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COL Three who make a difference

In the past couple of months, I have met several people who have made a difference.

First is Calvin L. Guyer, "a financial adviser for a Minnesota-based firm." When he is not facilitating investment strategies for clients, gardening or woodworking, he is dedicated to his spouse, Jean, and their three children. The former active duty Air Force engineering officer contributes time to the Air Force Reserve, where Maj. Guyer is an academic liaison officer for the U.S. Air Force Academy, responsible for "assisting potential students, guidance counselors, Congressional representatives and state legislators through the Academy nomination process."

Guyer is also president-elect of the Rotary Club and a Gamehaven Council Boy Scouts of America vice president.

He has written technical reports and articles about "efficiency enhancement and cost-effective innovations." He contributed to "the logistical analysis which supported Desert Storm operations in the Persian Gulf War against Iraqi forces in 1991" and has applied his leadership skills to military and social service missions.

As expected, the investment analyst has a professional philosophy and objective: "To assist clients in the process of accumulating, preserving and transferring personal wealth," which stimulates social mobility and individual opportunity.

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Taxation and Educational Accountability of Minnesota (TEAofMN@juno.com) sponsored a March forum on public education at the Rochester Public Library. The activist organization favors high educational standards, fiscal accountability and parental participation. The featured speaker was Austin School Board member Kathryn Green.

The dynamic education reformer criticized the Minnesota Graduation Standards and Profile of Learning. Green galvanized her audience with stories of ignorance about the plan demonstrated by local and state officials. Green claimed that knowledgeable state legislators are determined to get rid of the federally sponsored Goals 2000.

Federal and state policies and Minnesota Education Standards, Green alleged, exclude parents and "dumb down educational standards" with misguided egalitarian nostrums that allow "everyone to succeed."

The University of Minnesota magna cum laude student of psychology, sociology and dental technology explained that her own high-achieving children suffered potential graduation penalties for taking challenging academic subjects and bypassing politically correct, community service requirements. "Knowledge-based learning," she warned, "is being replaced by group performance and vocational-oriented mandates which threaten liberal arts education and academic standards."

The Minnesota School to Work, K-12 reform plan, Green contended, "is cradle to career regimentation" if not involuntary servitude. When Green confronted a high-ranking state education official with the fact that a third of the state high school graduates require remedial mathematics and reading instruction in college, the official responded: "Those students shouldn't be in college, which is what the Work Force Development program is for."

Green believes the school-to-work plan "is exclusionary and denies choice and late options." She said state plans to merge school districts threaten parental input and local control of education. Green said intrusive student questionnaires that elicit "attitudes and family information" compromise "privacy, individual freedom and traditional family values." Green's remedies: "A back to basics education, rote memory to train the brain, and rigorous early reading and writing education to nurture lifelong learning and good study habits."

Green recommends the resources and reform ideas of the Maple River Education Coalition.

Capt. Harry R. Kerr of the Olmsted County Sheriff's Department is another contributor to the community he serves. Educated in Rochester schools, Kerr earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice at what is now St. Mary's University in Winona, has taught college law enforcement classes, and has been a state and national training coordinator.

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Kerr served in the U.S. Marines and Army National Guard on active and reserve duty, retiring in 1994 as a command sergeant major after earning numerous medals, citations and achievement awards.

Kerr's professional path from patrol division to investigator to training and crime-prevention division director marks an exemplary career. Even with those responsibilities, Kerr has devoted his extra time to a plethora of social service, veterans, health care, home construction and youth activity projects.

To protect and serve is more than a law enforcement slogan to Harry Kerr. A "thank you" or "a tear of joy" is his reward.

"I have made bad decisions in my own life and can't take them back," Kerr explains, "but I can make a difference." Why has Kerr spent so much of his time giving and sharing? Without hesitation, he replied, "When someone needs help, it's the right thing to do."

Ostrom is a former Rochester Community and Technical College instructor who writes a regular column for the Post-Bulletin.

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