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.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Day 2 and Day 3

Day 2

We had another good day here at the Brown Conference. It was a day full of good discussions and learning. Dr. Roediger, Dr. Deborah Danridge, Dr. Bruce McTavish, Dr. Lieker, Dr. Bill Wagnon gave a wonderful panel discussion over the African American experience from 1854 to 1954. After that there was sometime spent on how race was written into Kansas law. Finally, we also did a little work with blogs and Document Based Questions.

Day 3

We had another productive day in Topeka. Today we looked more at legislation and court cases dealing with the establishment of de jure segregation in the United States. We then worked a lot on creating Document Based Questions. The discussions about race, history and education have been really productive. There is an ample group of professionals here with a variety of opinions and ideas. While, I do not agree with everything that different people say, the opinions are interesting none the less.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Tuskegee Institute Posted by Hello

Booker T. Washington and Other Distinguished Figures Posted by Hello

Topeka Colored Directory Posted by Hello

Washington Funeral Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Geography And Foreign Diplomacy

Who says geography doesn't mean anything?

Textbooks headed for a Japanese school in China were seized by customs officials who objected to the way maps in the books depicted the Chinese mainland and rival Taiwan, an official said Tuesday.

The maps showed the mainland and the island in different colors, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, indicating that Beijing was concerned this might make Taiwan seem like a separate country.

China and Taiwan split amid civil war in 1949, but the communist government in Beijing claims the self-governed island as part of its territory and rejects any suggestion that it is a sovereign nation.

"The Japanese textbooks showed China and Taiwan in different colors," Liu said at a regular news briefing. "The 'one-China principle' is paramount, so it is legitimate for China's customs to handle this according to the law."

Does This Remind You Of Any Other Time In History

Say maybe right before October 29, 1929 or so?:

Nicki Randolph, a San Francisco real estate agent, hasn't been scared off by talk of a housing bubble. Although she already owns both a home and a condo in Palm Springs, Calif., Randolph just closed on a third property -- dropping more than $1 million on a 1,400-square-foot loft in the heart of San Francisco. How does she juggle so many properties in the overheated California market? Lots of leverage, thanks to banks all too willing to provide ever more.

To finance her loft purchase, Randolph took out a mortgage that lets her pay only interest for the first five years -- a tactic that helps her ease into the hefty monthly payments. "Fears that the market is going to crash are way overstated," she says confidently. "It's a seven-mile-by-seven-mile city and a premier place people want to live. You have to be more aggressive here because the prices are so high."

PRESSURE KEEPS BUILDING. Randolph's story is a familiar one -- and it shows the lengths to which buyers are willing to go to snatch up real estate as well as the extremes lenders will stretch to accommodate them. As prices continue to skyrocket in much of the country, banks and lenders are cranking out an ever-growing array of products ranging from no-money-down or interest-only mortgages, to special "Payment Power" loans that allow homeowners to defer monthly payments altogether twice a year.

Such creative financing is letting even marginal buyers purchase houses with price tags that used to appeal only to the rich and famous. In the process, banks and mortgage companies appear to be taking on more risk than ever before -- and if rates rise sharply or prices tumble, many of their customers could find themselves in deep trouble, too.

All those innovative mortgage products are a sure sign that lenders are doing everything they can to keep the housing boom going and to capitalize on yet another round of falling interest rates that no one expected. There are plenty of other signs of frenzy as well. Home appraisers complain that mortgage originators are demanding the optimistic appraisals needed to close on loans. "They started warning me to 'be a team player' and to 'hit the number' they needed to seal the deal," says Robert Burnitt, an appraiser in Midlothian, Tex.

Read more by Dean Foust

Day 1: Dorm Living Is Not the Life For Me

The first day of my Brown vs. Board: Legacy of Brown conference was productive and enjoyable. We arrived on the Washburn campus for a week of dorm living. Dorms are a lot nicer than when I was in college but they are still dorms and I am glad I will only be in them for a week.

We did the usual introduction stuff, then went to the Monroe Elementary school which is now a national park, for lunch, a tour and of to preview a new CD-Rom that they have for classroom use. It was interesting and I really like the way they have set up the school. I am thinking that I might bring my Sociology class to the museum next fall when we are covering race/culture.

After the museum we had dinner and then listened to a lecture from Dr. David Roediger. He has written a few books on the idea of whiteness and his presentation was interesting. He discussed a lot about teaching race and did not really get into his books that much but still it was a good session.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Legislature Is Working Hard???

The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered the legilature to reexamine the funding of schools in the state. This means finding an extra $143 million to comply with the order. So what is the legislature doing?...Debating a new constitutional amendment that would bar the judicial and executive branches from ordering the legislature to spend specific amounts of money. Gotta love it.

I will point out that all winter the legislature complained that the court did not give specific enough information about how to fix education. In its latest ruling the Supreme Court did exactly that, and now the legislature is upset.

My Next Conference

Next week I start another conference. Here is the write up from the Topeka Capital Journal
Conference to focus on legacy of Brown

A seminar for educators will be held next week in Topeka titled "American Rights and Race Relations: The Legacy of Brown v. Board of Education."

The conference will be Monday through Friday at Washburn University. It is sponsored by the Educational Services and Staff Development Association of Central Kansas and the Southeast Kansas Education Service Center.

The keynote address, "Studying Whiteness and Learning About Race," will be given at 7 p.m. Monday by University of Illinois professor David Roediger in the Kansas Room of Washburn's Memorial Union. The Kansas Room is on the south end of the union's upper level. The event is open to the public.

Roediger's research focuses on race and class in the United States, the history of U.S. radicalism, immigration and racial formation in the United States. He is the author of "Our Own Time: A History of American Labor and the Working Day," "The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class," and "Towards the Abolition of Whiteness."

Other speakers will include Johnson County Community College's Jim Leiker, The University of Kansas' Deborah Dandridge and Keil Hileman, 2004 Kansas Teacher of the Year.

The five-day event is designed to prepare teachers to use research-based instructional strategies and enhance their historical knowledge.

It should be worthwhile and provide a lot of time for me to interact with other teachers and gain even more content information. It's fun to hear all of the different opinions and techniques from the other teachers at teh conference.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

I can breathe a little easier

Good news from the special session of the Kansas legislature reported by the KC Star

Conservative state lawmakers have spent recent days talking about sending Supreme Court justices a message. But one proposal intended to send such a message - an effort to change justices from being appointed to elected - was shot down Thursday.

Since 1958, each of the seven justices has been appointed by the governor from a slate of three candidates submitted by a nominating panel. Before that, they were elected statewide.

A proposed constitutional amendment returning to elected justices was ready for debate Thursday, but House Speaker Doug Mays said there wasn't enough support among the 83-member Republican caucus. The idea needed a two-thirds majority - 84 votes - to pass.

The Kansas Supreme Courts is a little safer from partisan political games

Monday, June 20, 2005

Constitutional History

The Constitution and American History are linked by a strong bond but still the role of the Constitution and its history is not ever directly mentioned through out my American History class. This does not mean that the subject is not brought up often; it is just never directly related to a “Constitutional History”. This might be because the students at Halstead High School have a brilliant government teacher, Joseph Gerber, who is an expert of the Constitution and does a phenomenal job covering all aspects of the document.

In my classes, the Constitution and its effect on history are discussed in different units. For instance, we looking at the late nineteenth century my classes look at the decisions of the Supreme Court dealing with labor and how those decisions are similar or different to the same courts views in regards to race. When studying the great depression, my classes have the opportunity to look at the views of presidential power as asserted by Hoover and Roosevelt. Another aspect covered is Congress and the president with the court packing incident and War Powers Resolution after the Vietnam War. Finally, we often times talk about the intent of the Constitution and different amendments.

African American History

My approach to African American History has changed over my nine year teaching career. During my first three years of teaching, I made few references to African American History in my classes other than those covered in the state standards. The past six years up until today has seen come major changes.

My interest in the civil rights movement and African American history has increased and this has carried over into my classes. Teaching high school American History means that most of the class is focused after Reconstruction. While I used to use a negligible amount of time for African American history, that has changed in the past years. Looking at African American History over the past 130 years is a productive way to build in character education, government standards, and content reading into the American History class.

My two most recent additions has been a further detailed unit on school desegregation. In particular, the role Kansas individuals played. The other area that I am trying to develop for classroom use is a study looking at the efforts and contrasts between W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington. In a perfect educational world I would have my classes read The Souls of Black Folk and Up From Slavery at the beginning of the year and then apply the ideas and themes from those books and the methods prescribed by the authors to not only African History but all of American History.

FOR DISCUSSION: What aspects of African American history are essential in American History classes?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

I Wish People Knew More History

Well, the Kansas Constitutional Crisis over school finance continues to heat up. The special legislative session will start this Wednesday and there are already four different plans to deal with the issue and some legislators are still talking about defying the court.

The Kansas Republican Assembly held a rally/protest against what they call "Activist Courts." The KRA is a far far far far far right wing group that claims to adhere to true conservative values but the more I read about them they seem to favor large government when it meets their social goals and small government when it opposes them (after all they support the death penalty which seems like a fairly large government invovlement). From reading their site I am fairly certain they would not have supported the Brown v Topeka Board of Education decision in 1954. Anyway the KRA has an online petition which says:

The Kansas Supreme Court overruled the voice of the people again on Friday, June 3, with its school finance ruling. It is time to stop these unelected and unaccountable judges by making them elected and accountable to the people they attempt to rule from the bench. Prior to 1958, judges were elected in Kansas. If you are in favor of a Constitutional amendment to have judges elected by the people in Kansas, please click here.

Currently, the Supreme Court memebers are chosen by a panel of lawyers and then approved by the Governor. I was wondering why the we changed from electing judges to the current method. After all, it would seem important to know the history of the issue before making any changes. What did my research show? The Kansas Bar Association had this:

Kansas was first admitted to the Union in 1861, at a time when elected judiciaries were the norm. However, dissatisfaction with the close interplay between political parties and judicial selection led to a series of reform efforts to transform judicial selection into a nonpartisan process. These efforts succeeded in 1958, when Kansas voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing merit selection of supreme court justices. The amendment's success can be attributed to the intensive lobbying efforts of the Kansas Bar Association and the political scandal aptly titled the "triple play of 1956."

The "triple play" involved Chief Justice Bill Smith, Governor Fred Hall, and Lieutenant Governor John McCuish. The Republican Party, traditionally the dominant political party in Kansas, suffered a major split just prior to the 1956 election. In that election, Governor Hall was defeated in the Republican primary by Warren Shaw, who then lost the general election to Democrat George Docking. Chief Justice Smith, a strong supporter of Hall, was seriously ill and contemplating retirement. However, he was concerned that if he retired after Docking took office in January 1957, Docking would appoint a Democrat to replace him. Smith, Hall, and McCuish devised a plan to prevent this. Chief Justice Smith resigned on December 31, 1956, followed by the resignation of Governor Hall on January 3, 1957. Lieutenant Governor McCuish was then sworn in as governor. The first and only official act of his 11-day tenure as governor was to appoint Hall as chief justice of the supreme court.

In the wake of the "triple play," Kansas adopted a merit plan for supreme court justices. The merit plan was later extended to the court of appeals and the district court, with individual districts having the option to move to merit selection or maintain partisan elections. The majority of judicial districts in Kansas have chosen merit selection.

There have also been problems with the election of Justices in Missouri with political booses trying to control the selection process. I am concerned that people at the KRA are striving for a solution that will probably lead to larger problems. Its too bad school is not in session right now because it would be great learning opportunity for all of my students and I am sure the debates at the lunch table would be heated.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Flickr vs Hello

For the grant that I am part of we have to create a blog. Natuarlly, I plan on using this blog since it is already up an running and I am used to posting here. The one difference is that for posting pictures, they want us to use Flickr and I am used to using Hello! from Picasa. So this will be a good opportunity for me to compare the benefits of both of these picture posting programs.

I should also take this time to mention that some of my posts will be in regard to my grant so if some of the posts seem a but out of place, you will understand. as always feel free to leave any comments or questions.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

History and Name Choice

I was reading posts from EconLog and there was an intersting link to Baby Voyager. This site tracks the popularity of names over the past 130 years. It is intersting to see which names come into fad and which names were once popular and now fairly unpopular. Check it out.

From Kentucky

Originally uploaded by mrwarsnak.
Here we are on the banks of the Ohio River. The trip was great and now I am home mowing a yard that is way too talk

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Life In Louisville

I am posting from Louisville KY. I am here on vacation to visit my brother-in-law. Louisville is a great city with a great history and seems like it would be a nice place to live. We are heading home soon but since getting here we have:

1. Visited a great architectural salvage shop
2. Seen the Louisville Bats minor league team
3. Walked along the Ohio River and seen fireworks
4. Gone to see the Skateboarding Vert. Finals at the Mountain Dew Action Sports Tour
5. Played Play Station 2 Football
6. Eaten at some great places

This is the last real vacation like trip of the summer. The rest are work oriented for my masters degree and other educational projects. Still, thus far it has been a great summer. Plus, while I have been gone it has rained almost every day at home. My yard will need mowed but at least I haven't been stuck inside shielded from the rain.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Kansas Constitutional Crisis?

Okay, I received an interesting document and I would like to know everyones opinion but first the recap. The Kansas Supreme Court has ruled the current method used for public education to be flawed. They have ordered the legislature to fund an extra $143 million for schools in Kansas. This increases the ENTIRE state budget by about 10%. Just to give you an idea it would take an extra 41% increase in income taxes to pay for this or increasing the sales taxe by 8.5%. The topper is that the legislature has until July 1 to comply. Well, the right wing fiscal conservatives have gone on the rampage. They scream activism, tax increases, judicial short sightedness, and lack of public oversight in the judicial branch. This led to me getting the following document written by a Southeast Kansas legislator from a poorer part of the state. Here is what it says:

Needless to say I am shocked at the highly ACTIVIST decision of our Kansas Supreme Court.

I have now read emails from Mike O'Neal, Brenda Landwehr, and Bob Corkins and agree with all they have to say.

I too have contemplated the following course of action:

  1. Set up a meeting as suggested by Brenda Landwehr in Wichita to organize a united front, before we are called into special session.
  2. Or Volunteer to go several days early to Topeka before the Special Session starts to organize a counter plan.
  3. Boycott the special session altogether - this I think would be a bad choice as many of my constituents would consider this action as running from the issue.
  4. Go to the special session and wait for Gov. Sebelius to meet with the Court and offer a plan, agreeable with the court, for the legislature to vote up or down. We can just sit and wait and enjoy the sights of Topeka!
  5. Go to the special session and vote NO! Then appeal to the US Supreme Court.
  6. Commission one of our gifted Lawyer Legislators (such as Mike O'Neal) to author and launch impeachment proceedings for all 6 Kansas Supreme Court Judges, on the basis that they themselves are violating the Constitutional Separation Of Powers. This would be a FIRST nationally and one I like as this kind of action may also inspire other states to follow our lead. WE NEED TO PUT A STOP INTO THE ACTIVIST AGENDA OF OUR COURTS.
  7. Go ahead and vote "yes" for the additional $143 million for the schools, but also provide for a voucher to any parent of say $5,000 and give the parent the choice of sending their child to any private school of their liking. Home schoolers would get a $2,000 tax deduction if they pay any taxes. The balance over and above the $5,000 or the $2,000 can go to the schools to placate the KNEA. This will not cost the State anything other than the money demanded by the court, but will significantly introduce competition into the K-12 education scenario.

The impression I am getting from most of my constituents is that they resent having their elected legislators by-passed by unelected court judges. Doug Mays -- we await your marching orders!

FOR DISCUSSION: I personally do not see the current state of affairs in the same light as this legislator but I am open to alot of different ideas. What do you think of this lawmaker's ideas and how would you respond?

I Do Requests

Becky left me a comment last week that I thought was worth posting for all to read.

Did you read the Newsweek a while back about the top 100 high schools? I was wondering your thoughts on the best and why (like should the best schools have been the ones with more rigorous AP programs or the ones with more creative styles of teaching?)
Personally, I think schools should focus more on ways to get their students excited about learning! I mean, I guess that sounds vague, but I know that there are certain teachers that can make even a supposedly dull subject exciting to learn about! And also maybe some better ways to teach better study habits. I cannot BELIEVE the terrible study habits at Bethel! There are so many students that turn work in late, slack off on projects, and somehow slip by with it! My sister said that her freshmen colloquy class had some emphasis on critical thinking and study habits that really seemed to help students grow. I like this approach better than having students plow through AP classes (even if they aren't ready for them) to get them more prepared for college (this is how some of the high schools in Newsweek tought their programs). You could integrate both of my ideas, but I just think intense studying just to do well on AP tests leaves some possible exciting elements of learning behind. What do you think! I like how you have evaluated the way that you teach and are working towards new ideas! That's great!

I did see that Newsweek and I looked to see if which Kansas schools made the list. Halstead missed the cut even though I believe it is an excellent school and I wish my daughter could be educated by the teachers we have right now (especially those fine Social Studies teachers). As far as what do I think the best schools entail????

High Schools are in a tough position. Becky’s concern about AP tests and testing in general might be valid but it is what the colleges and universities are asking for. They offer scholarships based on ACT tests and college credit based on high scores on the AP tests. It would be a disservice to students not to prepare them for these challenges. It is also important to mention the fact that local, state and national governments are pushing high stakes testing. There seems to be a feeling that if a lot of money is being invested in education some measurable results are expected (I don’t disagree with this idea). I should mention the key criteria in the Newsweek article was the amount of AP classes offered and taken. But all of this still means schools have to push success on assessments and this means an academically rigorous environment.

Becky makes a great point about getting students excited about learning. The key is that you can not give up the rigor for excitement. Every teacher wants their students excited about learning and passionate about the material because when students are, the job is much more enjoyable, fulfilling and the learning is much better. The thing that you have to remember is that the excitement for learning can not always be stressed over the material. I know my students typically enjoy learning social history (prohibition, women’s suffrage, 60s counterculture) over economic history (Tariffs, NAFTA, Mercantilism) but I need to teach both because the state assesses on both.

This leads me to the key point. The great teachers are the ones who integrate both of these parts with balance and they a bit rare even though I can name many. The sad thing to me is that there are many great teachers out there in private sector jobs that are afraid to teach or perceive the pay as too low. Also, every year high schools graduate many students who could be wonderful teachers (Becky, Casey, Clemens, Tara, Brittany, Trenton, Alisha and many others this means you!) yet many of them will never consider the profession. Anyway, theses are my thoughts and thank you for the compliment.

FOR DISCUSSION: What do you think makes for a good school?

Friday, June 03, 2005

More Money For Education

THE DECISION: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that a $142 million education funding package approved by legislators this year was inadequate.

MORE MONEY: Justices ordered the Legislature to double the amount of new money for schools, to $285 million, by July 1.

BACK TO TOPEKA: The ruling will force a special legislative session, lawmakers' first since December 1989.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN: Well, on the good side education will have more money which I pray that they put towards curriculum and instruction. I wouldn't mind a some additional money to keep me from searching those ads for jobs in other fields also. On the negative side, the legislature has to find $143 million. This means either more taxes, legalize casino gambling, or massive reduction in spending on other state services.

IN THE END: The legislature has known this issue was going to plague them and they did nothing and now they are going to have to swallow a bitter pill. I will be interested in who will be running for state legislature and senate in 2006.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Exciting Places I'm Visiting This Summer

To be honest I am not certain how exciting these places are but here is the list of places I will be going:

1. Abilene KS
2. Topeka KS
3. Parsons Ks
4. Kansas City
5. Dodge City KS
5. Louisville KY

FOR DISCUSSION: Where will you be heading to this summer?

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