she heard these kids deliver their economic development recommendations to a team of state leaders. I take that as a hundred percent endorsement [that] we are doing the state standards the way they wanted them applied.


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