History In Halstead

Location: Halstead, Kansas, United States

This is my seventh year at Halstead which is also where I live with my wife and my soon to be two year old daughter.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Two Disturbing News Stories

The role of religion in schools and freedom of religion have always been hot topics in schools but two recent stories have me a bit worried. From Maryland where schools are not allowed to mention the role of God in the pilgrims first Thanksgiving:
Young students across the state read stories about the Pilgrims and Native Americans, simulate Mayflower voyages, hold mock feasts and learn about the famous meal that temporarily allied two very different groups.

But what teachers don't mention when they describe the feast is that the Pilgrims not only thanked the Native Americans for their peaceful three-day indulgence, but repeatedly thanked God.

"We teach about Thanksgiving from a purely historical perspective, not from a religious perspective," said Charles Ridgell, St. Mary's County Public Schools curriculum and instruction director.

And from California a teacher may not show the Declaration of Independence:

A California teacher has been barred by his school from giving students documents from American history that refer to God -- including the Declaration of Independence. Williams asserts in the lawsuit that since May he has been required to submit all of his lesson plans and supplemental handouts to Vidmar for approval, and that the principal will not permit him to use any that contain references to God or Christianity.

Among the materials she has rejected, according to Williams, are excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's journal, John Adams' diary, Samuel Adams' "The Rights of the Colonists" and William Penn's "The Frame of Government of Pennsylvania."

As a history teacher these two stories really disturb me. The idea that some people want to leave out important parts of our past is sad. We should have the faith that our teachers can present material in a way that embraces cultures and ideas and we all should have the faith that our students have the ability to grasp what is right. There are many interpretations of history and personally, I believe the best way to make history useful is to present as much of it as possible, not leave out events or documents because they might foster discussion and debate.

Feel free to add your opinions.

PSU To the Semifinals

The Gorillas beat Northwest this past Saturday to advance to the Division II semifinals. The final score was 50-36 with Northwest leading the entire first half but PSU made a great comeback in the second half. It looked bad with PSU down by three after halftime and then fumbling on their first two possessions in the third quarter. Still, the resilient Gorillas comeback and but up 38 second half points. The Gorillas will play at home this Saturday versus North Dakota which beat Pittsburg last year in the playoffs

Final note: Pittsburg State set the all time college record for points scored in a season.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

More Extra Credit

I have been doing research up at the National Archives in Kansas City. The focus of my research has been government policies during World War I and how they affected Kansas. During my research I have had the opportunity to see a lot of the Enemy Alien Registration Forms that people of German, Austrian, Bulgarian or Russian descent had to fill out. I look back at that chapter in history, and believe it was a mistake and wrong of the government to do this. These people were American citizens, who had done nothing wrong and there really was no reason to think they would. I consider it one of the mistakes the government has made.

FOR EXTRA CREDIT: What is another specific government mistake? This can be a government action, military decision, court decision, presidential action, or law passed. Tell about the decision and why it was such a mistake.

GRADING: Up to 10 points based on how much history you give about the decision, and your explanation as to why it was a mistake.

Pizza Hut and Olive Garden are the Best?

Last week the Wichita Eagle published its readers' "Best Of..." Article. I agree with some of its decisions such as Yia Yias with the Best Fine Food, Players as the Best Sports Restaurant and Kobes as one of the Best Asian Restaurants.

My concern was the large amount of chain restaurants that made the list. Pizza Hut had the Best Pizza, Olive Garden had the Best Italian food (I am not sure you can even call their food Italian), Red Lobster the best seafood and Outback the best steak. Personally, I think its sad when the local small restaurant do not get the credit they deserve. All of the restaurants listed above have multiple locations in the Wichita area and nation wide advertising. That is the base of their popularity but the quality and customer service is lacking. At most of these restaurants I feel like I am just being "processed" through a meal with nobody really caring if I enjoyed it or not.

FOR DISCUSSION: What is your favorite restaurant in Wichita? Tell why.


The Pittsburg State Gorillas won their first playoff game agaisnt the Colorado School Of Mines. The final score was 70-35 with the Gorillas jumping to a 42-7 lead in the first half. The Orediggers came into the game with an undefeated record but could not match the Gorilla offense and committed way too many turnovers to win.

This means the Gorillas will now host Northwest Missouri. This is a rematch of a game just two weeks ago. Pittsburg State won 21-17 at Arrowhead Stadium to win the MIAA Championship but the stakes are even higher now. Lucky for PSU, the game is in Pittsburg and the crownd should be large, maybe 10,000 or more. Gametime is noon, GOO LUCK GORILLAS

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Sorry For No Updates

Its been a pretty busy week. I was gone from school for two days and then I had a presentations to give this past Friday. All went well and I accomplished quite a bit this week. In particular, I was at the National Archives in Kansas City doing research. I found some really interesting information on the US homefront during World War I. In particular, things going on here in Kansas. Some of the material will be helpful in my class.

Things will continue to be busy this week with the start of Basketball and preparing for my daughter's baptism (I will miss the Pitt State game next week because of this but I think we can all agree my daughter needs to come before Pitt State football). After that, we go on our first long trip with Lindsey which could be an adventure.

This brings me to one of my big pet peeves: While driving on the highways I can not stand when I go to pass someone and they speed up as I am passing them to make it tougher to pass. Do people not understand that they are causing a dangerous situation? Are they mad that someone is passing them? I do not mind people passing me but it seems that some People take it as an affront that someone would pass them. It seems logical and nice to slow down when someone passes you to make it easier.

FOR DISCUSSION: What courteous things do you do for other drivers on the road?

Sunday, November 07, 2004

The Great Divide

The election is now part of history and George Bush will serve a second term. I think a lot of people were surprised by the turn out and as I read more news reports a lot of people are very upset by the news. Let me give you a sample:

NEW YORK - A 25-year-old man from Georgia who was apparently distraught over President Bush's re-election shot and killed himself at ground zero.

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The number of U.S. citizens visiting Canada's main immigration Web site has shot up six-fold as Americans flirt with the idea of abandoning their homeland after President Bush's election win this week.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The summer of love has given way to the autumn of fear in San Francisco, a liberal stronghold where residents bitterly disappointed by the Bush victory are in no mood to reach out and mend divisions. Rather, they are waving "United States of Canada" maps, redrawn to show Canada extending down to include California, New England and the other so-called "blue states" that voted decisively for Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry in the U.S. presidential race.

"I have family in Idaho, but I told my wife we're not going to visit them now. It's all Republicans there," said Ron Schmidt, a public relations executive. "We have family in Indiana and I don't want to go there either."

I supported President Bush in the election and I was glad he won. However, had he lost I had no plan for the extreme measures I read above. The anger over a fair election which saw huge voter turnout really surprises me. Isn’t this the way our government is supposed to work? The division between some people in our nation is a bit disconcerting.
The split reminds of one of the best articles I have ever read, One Nation, Slightly Divided from the Atlantic Monthly (A very blue magazine). It details some of the differences between “Red America” and “Blue America”. Here is a sample:

The place I'm talking about goes by different names. Some call it America. Others call it Middle America. It has also come to be known as Red America, in reference to the maps that were produced on the night of the 2000 presidential election. People in Blue America, which is my part of America, tend to live around big cities on the coasts. People in Red America tend to live on farms or in small towns or small cities far away from the coasts. Things are different there.

Everything that people in my neighborhood do without motors, the people in Red America do with motors. We sail; they powerboat. We cross-country ski; they snowmobile. We hike; they drive ATVs. We have vineyard tours; they have tractor pulls. When it comes to yard work, they have rider mowers; we have illegal aliens.

Different sorts of institutions dominate life in these two places. In Red America churches are everywhere. In Blue America Thai restaurants are everywhere. In Red America they have QVC, the Pro Bowlers Tour, and hunting. In Blue America we have NPR, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and socially conscious investing. In Red America the Wal-Marts are massive, with parking lots the size of state parks. In Blue America the stores are small but the markups are big. You'll rarely see a Christmas store in Blue America, but in Red America, even in July, you'll come upon stores selling fake Christmas trees, wreath-decorated napkins, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer collectible thimbles and spoons, and little snow-covered villages.
We in the coastal metro Blue areas read more books and attend more plays than the people in the Red heartland. We're more sophisticated and cosmopolitan—just ask us about our alumni trips to China or Provence, or our interest in Buddhism. But don't ask us, please, what life in Red America is like. We don't know. We don't know who Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins are, even though the
novels they have co-written have sold about 40 million copies over the past few years. We don't know what James Dobson says on his radio program, which is listened to by millions. We don't know about Reba or Travis. We don't know what happens in mega-churches on Wednesday evenings, and some of us couldn't tell you the difference between a fundamentalist and an evangelical, let alone describe what it means to be a Pentecostal. Very few of us know what goes on in Branson, Missouri, even though it has seven million visitors a year, or could name even five NASCAR drivers, although stock-car races are the best-attended sporting events in the country. We don't know how to shoot or clean a rifle. We can't tell a military officer's rank by looking at his insignia. We don't know what soy beans look like when they're growing in a field.

FOR DISCUSSION: What do you believe is the biggest difference between Red America and Blue America today?

Pitt State Goes Undefeated!!!

The Pittsburg State Gorillas beat their main rival Northwest Missouri 21-17 this past Saturday! The crowd of over 25,000 was the second largest crowd in Division II history. This means that the Gorillas went undefeated at 11-0 and will remain #1 in the nation going into the post season. They will get a bye week and then play a home game. Needless to say, I am overjoyed.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Honors US History Sites

For Andrew Johnson's impeachment




Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Find A Career Based On Your Skills

I was surfing around the internet and came across a pretty cool little site from the Occupational Information Network. They have a page that allows you to mark the skills you have and it will return what jobs match your skills. It only takes a couple of minutes and maybe can lead you to a carrer.


FOR DISCUSSION: Post the job that you are best matched with and tell me your impressions of the job. (I am best suited to be a Supervisor of Police and Detectives)

Monday, November 01, 2004

A Great Song

I was watching a rerun of the VH-1 Hip Hop Honors and they played a great song, Bridging The Gap. It was by Nas and his father, Olu Dara. They joined together for a great Hip Hop/Blues crossover that is part music histiry and part family history. You can hear it here:

Bridging the Gap

For Discussion: Let me know your opinion of the song.

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