Ritchie Encourages Focus on Literacy at P.C. Workshop Breakfast
Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie stressed the importance of literacy, especially in young people, at the teacher workshop breakfast Wednesday morning at Pine City High School.
Ritchie spoke to a packed room of educators for about 30 minutes. He then answered questions from a panel made up of Pine County Auditor Cathy Clemmer, teacher and Pine City Councilman Brian Scholin, former Pine City civics teacher and Athletic Director Wally Connaker, retired educator Chris McHugh, and Pine City social studies teacher Jim Hanson.
Ritchie said he wanted to share with the teachers the connection between the school system and how it can help develop better educated and more informed voters.
Ritchie says the 2008 election proved there is an increase in interest and participation in politics among teens. Ritchie adds that to keep teens excited about government, it is important for teachers to tie politics in with student’s other interests.
Ritchie, is a former social studies teacher, and says it is important to not only get young students into reading, but get them excited for reading a wide variety of subjects.
K-12 Curriculum Director, Dr. Candy Ames, helped coordinate Ritchie’s appearance at the breakfast. She says she hopes that teachers walk away with the message that “literacy is vitally important to our democracy.” Ames adds that this message is particularly important this year because of the upcoming reading, language arts, and media curriculum review. She says understanding government and politics means a better understanding of all aspects life.
Minnesota took the national spotlight during the U.S. Senate recount. Ritchie was in the middle of the entire process, which included a pair of recounts. Pine County Auditor Cathy Clemmer says in the wake of the Senate election, now is the time to push students to understand how and why government is a subject they should follow.
Connaker says staff at Pine City Schools are using unique strategies and programs to get young people prepared to head to the voting booths when they are of voting age.
Ritchie was asked if he forsees the voting age in Minnesota changing from 18 to 16 in the near future. He said it is a topic he believes will gain moment over the next few years.