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, April 24, 2005

Field Trip On Monday

I will be taking one of my history classes to Abilene on Monday to go through the brand new Five Star Leadership Center. I am nervous about it because I think I could have better prepared theses kids and I am afraid they won't get into the simulation as well as they should but we will just have to wait and see. We are just a pilot school since I am on the advisory board but I think that it will end up being an excellent educational program.

Check Out This Discussion

At EconLog there was a good post dealing with a speech by Vernon Smith (for those of you who do not know he won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002 and lets give props to Kansas since he got his Masters Degree from KU: Go hawks). Anyway while his talk was good the dicussion of the comments afterwards over the difference between the similarities and differences between state enforced redistribution and theft is a great read. Check out:

Vernon Smith on Globalization, April 21, 2005

Treading On Dangerous Ground

Conservative Senators in Washington are entering into dangerous ground. Republicans are upset that Democrats are threatening filibusters on judges that would easily be appointed in a full vote. Senator Frist defends the Republican actions by saying "Our judiciary must be independent, impartial and fair. When we think judicial decisions are outside mainstream American values, we will say so. But we must also be clear that the balance of power among all three branches requires respect — not retaliation. I won't go along with that." To retaliate against this threatened filibuster the conservatives are proposing the nuclear option. This would ban filibusters on judges.

Personally, I see this as very dangerous. As sad as it is to see the Democrats hold up these nominations I think the Republicans promoting the nuclear option are wrong. They are being short sightened in thinking that they will never be in the minority and might want this filibuster option later on down the road. Also, this method of changing the rules in the middle of the game seems a bit crazy. I understand their frustration but this is the Constitution that we are talking about and this type of bending the rules is unreasonable. We will see what happens but I hope this activist type action is not successful.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

History Isn't Relevant???

For those of you who do not believe that history influences actions to day, then read the following post:

China Rejects Japan's Demand for Apology

An Interesting Coincidence

Just this past week in class we were dicussing the Korean and Vietnam War. It was a great question and answer period that had some very good questions and follow up discussion. I really enjoyed it and I think it was good for the students. Anyway, one of the subjects that we talked about was teh Pueblo Incident. Right after the discussion I came across this article about the current status of the USS Pueblo. Take note of the comments from the tourist pamplets (who would take a vaction to North Korea??)

PYONGYANG (AFP) - In North Korea's decades-long struggle with the United States, it is perhaps the Communist nation's favourite trophy.

The USS Pueblo, a 53.8 metre-long (176.5 foot-long) ship the North Koreans seized in 1968 in a move that almost brought the nations to war, remains docked in one of the most prominent positions of the Taedong River in Pyongyang.

Foreigners are brought to the Pueblo on government-controlled tour packages and media visits to recall the time North Korea, as a tourist pamphlet says, brought the "US imperialists ... to their knees".

"Although the government of the US submitted the surrender documents, the Pueblo couldn't return to its country, for it is a permanent trophy of the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)," the pamphlet says.

According to the North Koreans, their patrol boats seized the Pueblo after the vessel had been caught spying in its territorial waters.

The incident occurred as tensions between the two nations were starting to heat up again amid the uneasy armistice that was brokered to end the 1950-53 Korean War.

One crew member was killed in the takeover of the Pueblo and the other 82 brought to Pyongyang for an 11-month saga that severely embarrassed and infuriated the United States.

The US version of events was that the Pueblo was an intelligence gathering vessel in international waters off the coast of North Korea when the North Koreans attacked it.

North Korea was adamant the vessel was an intruding spy ship and refused to release the crew until the US admitted its guilt.

During the standoff, the US built up its military forces around North Korea but the Stalinist nation refused to budge.

The crew members were filmed signing a letter of apology and confessing, although they later said they only did so because of pressure from the North Koreans.

The crew was finally released after almost a year when the US government reluctantly signed a letter admitting the Pueblo was a spy ship and had entered North Korean waters.

Thirty-seven years later, the North Korean government and military continue to bask in their "victory".

"The people of the world unanimously saw ... the might of the US was shattered again by the Korean people," the commentator in a DVD documentary that is shown to visitors in the Pueblo's mess hall says.

The vessel, which the US navy website says remains the property of the United States, has been kept in relatively good condition with the North Koreans striving to present it in all its glory.

Each artefact, from the decoding room to the vessel's plaque, provides enduring ammunition for the North Korean government in its efforts to boost the morale of the Korean People's Army (KPA).

"The veterans who captured the Pueblo and the new soldiers of the KPA say; 'Whoever makes a reckless attack upon our country will never return alive like the Pueblo!'," the tourist brochure says.

Monday, April 11, 2005

So What Goes On During A Professional Development Day?

Today was not a typical Professional Development day for me. Usually, these days are spent discussing the current status of our school and learning some new techniques or what the latest research is saying. Today was different.

I went to the Breaking Ranks II Conference in Wichita. This was a meeting of close to two hundred high school teams looking for ways to improve high school education in the state. It featured superintendents, principals, school board members and little old me, high school history teacher from Halstead Kansas. Here was the rundown:

Governor Sebelius: While I disagree with many of her views I will give her credit, she is a great speaker and she works a room well. She made some good points about the correlation between education and future earnings and how an educated workforce is the best incentive to draw business to the state. She raked the legislature over the coals and feels the Supreme Court will reject the current school budget which increased education spending by $127 million. Of course she also bashed No Child Left Behind.

Steve Abrams: He is from the State Board of Education. He is famous for his conservative stance on the teaching of evolution in schools. He spoke about the need for a more rigorous curriculum and better use of resources. He also advocates better communication among the government, people and education providers. He also bashed NCLB.

Andy Tompkins: He is the outgoing Commissioner of Education in the state of Kansas. He pointed out similarities in calls for education reform from government, principals associations, business, and the Gates Foundation. The common link was the call for a rigorous curriculum, content knowledge and the need for personalized education plans.

It was a productive day and I believe that our school has the opportunity to make some real positive changes in the future. The toughest hurdles will be convincing ‘traditional’ teaching staff members to get on board, finding resources, and keeping people excited about the prospects for change. I look forward to the challenge but I am still not totally on board until I feel we have full support from the administration.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


This article from the San Jose Mercury News (registration required) points out how 3 sport athletes are becoming more and more rare. I have witnessed fewer and fewer kids in high school doing this. It is a shame because it almost seems as if students are playing sports in high school as if it was their profession. This amazes me because that is not the point of high school sports. Only a small percentage of these students will play and college and those who do will not play in a major Division one school. Here is an excerpt:

Once, being a three-sport athlete in high school was the ultimate sign of being a top jock. Today, the very best athletes often are encouraged to choose a single sport that offers the best chance for a scholarship. It's either that or risk becoming a jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

As recently as last summer, the coach of Shiller's Oakland-based summer basketball team was lobbying him to drop the other sports.

``I definitely encouraged Drew to not play all three sports,'' Lou Richie said. ``I told him that whatever sport he really wanted to play in college, he should focus on that. The two hours he was using every day to practice football or baseball, he could have used on basketball.''

FOR DISCUSSION: What are the pros and cons of playing multiple sports?

Where Should You Eat

Most students at my high school know my absolute passion for food. I love to cook and I love to eat out. This means each year as prom rears its head I get asked where should they go to eat. Well here are my suggestions for your prom dining. All of these places take reservations and are owned locally which I think equates to a more personal style of service:

1. Garazzos This is one of my favorite Italian Restaurants. “The Birthplace of Chicken Spiedini” this restaurant is delicious. The staff knows the menu well and everything is well done. I would suggest their Sicilian Butter to go with their bread and then enjoy either their Chicken Spiedini with Diablo sauce or Vitello Saltimbaco.

2. Chelseas This is where my wife and I go each year for our anniversary. This New York-style pub and grill with piano bar, offers a stylish atmosphere featuring an eclectic array of menu items including authentic seafood gumbo, USDA prime rib, and great appetizers. Exquisite desserts, such as creme brulee or tiramisu, tastefully complete your meal. They have a live jazz band too. This place is very reasonable and you have to try their French dip sandwich.

3. The Spartan This is a close restaurant in Newton. It is the most expensive restaurant in the town but it is very good. It used to be housed in the Wichita Art Museum but now they focus only on their Newton Location. The atmosphere is really nice and the food is great. I love their deserts and you can not beat the location.

4. Yia Yias This was ranked as the best restaurant in Wichita and I am not one to dispute it. The service is great and it is chic without being pretentious. It is also is loud and busy enough that you won’t feel as if everyone is staring at you. I suggest the smoked pork chop, the hanger steak or the beef tenderloin.

5. Sumos This is owned by a former chef at Kobes, Wichita’s first Hibachi steakhouse. This restaurant is smaller but I feel the food is better. Whatever you do you must get the garlic fried rice. It is fabulous and not overbearingly garlicky. This would be an excellent restaurant choice for a group of eight.

6. Make Your Own Dinner Finally, I would suggest that you make dinner yourself. It is pretty easy to put together a Caesar Salad, Skewered Grilled Shrimp, A Cajun Sauce, some sort of rice dish and strawberry shortcake. A lot could be made ahead and if you have a formal dining room than it can look just as nice.

So there you go. I hope you all have fun!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

An Interesting Question

This comes from Yahoo Finance. It is their weekly quiz question. Typically there is a correct answer but this one is all opinion. I find it interesting that the two most popular choices have nothing to do with business at all.

What's the best business book of all time?
The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
Made in America - Sam Walton
My Years with General Motors - Alfred P. Sloan, Jr.

Bythe way, I have read three of the four which ain't too shabby.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

This is the golf course where we practice, Wedgewood golf course. It is only a small nine hole course but it is a nice place to practice and while it might not be much it is ours! Posted by Hello

Monday, April 04, 2005

Golf Season Starts Tomorrow!

We go to Herington and hopefully will have a good start to the season.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

My Jaw Hit The Ground

So there I was driving down K-96 to get some food before the Final Four games. I was flipping through the stations when I came across a song that I had not heard before. Literally, I listend in awe as the the lyrics spun around my head. The song was "Baby Mama" by Fantasia Barrino. The lyrics are listed below:

This goes out to all my baby mamas
This goes out to all my baby mamas
This goes out to all my baby mamas
I got love for all my baby mamas

It's about time we had our own song
Don't know what took so long
Cause nowadays it's like a badge of honor
To be a baby mama
I see ya payin' ya bills
I see ya workin' ya job
I see ya goin' to school
And girl I know it's hard
And even though ya fed up
With makin' beds up
Girl, keep ya head up
All my


I see you get that support check in the mail
You open it and you'er like, What the Hell
You say, This ain't even half of daycare
Sayin' to yourself, This shit ain't fair
And all my girls who don't get no help
Who gotta do everything by yourself
Remember, what don't kill you can only make you stronger
My baby mama


Cause we the backbone (of the hood)
I always knew that (that we could)
We can go anywhere, we can do anything
I know we can make it if we dream
And I think it should be a holiday
For single mothers, tryin' to make a way
But until then, here is your song
Show love to my....


I still am not sure what to think about this song. I understand that it is suppose to be a positive song of strength for those in this situation but I worry about the underlying message og the song. It seems to support the idea of teenage unwed mothers trying to raise children. Especially with lines such as "Cause nowadays it's like a badge of honor To be a baby mama" and "And I think it should be a holiday For single mothers" Maybe I am way off base on this one butit just doesn't seem to be that positive of a message to be sending to people. Any ideas?

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