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, July 31, 2005

And I Still Don't Live That Well

Forbes has come out with their listing of what it takes to live well in America and Wichita is the cheapest place to live well. While it costs well over $500,000 a year to live well in New York City it only costs $189,000 for a comaprable standard of living in Wichita, America. Sadly, my net income is no where near $189,000 so I will maintain my middle class life and enjoy every minute of it. Here is the Forbes breakdown of Wichita's lifestyle:

Net Income After Taxes $189,923
Primary Home Cost $775,000
Annual Home Payments $43,442
Vacation Home Location Parsons
Vacation Home Price
Annual Vacation Home Payments $17,236
Cars $18,400
Dining Out $8,300
Food at Home $8,300
Travel $19,700
Health Care $4,400
Utilities $5,300
Private School Costs $10,500
College Costs $30,295
Other $22,146
Savings $1,286
Local/State Taxes 8.1%

One thing that I will point out is that the vacation home in Parsons is some sort of joke I hope. I go to Parsons once a year and it is a nice little town with a lot of great people (especially the teachers) but it is no vacation mecca and there is only one house currently for sale over the price of $300,000. Anyway, yet another reason to move or stay in the great state of Kansas.

Time For A Cartoon

I think this image might make some teachers upset but personally I find it on target.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A Potential Assignment For Next Year

I read this post over at Econlog which linked me to The Fly Bottle and a post on relative economic well being versus actual income level. Richard Layard uses African Americans in the post civil war south as an example:

Richard Layard points out that one's perceived position in the income distribution is a better predictor of self-reported well-being than one's absolute income level, given that a certain minimum income threshold has been reached. So, every time you move up in relative income, someone else moves down. This makes you happier, but makes everyone with a diminished relative position less happy, even though their absolute income has not changed, or may even have increased, but less than yours....Consider the Jim Crow American South, or apartheid South Africa. Suppose it was the case that any increase in income among blacks leads to a reduction in self-reported subjective well-being among whites, a reduction that totally swamps the utility gain to blacks.

I think I might pose this idea tomy classes next year and see what their views on it might be. Further, it would be worth seeing what primary source material they can find to either support or refute the contention

2/3 Of My Masters Degree Is Done!!!

After two laborious weeks and many hours of reading different history books I am officially two thirds of the way done with my Masters Degree. At this time next year I will have earned a Masters Degree in History from Pittsburg State University. This summer’s work has been very beneficial for me. We looked at a wide range of topics including slavery and the constitution, African American history, baseball and of course a lot of research techniques. The advantage of the program that I am working with right now is that it is tailored to teachers and the expectations are all based on creating sources to enhance my classroom. This makes the time spent on the classes so much more useful. This fall will include a course in Kansas History and then in the spring Contemporary history.

Speaking of Kansas History, I am not sure who saw it but Sportscenter on ESPN is doing a 50 states in 50 days program and Sunday was Kansas. It was a fair representation but I noticed that they seemed to focus more on Kansas University opposed to Kansas State University. The rivalry in the state is large and I am on the KU side; the K-State people seem to have an inferiority complex and will scream conspiracy but I think that the overall success of KU over K-State is clear.

FOR DISCUSSION: What is the biggest rivalry that you have been part of?

For me it was my school Shawnee Mission South vs. Shawnee Mission West in High School, then Pitt State vs. Missouri Southern in college, next at Deerfield it was Deerfield vs. South Gray and now At Halstead it is Hesston and Wichita Collegiate.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Dumbest Quote of the Day

I do not care one way or the other about daylight savings but I love the from USA Today:

A move by Congress to extend daylight-saving time for four weeks to save energy has prompted an outcry from parent groups and the nation's airline industry, which warn it could be dangerous and costly.

Lawmakers from the House and Senate agreed Thursday to include a provision - part of a larger energy bill - that would start daylight-saving time three weeks earlier, the second Sunday in March, and end it a week later, the first Sunday of November. Kids would have an hour more daylight for trick-or-treating on Halloween.

"This is a huge victory for sunshine lovers," says Rep. Edward Markey (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., co-author of the bipartisan measure the House passed April 21.

Friday, July 15, 2005

A Sad Sad Story

I don't think there as any comment I can make other than to say that this is just sad if it prooves to be true.

A T-ball coach allegedly paid one of his players $25 to hurt an 8-year-old mentally disabled teammate so he wouldn't have to put the boy in the game, police said Friday.

Mark R. Downs Jr., 27, of Dunbar, is accused of offering one of his players the money to hit the boy in the head with a baseball, police said. Witnesses told police Downs didn't want the boy to play in the game because of his disability. Police said the boy was hit in the head and in the groin with a baseball just before a game, and didn't play, police said.

"The coach was very competitive," state police Trooper Thomas B. Broadwater said. "He wanted to win."

He was arrested and arraigned Friday on charges including criminal solicitation to commit aggravated assault and corruption of minors. He was released from jail on an unsecured bond.

The boy's mother asked state police to investigate her son's injuries because she suspected Downs wanted to keep the boy off the field, despite a league rule that required each player to participate in three innings a game, Broadwater said.

Eric Forsythe, the president of the R.W. Clark Youth Baseball League, said Downs had two daughters on the T-ball team. League organizers investigated accusations against Downs before the T-ball season ended earlier this month but could not prove that he did anything wrong.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Blog Entry #6 How can you use baseball to teach history

One of the key instructional methods that history teachers try to employ is the use of metaphors. We try to compare an unknown time period or situation with something that students know well (remember Zell Miller telling Chris Mathews that spitballs were metaphors?). I mention this because this afternoon I was introduced to a wonderful technique of using baseball as a metaphor for the judiciary. I have used sports in my classes before. Obviously the integration of baseball is mentioned in the Civil Rights movement, I used college football conferences to talk about confederations, and popularity of different sports across the time spectrum help to add color to different units. Still, the use of umpires as judges and there different interpretations of the strike zone was brilliance and I am thankful to Dr. Finkelman for the idea. The other aspect of baseball that I plan to use is from the book Baseball's Great Experiment. This wonderful book by Jules Tygiel includes a chapter called If They Come Here, They Can't Play discusses the reaction fans AND teams had to the arrival of Robinson starting in spring training. This one section helps to entrench the idea of racism as part of American Society

Blog Entry #5 Harlem Renaissance

Today's lecture on the Harlem Renaissance was one of my favorite parts of the week. Often times in education teachers are requested to integrate other curriculum areas into their own curriculum. This can be very difficult and if done incorrectly the artificialness of the product detracts from both areas. That is the beauty of the Harlem Renaissance. There is a clear opportunity to integrate art, literature and history to create a situation where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Dr. Wintz provided some great examples that can easily be used in class plus his background material with race riots and views of African Americans all will build for quality instruction. Then if that all was not enough, the Kansas connections address more standards and once again will help students to make connections to history. Needless to say, I am excited about teaching this next year, and even better, I think the students will enjoy learning the Harlem Renaissance.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Blog Entry #4: Race Riots and Lynching In the Classroom

An interstice topic to discuss today.

There is no doubt that many things that go on in a classroom mimic television: violence and action always get more attention than fiscal policies and political discussion. That being said when one looks at lynching and the race riots of the early 1900s it is important not to get too wrapped up in the morbid pictures and grotesque violence for only the shock value.

In my class, I have used some of the statistics on lynching in Kansas to show the change from the use of lynching in horse theft type crimes towards racial lynching. This would include using some newspaper articles from a lynching that took place in Leavenworth. Another, thing that I use is some of the post cards that show the crowds that attended the lynching as a social activity. One change that I think I will start to make is presenting the idea that Dr. Wintz mentioned about the difference between targeted mob violence in lynching versus the indiscriminate violence in the race riots. Also, the influence of the media and the building tension preceding the actual race riots.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Blog Entry #3 Constituitional History

Today Dr. Paul Finkelman went over three different topics that on the surface might appear to be a bit unrelated but can be tied together. The discussion revolved around the start of the Civil War, the issue of slavery and the framers of the Constitution and finally some of the key Supreme Court cases early in our republic’s history. These topics are linked because they are all based on what people think our country should be. Dr. Wintz’s statement that their was no unified goal for African Americans can be applied to all of America. The writing of the constitution, disagreement going to the Supreme Court and the Civil War itself are all based on what our nation should or should not be. The historical information gained today will be helpful in many of the discussions that occur in my classroom. Once again, while I do not teach some of these things directly, having it as background will enhance what I do teach.

One other thought about today…In reflection of the information and viewpoints presented it makes it must clearer how tough it can be to teach history. On one side, there is the immense amount of material that is expected to be covered but as Dr. Finkelman pointed out the more one studies a subject the more there is to know about it. Finding that balance is often times very difficult to achieve.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Blog Entry #2 Slavery and the Founders

We did not really get to discuss Slavery and the Founding Fathers today but there was plenty of intersting information. When analyzing slavery itself, I found it interesting to learn about the historical context of slavery in the world before the foundation of the US or even the colonies. The next interesting concept was Dr. Paul Finkelman’s assertion the racism started on July 4, 1776. This was a new notion to me and one that I will mull over in the coming weeks. I am not sure I can draw the straight line between Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia and Hitler’s Mein Kampf but it still worth thinking about. Finally, Dr. Finkelman's general point about the power of thought and ideas will be worth impressing on my students.

Blog Entry #1 African American Political Thought

I found this morning's discussion to be very interstice. One thing in particular is that none of the four leaders in the African American community were totally stagnant in their views. Their views were molded by the times in which they lived and their ideas changed as events around them also changed. The fact that Washington stayed in the South obviously had an effect on his views while DuBois, who was raised and lived in the northeast was probably more willing to push forward in a more militant way, maybe because he had not seen the degree of racism and hate that was in the south. The final item of interest was the overall concept of how Dr. Wintz categorized the four men's thoughts (Randolph=labor, Garvey=Nationalism etc. etc.)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Deserving Champion

Today Sean O'Hair won the John Deere Classic for his first PGA tournament victory. Many people probably don't know O'Hair well but this is twenty two year old has gone through a lot and he has handled some stressful times well. Here is a sample from GOLF DIGEST

His dad would berate Sean in the presence of others. Dad admits slapping his son, but he says he never injured him. Sean declines to discuss the specifics of his father's behavior, but he missed numerous social activities because he was on the driving range, working out or watching tapes of his swing. "We'd go to the beach, have an outing at Disney, do something social, and he'd be out in the parking lot with his dad doing some crazy crap [drill]," says Erik Compton, who competed in AJGA events with Sean and roomed with him at the 1998 Canon Cup team matches. In addition to the golf work, Marc awakened his son at 5 a.m., had him run a mile and lift weights. After Sean turned pro, Marc cooked meals on a portable stove in their hotel room so that Sean ate the right foods. Every day was like boot camp, and the military comparisons aren't by accident...As a junior player, Sean was forced to run a mile for making bogeys or finishing over par at tournaments. Marc once claimed he made Sean run eight miles in 93-degree heat after shooting an 80. At a 1998 AJGA tournament in California, Sean shot 79, then spent part of the night logging seven miles on a treadmill.

FOR DISCUSSION: Do you know of any instances when parents or coaches have gone too far in pushing their children or players?

Friday, July 08, 2005

We Have A Budget

The Kansas Legislature has finally passed an increase in education spending. The final amount was $143 million which was what the Kansas Supreme Court suggested. The Court still has final say but and will listen to the rationale today but I think they will okay this increase as a good faith effort.

Other good news includes the failure of the state legislature to push through a constitutional amendment that would limit the power of the governor and Supreme Court. I am very glad about this.

One other thing I will mention is that many of the legislator complained that the Supreme Court was mandating a tax increase or budget cuts in other areas. In the end, neither of these things happened.

Finally, one of professors left me this link that seems to put the final nail in the coffin of this special session was a bit pathetic and full of speculation.

This is our balloon trip. It was a lot of fun helping to get the baloon ready and then going up in the air. This was my second trip and it is really worth doing. Posted by Picasa

This is another ballon taking off Posted by Picasa

Here is the picture of us rising off the ground Posted by Picasa

This is some other balloons taking off Posted by Picasa

Here is a huge house we saw while up in the air. Probably a teacher:) Posted by Picasa

Back From Kansas City

I just got back from a mini vacation to Kansas City. It was a nice week full of fun. We bought a new kitchen island which will provide storage and seating. We also went to Kansas City Masterpiece, Red Snapper and Houlihans for some good meals. I made dinner for my family one night, grilled pork tenderloin with a peach mustard glaze served with a spicy orange sauce. We also checked out a neat architectural salvage shop, played golf (I shot a 75) and saw some relatives on the 4th of July. Next, week I work on my Masters degree, it should be interesting.

July 1, 2005 This pic. will be cute when she wins a professional tournament Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Day 4 of Brown Vs. Topeka Board

Well, today took the cake. I think I had the quintessential Kansas City experience on Thursday. As part of the grant we took a trip to KC to see some of the famous aspects of African American life from days gone by. This meant we were off to 18th and Vine:

We went to the KC Jazz Museum: It was wonderful. The music clips were interesting and the material that went along with the displays explained everything well.

Next we went to the Negro Baseball museum. Kansas City had one of the best negro teams, the Kansas City Monarchs, and the museum really celebrated the history of the league well.

Then we went to the old African American Musicians Union Hall. This run down building was next to an old closed down transient hotel and inside we heard a twenty piece jazz band play for us. It was fantastic to hear their stories and listen to them play the old big band music from the Duke Ellington band.

Finally, to top it off we had Gates BBQ which has the best ribs I have ever tasted. All of the sides were good too, but those ribs were just too much.

Anyway, the day was both enjoyable, educational and I will remember it for a long time.

Teacher Dress Codes

We have been heading towards this for sometime now:

Teachers are expected to bear long days, challenging students and demanding parents. Now, apparently, some teachers are baring too much of themselves.

School boards and superintendents increasingly are pursuing dress codes for teachers. At issue is the same kind of questionable attire most often associated with students.

In some districts, teachers can get dressed down for wearing skimpy tops, short skirts, flip flops, jeans, T-shirts, spandex or baseball caps. Spaghetti is fine in the cafeteria, but shirts supported by spaghetti straps are not welcome in the classroom.

District 11 in Colorado Springs, Colo., for example, prohibits sexually provocative items. That includes clothing that exposes "cleavage, private parts, the midriff or undergarments," district rules say.

In Georgia's Miller County, skirts must reach the knee. Elsewhere in the state, hair curlers are disallowed in Harris County and male teachers in Talbot County must wear ties two or three times a week.

"There's an impression that teachers are dressing more and more — well, the good term for it would be 'relaxed,'" said Bill Scharffe, director of bylaws and policy services for the Michigan Association of School Boards. "Another term for it would be 'sloppy.'"

SOURCE: Yahoo News

Personally, I believe you you want to be thought of as a professioanl than you had better dress professionally. Plus, it seems that when you dress more formal their is a different attitude in the classroom about the material. If I had my way, both teachers and students would be required to dress professionally. I do not favor uniforms but I do believe that looking professional gives a auroa to the environment that says what goes on in the building is improtant.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Clemens Was Right

Good call by Clemens earlier this year when he correctly predicted that the German government would vote no confidence in Gerhard Schroeder. It happened today and now there is 21 days for President Horst Koehler to decide whether a new vote will be held. I will take full credit for Clemens political knowledge :) Not really.

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