Education #Featured

The New School Year: History Will Guide the Future

New school years always bring new challenges for children, parents and teachers. This school year, though, promises to be much trickier, because we are now debating United States History.

Remember history? That’s the class that isn’t tested at the end of the year by the great national testing monopoly, Pearson. The PARCC tests focus on non-fiction readings, which allows for more use of historical documents on the test, but there’s no real history or context that a student has to master in order to answer the questions.

For decades we’ve focused on language arts and mathematics as the key components of K-12 education, relentlessly testing students in those subjects. And what has your school district likely spent a good deal of money on over the last few years? STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) or STEAM (ibid., but add Arts). Coding classes are now part of the curriculum in many states as required business and personal finance courses. They get lots of press. And, yes, United States History is required in all states, but far too many of them require only one year of it. And with no summary test, save for a final exam at the end of the class, history has lost a good deal of influence in the curriculum.

We are now paying the price.

As this new school year begins, teachers will be asked to address the explosive issues that are daily in the media concerning our history and what it means. How should we treat Confederate statues and monuments? What place do hate groups such as the KKK and the American Nazi Party have in a country with a strong First Amendment? What should we do about immigration and children who were brought here by undocumented parents? And of course, we seem to be debating President Trump’s behavior, tweets and spur-of-the-moment policy declarations on a minute-by-minute basis, not to mention his speculative knowledge of historical events.

This is the environment in which America’s school teachers must operate this academic year. We are the ones who will be the first point of contact for many children who are feeling the anxiety and divisiveness that has taken hold in our society. Remember that as much as any adult is trying to make sense of what’s happening in our society, children experience these events on a magnified scale. They have less of the emotional regulation necessary to confront explosive debates that adults have and they have little context by which to weigh the consequences of what they’re learning. Great teachers recognize these deficits and conduct their classes so as to support students, to teach them civil behavior, to make sure students respect differences, and to calmly appeal to their students’ intelligence, humanity, and sense of justice.

Of course, some would argue that if teachers had done this in the past, then we wouldn’t be at this place in our history where there is so much disagreement and division. This would be a tragic conclusion. Did any of your teachers teach you to hate? To insult your classmates? To steal? To plagiarize? Of course not.

The simple truth is that teachers can only be as effective as the communities in which we teach, and if a community, or the country, is dysfunctional, then that will be reflected in the schools. We see students for only a portion of the day. The media, social and otherwise, takes over from there. Together with parents, teachers can only plant the seeds of knowledge; society and common sense have to do the rest.

That’s why this school year will be more of a challenge than most years, but I have no doubt that America’s school teachers will do their best, keep their emotions in check, teach from the heart and the head, advocate for every one of their students, and proudly represent themselves as doing one of the most important and difficult jobs in this country.

I wish all of my fellow teachers a happy new school year full of joy and wonder. May we learn as much about our students as they learn from us.

For more, go to www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives or Twitter @rigrundfest

Barack Obama #Politics #women

Another Historic Moment – Obama Calls Women Reporters Only at Press Conference

obama reporter

This guy is making so much history, I’m almost having whiplash trying to keep up! Today’s moment in history-making may seem like small potatoes to some, but below the surface, Mr. Obama’s decision to call on women reporters only during his last press conference of the year is, in essence, a civil rights moment.

Women, although they do the same jobs as men, still make about 25% less than men do for the same work, and in the White House press corps the male domination remains true. In countless presidential press conferences the big boys pull up their pants, sit back with their legs crossed looking down their nose with a smug look waiting for their inevitable turn to match wits with presidents. And previous presidents knew that calling on these smug lugs was the way to get their messages out.

But here comes Barack Obama. Already sporting a brand new historic moment with his Cuba decision, the president wasn’t done yet. He willfully chose to release his internal civil rights activist and recognized the many contributions of the women of the White House press corps.

Former ABC News correspondent Ann Compton, the first woman to report on the White House full-time for a network and who covered the beat for 40 years, said that never before has a president only taken questions from women during a solo press conference.

Do your thing Mr. Obama, do your thing! Keep the history moments coming!

white house tweets

Domestic Policies #Education #New Jersey #News

Common Core: At Least the Website Works

image

I am nothing if not a good sport and an optimist by temperament, so when I read this NJ Spotlight article about a website full of great information and resources for teaching the Common Core Curriculum Standards, I took a look. The site, njcore.org, is well-designed, if a bit busy, and you can sign up to post resources.

If you teach Language Arts and Mathematics, there are probably some good resources for the effective teacher, but as a high school history teacher, there was nothing on the site. Nada. Zilch. Not even a pretense that teaching history is in any way important or even part of the curriculum. Perhaps more will be added later, but at this point, the state has no interest in engaging anyone who doesn’t teach the tested subjects. And that’s to be expected because it’s been clear for a couple of years that the NJ Department of Education is focused on testing to the exclusion of a rich, varied, integrative curriculum..

Clearly this is still a work in progress and there’s a distinct possibility that it will grow into a valued resource. It has a good deal of competition from other, more established sites and its success will be determined by how well it meets teachers’ needs. The comments on the NJ Spotlight article are negative so far, with this being the most telling:

So, I click on the link in the article, then I click on NJMC, I choose Mathematics, then Kindergarten, I click on Unit 1, then I click on SLO 1 Count by ones up to 10.
Then I click on the 3 lesson plans, choose the first one listed called “Subitizing ” (huh???) and Lesson Seed 7.EE.A.2.

It’s a lesson on area using the expression 25(x+10)-13a.

For Kindergarten?

Another lesson says there are 18 cookies in each batch requiring 2 cups of flower. How much flower for 12 dozen?

Kindergarten?
Stay tuned.
For more please go to:
www.facebook.com/WhereDemocracyLives and Twitter @rigrundfest  

Barack Obama #Politics #Republican

Is Barack Obama And The Black Community At Odds?

Recently,  I wrote a article on this blog  titled ‘Why Blacks Left The Republican Party’ which sparked a discussion between a co-writer here at EzKool.com,  Son Of Man and I. I’ve posted it here:

Son Of Man: Yes, the vast major­ity of black peo­ple in the United States have been loyal to the Demo­c­ra­tic party since the days of Roo­sevelt. It has become quite clear that the demo­c­ra­tic party is tak­ing the black vote for granted. Black peo­ple in the U.S. have not shown the polit­i­cal savvy nec­es­sary to extract the pos­si­b­li­ties of what Amer­ica has to offer, polit­i­cally & eco­nom­i­cally speak­ing. In this 2 party sys­tem, the black pop­u­la­tion’s rela­tion­ship with the Repub­li­can party is so cold that its taken for granted that the black vote will be cast for the per­cieved ‘lesser of two evils’ in the Demo­c­ra­tic party. The black vote shouldnt be auto­mat­i­cally Demo­c­rat or Repub­li­can. The black vote if polit­i­cal savvy were in play would be cast for the party who’s can­di­dates addresses the “black agenda” as pre­sented to them by the black com­mu­nity. 

Amy: Well—I’d wager to think that the idea of cast­ing your vote for a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date that point­edly addresses the “black agenda”, especially if he or she is the first Af-Am pres­i­dent of the the US, or any other eth­nic­ity that cam­paigns on any par­tic­u­lar race’s issue is not very savvy. I think a big prob­lem with many Blacks–like Smi­ley and West for instance who openly dissed Obama cuz they felt he wasn’t cam­paign­ing enough on black issues–should have had the savvy to know that white Democ­rats were not going to pitch in and help elect him if he had done so. And he couldn’t win with the Black vote alone, obvi­ously. Yes, I know that white can­di­dates do it all the time, but our POTUS is not white. And with a coun­try that’s 15% Black, Obama had to be the adult in the room and show that he was going to be the Pres­i­dent for All The People–as corny as that sounds. I think he’s hop­ing that Blacks will under­stand this and also under­stand that he knows the his­tory lead­ing up to him, his beau­ti­ful Black wife and kids being in the White­house, and that he hasn’t for­got­ten who and what was respon­si­ble for that. Work­ing on a more “uni­ver­sal agenda” can’t help but include Blacks, right?

Please check out this video on Youtube: “Black Intel­lec­tu­als Pour Hate on Obama’s Speech!“

Son Of Man: Of course run­ning a cam­paign as a “black can­di­date” is not only not savvy, its not right. That type of think­ing is not fit for the office of the pres­i­dency. Uti­liz­ing broad, gen­eral tac­tics to resolve issues that are unique will not work. The eco­nomic woes for peo­ple of color are far worse than the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion and unem­ploy­ment num­bers for peo­ple of color are more than dou­ble that of the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. Would the pre­scrip­tion for a com­mon cold be the same as the pre­scrip­tion for walk­ing pnu­mo­nia? is there a dif­fer­ence between an eco­nomic reces­sion and an eco­nomic depres­sion? The unem­ploy­ment rate for blacks in the coun­try put the black pop­u­la­tion at depres­sion sta­tus. This needs to be addressed specif­i­cally while tend­ing the needs of the coun­tries eco­nomic woes in gen­eral. Your point seems to be that of an abused wife thats so used to being mis-used, mis­treated and over­looked that she her­self makes excuses for her abuser. The pres­i­dent must be held account­able to do the right thing, not just whats accept­able to whites. He him­self said that he wouldnt gov­ern to be re-elected, that he would gov­ern to effect change. Well the Mr.President act on behalf of whats right and let those who need to catch up, catch up. You don’t digress back­wards, you move for­wards. If hav­ing a black­man in office means we have to con­tinue being the dirty lit­tle secret, then put Bush back in office and lets get this thing over with.

Amy: If your expect­ing one Black­man to rec­tify an entire race’s indig­na­tion in this coun­try for over 400 yrs in just 4 short years–a man who’s Amer­i­can nation­al­ity is being chal­lenged everyday, adamantly, by his polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion, a man who stepped into two wars and a major eco­nomic reces­sion his first day in office, a man who’s own party shows divi­sion against his poli­cies, a nuclear dis­as­ter in Japan, major earth­quakes in Haiti,the worst oil spill in the Nations his­tory and a per­va­sive racism that still beats strong in the heart of this country—than I think you might be a bit delu­sional. I imag­ine the changes Obama is set­ting into motion are of a more tumul­tuous nature. Like a peb­ble rolling down a hill and pick­ing up mass and size and speed as it rolls along. Jobs, healthcare reform, education…are these not our issues? What do you pro­pose he do differently? The ball is rolling. You wanna see it get bigger–get him into office for another 4 years.

Son Of Man: Your point is well taken. Pres­i­dent Obama’s mag­nif­i­cent steady hand in the face of all that he has inher­ited has been just that, mag­nif­i­cent. I am not delu­sional at all. I believe that our pres­i­dent has THE most dif­fi­cult job of all time. Only a fool would dis­count what another has accom­plished of good. Allow me to share some clar­ity from the smoke screen pro­vided for you by the cir­cus parad­ing as news. This is INsight from out­side the box; If Amer­ica is going to solve her cur­rent woes, she MUST con­sider the spe­cific issues that plague a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of her pop­u­la­tion. Issues that Amer­ica her­self had no small hand in cre­at­ing and per­pet­u­at­ing. A chain is only as strong as its weak­est link, have you for­got­ten that its within YOUR life­time that blacks faced lynch mobs for dar­ing to attend a decent school to be edu­cated? Have you for­got­ten the counter intel­li­gence pro­grams launched in YOUR life­time against any black indi­vid­ual or orga­ni­za­tion that dared to inspire the dis­in­fran­chised pop­u­la­tion? Have you for­got­ten that the hun­dreds of years of black chat­tel slav­ery made Amer­ica the rich­est most pow­er­ful coun­try in the world? In the game of pol­i­tics, its con­ve­nient to for­get. But in the world out­side of the one pro­vided by the ‘pow­ers that be’, know this.… uni­ver­sal law which we are ALL under, does not for­get. Guess what. We mat­ter. WE MATTER. We are here. What would I have him do dif­fer­ently you ask? for starters id ask our dear brother pres­i­dent to stop these ludi­cris wars which are cost­ing tens of bil­lions monthly. Can you imag­ine what can be done to rebuild and restruc­ture the cities of Amer­ica in gen­eral and the black pop­u­la­tion in par­tic­u­lar? Or dont we mat­ter? The banks cer­tainly mat­tered when it was time to bail their asses out. How about using the jus­tice dept to inves­ti­gate why over 50% of the prison pop­u­la­tion is black males of which the vast major­ity are incar­cer­ated for drug related offenses when theres not one sta­tis­tic avail­able that doesnt tell you that white men are the over­whelm­ing major­ity ille­gal drug users. How about using some of that mil­i­tary testos­terone to stop the atroc­i­ties in the Sudan and across Africa? Or dont we mat­ter? Hey, black pres­i­dent must be held account­able by his base, black or not. Busy or not. We mat­ter.
.
Amy: I will concede this SOM: That just as our Africans ances­tors have said, “It takes a vil­lage to raise a child”, so will it take “our vil­lage” to raise this Pres­i­dent to be OUR Pres­i­dent as well as the rest of the country’s. Hope­fully, with con­struc­tive crit­i­cism, skill­fully applied pres­sure tem­pered with solid sup­port and con­fi­dence, Black folks can strike the bal­ance. And what Amer­ica does, the world will fol­low.

As Ezra Grant, our publisher, says: “Obama said yes WE can, not yes I can!“
Peace.

Son Of Man: Just construc­tive criticism to our dear pres­i­dent and the Amer­i­can fam­ily… with love, peace and bless­ings. Son of Man

———————————————————

Don’t worry, SOM and I are still friends lol!

AND COINCIDENTALLY, one of my favorite writer’s of several genres from science fiction to political discourse, Walter Mosley, appeared on GritTv last night covering a similar topic of discussion with it’s host, Laura Flanders.

In his new book, ‘Twelve Steps Towards Political Revelation’, Mosley says that ordinary people must begin to use politicians as the tools that they are–just as corporations do–and demand what we need from them in an organized, conscientious and informed agenda. It will be the People who will make politicians into the heroes we expect them to be…and that includes our President.

Politics #Ronald Reagan #Tax #United States

The Lesson of Not Taxing The Rich in Hard Economic Times

If history is to be our guide, then why aren’t we doing what’s already historically proven to work? The refusal by congressional Republicans to raise the taxes of the rich in these hard economic times makes as much sense as pouring water into the ocean. And this refusal goes against all that history has taught us.

According to a report written by Larry Beinhart, “History shows that when spending is cut — in the name of balancing the budget — recessions immediately follow. It makes sense, therefore, to look back at government tax and spending policies during the Depression and what the results were. ” Mr. Beinhart writes in detail some very interesting historical facts:

  • 1932 — Hoover raises the top tax rate from to 25 to 63 percent.
  • 1933 — Roosevelt comes into office. He begins spending at the same time that new tax hike comes into effect. The Depression bottoms out.
  • 1934 — Recovery begins. The GNP rises 7.7 percent, unemployment falls to 21.7 percent.
  • 1935 — New government spending on public works and rural electrification. A push to strengthen labor and raise wages. New taxes through the creation of Social Security.
  • 1936 — The top tax rate is raised again. This time to 79 percent. GNP grows a record 14.1 percent; unemployment falls even further.

Middle class Americans have carried this country on their backs for far too long. Since Ronald Regan took office in the 80’s and introduced the concept of trickle down economics, the concentration was placed on making the rich pay less in taxes while providing them with unlimited loopholes, in the hopes that when they succeed, the middle class will succeed. That concept has failed and over the last 30 years, the rich continued getting richer while the middle class fell more and more into poverty.

So here we have our lesson in history.  At a time when this country went through what is now called The Second Great Depression, all Americans, especially the rich, bore the responsibility, each paying according to his/her means. Today however, the lie of the sucess of a trickle down theory to boost a failing economy is still engraved in our minds, and the congressional Republicans are determined to keep it that way.

Read Mr. Larry Beinhart’s Report here.

democrats #Dick Cheney #Politics #Republican #Ronald Reagan #United States

Reducing The Deficit Is Not In A Republican’s D.N.A

Republicans have fooled Americans into thinking they’re all for cutting the deficit. And if you listen to them long enough and fail to do the most minimal of research, you will tend to believe the lies. But here’s a little breakdown from Robert J. Elisberg that shows how concerned Republicans were when the deficit exploded… under Republican Presidents.

During the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the national debt increased a combined 35.6%. It was the largest debt increase in U.S. history. Mr. Reagan alone tripled the national debt from $997 billion to $2.85 trillion.

Yet Republicans didn’t complain, didn’t rise up in anger, didn’t revolt. In fact, what Republicans did do was lionize Ronald Reagan as a patron saint, the near-God of conservatives.

Under George W. Bush, the national debt increased by a combined 27.1%. The U.S. budget went from a $128 billion surplus to a $482 billion deficit. The national debt doubled from $5.7 trillion to $10.7 trillion.

And there was no outcry by Republicans. Republicans didn’t complain, didn’t rise up in anger, didn’t revolt. Even when Vice President Dick Cheney was quoted, “Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” Republicans didn’t complain.

In Bill Clinton’s administration, the national debt decreased. It went down by a combined 9.7%. Further — he balanced the U.S. budget.

And yet Mr. Clinton didn’t become a hero to conservatives, even the vaunted fiscal ones. The mere mention of his name still today causes body twitches.

Consider, too, that in every full administration since Nixon-Ford in 1973 up through George W. Bush in 2008 — EVERY national debt increase in America has occurred during a Republican administration. And EVERY reduction of national debt has occurred during a Democratic administration.

To this day, Republicans — that party of supposed “fiscal responsibility” — slam the Jimmy Carter presidency for incompetence. Yet the national debt went down 3.3% during the Carter administration.

Yea, there are those who refuses to do the google, and see for themselves. These are the unfortunate souls who still put their belief in the promises of the Republican party that they will “reduce the deficit.” But history is more than a subject taught in school, it also teaches us that those who fail to understand their history, tend to repeat it.

Read the rest of the article here

CNN #Michele Bachmann #Slavery #United States

No Bachmann, You Cannot Re-Write Our History!

Republican Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is a trip! Really, she is!

Mrs. Bachmann spoke over the weekend at an Iowans For Tax Relief event, and either tried to remake history, or give her version of what she thought happened, in regards to how people were treated back in the founding days of this nation.

The Congresswoman, who has presidential ambitions for 2012, said that everyone who came to these shores, whether willfully or through slavery, “were all the same,” when they arrived.  She said;

“How unique in all of the world, that one nation that was the resting point from people groups all across the world. It didn’t matter the color of their skin, it didn’t matter their language, it didn’t matter their economic status.

“Once you got here, we were all the same. Isn’t that remarkable?”

Another claim by Mrs Bachmann was that the founding fathers did all they could to end slavery. She claimed, “”we also know that the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States.” Bachmann also claimed,

“I think it is high time that we recognize the contribution of our forbearers who worked tirelessly — men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”

Gone from her history book is the fact that many of the founding fathers owned slaves, and yes, history showed that John Quincy Adams became a vocal advocate to end slavery, but he wasn’t a founding father and he also died in 1848 before the Emancipation Proclamation was signed in 1863.

Anderson Cooper however, heard these false claims of Mrs. Bachmann – who probably thought the event wasn’t being recorded and no one would hear the lies she was telling. Mr. Cooper, host of CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, featured Bachmann’s claims on a segment of his show called “Keeping Them Honest.”

And that he did. Anderson give the lying Bachmann a lesson in American History. He said Bachmann’s comments “are either a deliberate rewriting of our history, or signs that she has a shaky grasp on our history.”

See Anderson Cooper’s Keeping Them Honest segment below: