Whose Democracy is it Anyway?

Join the Sabo Center and a panel of distinguished guests in exploring the questions: What role do citizens play in our democracy? What role do elected officials play? In a thriving democracy, how do (or should) the two interact?

October 4, 2018

4:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Hagfors Center, Room 150, Augsburg University

 

Panelists:

Harry Boyte, Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy, Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship  

Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison, Minneapolis Ward 5

Irene Fernando, Candidate for Hennepin County Commissioner – District 2

 

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Democracy Augsburg Teach-in: Lessons from the Civil Rights Movement

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Join us Tuesday, September 25 at 4:00 p.m. in Hagfors 151 when Harry Boyte delivers the first Democracy Augsburg Teach-in of the year, Addressing the Crisis in Democracy- Lessons from the civil rights movement. Harry Boyte, Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy at the Sabo Center, served as a field secretary for Rev. Martin Luther King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the southern freedom movement. He will lift up lessons from the movement, including the key role young people played, and relate them to our current crisis in democracy.

Relational Skills for Bridging Divides

In our current climate of political polarization, people with differing perspectives and opinions struggle to engage in productive conversation. We tend to be quick to defend or demonize, deepening the divide that exists in the American people. Even when we want to reach out to those with different perspectives, we often don’t know how.

In response to these issues, The Sabo Center with the Civic Studies Fellows is offering this day-long workshop will feature a Better Angels skill building session in which participants will learn effective ways to communicate with others who differ from them politically or ideologically. Over luncBetter Angels logo, How to Talk Across the Political Divideh Dr. William J. Doherty will deliver a keynote address. Bill Doherty is the an educator, researcher, therapist, speaker, author, consultant, and community organizer who designed the Better Angels process. In the afternoon participants will practice their communication skills in deliberative dialogues on an array of hot topics.

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Bill Doherty

Relational Skills for Bridging Divides

Saturday, November 3, 2018

9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Hagfors Center, Augsburg University

 

Thanks to support from Augsburg University and the Kettering Foundation, there is no cost to attend this event but registration is required. Registration will open September 25.

New Frontiers in Civic Revitalization: Local Democracy Summit

The Public Work Academy at Augsburg University and the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service are co-presenting a local democracy summit in Wausau, Wisconsin.

New Frontiers in Civic Revitalization:
Local Democracy Summit

November 15, 2018 • 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

UW Center for Civic Engagement
625 Stewart Ave Wausau, WI 54403

 Register Now!   Registration is limited to the first 75 attendees

The theory and practice of “public work” are transforming civic and professional practice in the United States and abroad.           – David Mathews, President, Kettering Foundation

Communities across the nation face fragmentation and polarization. Yet cities and towns, large and small, also have the potential to be the seedbed for a rebirth of citizenship and democracy – providing an alternative to the national politics of blame and gridlock.

This summit at the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service will introduce civic leaders from Wisconsin to the new Midwest Public Work Academy’s Small Cities Democracy Network located at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. Participants will:

  • Engage in a high-level conversation with thought leaders across multiple sectors – including business, education, government, health care, foundations, and more.
  • Share perspectives, examples and leading practices in citizen-centered efforts to address public problems and create shared community resources across partisan and other differences.
  • Learn from case studies of effective citizen-government and cross-partisan partnerships for the common good such as “Clear Vision Eau Claire,” “Better Angels” and “Public Achievement.”
  • Receive training from internationally recognized leaders in public work, including Harry Boyte, Marie Ström and Mike Huggins.
  • Receive a free copy of Harry Boyte’s new book, “Awakening Democracy through Public Work.”
  • Learn about how your organization or community can plug into the growing movement around public work being organized by the new Midwest Public Work Academy based at Augsburg.

Cost: $75 per person (includes lunch and book) For information, contact info@wipps.org or call 715-261-6388.

Auggies Engage

 

Auggies Engage​ aims to co-create a shared vision of civic and campus life with fellow students, problem-solving for the benefit of the whole community. Do not underestimate the power of your voice. We don’t.

Throughout September and October, incoming first year and transfer students meet with a student leader on campus to build a relationship and explore your power and purpose at Augsburg University. Your student leader will reach out to you via your Augsburg email account to schedule a time to meet.

As an incoming Transfer or First Year student, you will have the opportunity

  • To connect with current student leaders with whom they may not necessarily connect to create understanding around shared interests, values, goals, and passions;
  • To begin to inform students’ sense of agency and community on campus; and
  • To ask any questions or share any concerns they have regarding their first few weeks on campus.

Engaged Student

Engaged Students operate from a mindset that campus and community change is a possibility, and that new realities can be realized. They build relationships and alliances with fellow students, staff, and faculty; and attempt to build their capacity by understanding others’ values, cultures, backgrounds, and experiences (adapted from Strom, 2006).

Contact Auggies Engage

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to your student leader or to the Auggies Engage team at auggiesengageprogram@augsburg.edu.

Marina Christensen Justice Award

Every year at Commencement, one graduating senior receives the Marina Christensen Justice Award for demonstrated dedication to community and working in solidarity with marginalized people. This award recognizes work that is in keeping with the personal and professional life of Marina Christensen Justice, who courageously and effectively reached out to disadvantaged people and communities.

Nominations are submitted in the spring with nominations for other Augsburg Leadership Awards, and are judged on the following criteria:

  • The depth and breadth of community involvement
  • A strong commitment to addressing the systemic roots of the issues
  • A personal and professional commitment to work with marginalized communities
  • Bold and courageous leadership
  • Authentic and sustained engagement with community and issues.

 

Minnesota Campus Compact Award Winners

Each year Minnesota Campus Compact presents awards at their annual statewide summit. At this year’s summit, an Augsburg student, staff member, and community partner were recognized for their leadership and collaborative work. The 2018 award recipients were:

Student Leadership Award: Janet Nguyen

As the student food shelf coordinator this year, Janet built a base of committed volunteers, increased participation and donations, and even navigated a successful recovery from a small fire. Janet brought a bold, equity-focused lens to the food shelf by diversifying offerings and working to destigmatize food insecurity.

Civic Engagement Steward Award: Jane Becker

Jane Becker, Augsburg’s Head Volleyball Coach, organizes more than 500 athletes and their coaches each year to engage with youth in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood and beyond. She has created new summer sports clinics, an on-campus homework help program, and an alternative spring break program for young people.

Community Partner Award: Cedar Riverside Community School

Cedar Riverside Community School is the only school in the Cedar Riverside constantly adapts to best serve the educational needs of an ever-changing population. School leaders and teaching staff are committed to deep, reciprocal partnership with Augsburg, so that CRCS and Augsburg students are prepared successful futures.

 

 

“Citizen Teachers” address teacher shortage in Rochester

 

Interested in education programs in Rochester? Learn more.

 

Three Solutions to Rochester’s Critical Teacher Shortage

By Kate H. Elliott

Each thread of the state’s teacher shortage has tangled into a giant, seemingly hopeless mess—leaving educators and communities somewhat paralyzed as to which string to sort out first.

But Kaycee Rogers, director of education at Augsburg College’s Rochester site, believes in Rochester’s nimble fingers. The overwhelming statistics, she said, aren’t factoring in the power of human energy, the collective strength of community, and the innovative connections mounting among educators and community leaders. Rogers is among a growing cadre of “citizen teachers” working together to increase teacher support and retention, remove legislative and licensure obstacles, and empower neighbors to fill vacant positions within the community’s second largest employer—Rochester Public Schools.

Complex, Mounting Problems

On the rise since the 1980s, Minnesota’s teacher shortage has achieved crisis levels in the past decade. The Minnesota Department of Education, for instance, reported hiring more than 3,500 teachers who lacked necessary licenses, with special education and English Learner teachers among the toughest positions to fill. And students in these populations are increasing at roughly the same rate as the decline of those licensed to teach them.

To wrap these factors in even more red tape—ahem, string—are mounting paperwork and licensure requirements, which are made worse by the fact that some required licenses are not offered at the state’s colleges and universities.

Embrace Diversity, Empower ‘Citizen Teachers’

But Rogers remains hopeful. She uses the phrase “citizen teacher” to reiterate the role of teachers in public life and the importance of community-focused, culturally-relevant education. Rogers said the solution is not “out there,” but within each city, within Rochester.

“Rochester is a resettlement hub for refugees; and with several industry leaders, including the Mayo Clinic, our community draws non-native English speakers, who often start out in the service industry,” Rogers said. “We want to reach out to people who look like our students, come from the same backgrounds—perhaps those already working with our students as teacher aides or in other supporting roles—to advance their education, and we want that education to celebrate all cultures, provide students with multiple entry points for understanding, and make a difference in our community.”

It’s well documented that students retain more and have a positive view of education when they relate to teachers and aren’t asked to check their heritage at the door, Rogers said. Growing teachers from Rochester’s diverse population will beget more teachers of color—as students see someone like them leading the class, they may want to teach the next generation, she added.

Adopt Community-Focused, Student-Led Learning

Rogers and other teacher educators in Rochester are focused on retaining teachers, particularly within the critical first five years (a period with the highest turnover rate). She said that efforts start with conversations that build into professional development and support networks that address challenges. Rogers stresses that incentives and infrastructure must coincide with initiatives to confront the roots of the shortage, including class sizes, paperwork loads, and appropriate student placement, especially for those with special needs.

Meanwhile, teacher educators and administrators are striving to improve classroom culture through support of meaningful, relevant learning experiences. As an example, Rogers shares work an Augsburg student is engaged in as part of her coursework on public achievement:

Heather Mabbitt, a special education teacher in Lyle, Minnesota, asked a group of first-12th graders: What is a problem in our community? Their response: Hunger, specifically that some students go without snack each day. Her next question: Well, what are we going to do about it? As a part of the answer, she is now guiding these students with physical and emotional disabilities to raise awareness and support for a snack pantry of healthy options.

“There’s no reason why students shouldn’t learn through experiences that matter to them, and we can give them the tools to make a difference now,” Rogers said. “We have fourth- and fifth-graders writing grants, speaking to community groups, navigating teamwork, and participating in democracy,” Rogers said. “It’s been amazing to watch our teachers transition to more of a coaching role, while students take the lead to apply classroom learning to issues and situations of meaning to them.”

Broaden the Scope of Licensures

This community-focused approach pairs well with the more comprehensive, inclusive approach emerging to address special populations. More and more colleges and universities are phasing out specializations in narrow disability categories and adopting broader licensures, like the Academic Behavioral Strategist. The ABS prepares teacher candidates to work across all classifications of mild to moderate disabilities.

“A comprehensive, inclusive approach, we believe, equips teachers to address the complex challenges of today’s classrooms and qualifies them for a wider range of teaching positions,” Rogers said. “Exposure to more teaching strategies, more specializations only helps teacher candidates adapt and innovate in order to provide students with multiple access points for understanding.”

 

Interested in education programs in Rochester? Learn more.

Jane Addams School for Democracy comes to a close

After twenty years of democratic education and practice, the Jane Addams School for Democracy met for the last time earlier this month. From the beginning, its founders sought to free and cultivate the talents, cultures, and interests of people from diverse backgrounds and traditions and engage in a minimally structured, non-hierarchical way that allows participants to shape the agenda. The Jane Addams School for Democracy brought immigrant families, college students and other community members together to do public work and learning. It was inspired by the vision of democracy, productive citizenship, and popular education held by settlement house pioneers like Jane Addams, who created Hull House in Chicago in 1889.

As we consider the current state of our democracy, the principles and practices of Jane Addams School are a much needed antidote to the polarization and division that colors public discourse. We have faith that the lessons of Jane Addams School can continue to support a more just and democratic world. In 2007, the Kettering Foundation published a book called Voices of Hope: The Story of the Jane Addams School for Democracy which features 22 essays by 12 Jane Addams School participants, including non-native English speakers, and more than 75 photos.

The Oz Behind the Curtain – Phil O’Neil: Public Achievement Coach

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PA Group: Animal Rescuers

PA Project: Community 3k Walk/Run Fundraiser

Often times, the education system can be seen as rigid and formulaic, limiting the potential of young people. Phil O’Neil, a three-year veteran public achievement coach, knows this well. However, he sees public achievement as a way to break the mold and this has inspired him to pursue a career as an educator.

Continue reading “The Oz Behind the Curtain – Phil O’Neil: Public Achievement Coach”