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Community meets to stress civic education in schools

Amanda Holt MillerPost Independent Staff

RIFLE – Elected officials, teachers and community members gathered at the Learning Opportunity Center to discuss the importance of civics education in schools Monday night.”This is the very first of these community forums in the state,” said Jill Conrad, director of the Colorado Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools. “You guys are the guinea pigs.”Conrad represents a group that hopes to get to the bottom of why there has been a steady decline in civic participation and focus on civic education over the last 30 years. The campaign is operating with a grant from the Carnegie Institute.The grant funds three community discussions to help Re-2 determine how it can provide better civic education to students.”This will help them develop new programs,” Conrad said. “We don’t have grant money to fund new programs. But a lot of programs might not need funding, just people’s time.”The forum of about 30 people broke into three small discussion groups, and members talked about what a civic-minded person is and what schools can do to help all students become civic-minded.One group’s members included superintendent Gary Pack, Rifle city councilman and Rifle Middle School social studies teacher Sandy Vaccaro, County Commissioner Trési Houpt, active community member June Renfro, Marcia Kent from Wells Fargo Bank, and Joyce Christensen, with the Department of Human Services. That group discussed, at length, cultural differences and changing dynamics having to do with an ever-increasing Latino population in western Garfield County and the importance of incorporating technology in order to engage all students. They also discussed incorporating programs like Kids Voting and creating things like mock city council in order to get students more interested in politics.”As an elected official and retired teacher, I believe the public has a lot of trouble getting participation,” Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert said.He hoped the forum would help to develop solutions for that trouble.The next meeting will be at the Learning Opportunity Center Feb. 6 from 6-8 p.m. The public is welcome.Contact Amanda Holt Miller: 625-3245 ext. 103ahmiller@postindependent.com


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