Tag Archives: history

History! Blaine's Shadow Tells an Important Story

James G. Blaine. You’ve heard that name before, right? Of course you have. I’ve written about Congressman Blaine a number of times, usually in the context of Douglas County’s ongoing legal battle against so-called “Blaine Amendments” through its first-of-its-kind local voucher program. Or maybe I should say programs (plural), as the district’s other voucher program made things pretty complicated for a while before a debatable court decision and a new decision by the board put an end to most of the legal craziness. But while we’ve talked a fair amount about Blaine and the state constitutional clauses named after him, I’m not sure we’ve ever really known the full story. There’s a lot of important history and drama and politics buried behind the simple narrative that most folks just don’t know.  Ross Izard, my favorite policy nerd, set out to tell that story—and to explain why it matters from a constitutional perspective—in his most recent issue paper, Blaine’s Shadow: Politics, Discrimination, and School Choice. 

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Share Your Feedback on Colorado's New Draft Social Studies Standards

You’ve heard that old, old song before: “Don’t know much about history…. (And for that matter geography, civics, and economics.) Well, how true is it of Colorado public school students? And how much will the newly revised Social Studies academic standards help improve the situation? A first draft (PDF) of the Social Studies standards has been produced by a committee, and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) wants your comments. Whether you have time to read through all 128 pages of introductory material and proposed standards in the four content areas, or just select portions, any feedback you can provide is helpful. To get the context of the process behind the standards and some examples that may raise concerns, click on the play button below to listen to a new iVoices podcast discussion featuring my Education Policy Center friends Pam Benigno and Ben DeGrow:

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Obama Speaks to Schoolchildren … Where's the Real Local Control?

Update 5, 9/8: The speech that went off today, and the lesson plans that accompanied it, were a lot less creepy and controversial than the original release. Who knows how much the uproar had an effect on that? Anyway, I commend to you two thoughtful perspectives on the whole episode: by Jay Greene at Education Next and by coolreformchick at Edspresso. The good news about the President addressing schoolchildren across the nation? At least this time Congress won’t start an inquiry into it. Update 4, 9/4: I have gathered and posted numerous responses from Colorado teachers and schools to Obama’s address to schoolchildren. Also, my Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow explains what he told Denver Post reporter Jeremy Meyer that didn’t end up being quoted in today’s story. Update 3, 9/3: Westword blogger Michael Roberts noticed me!! I’m glad he likes my sense of humor. I have a 5-year-old kid crush on him now …. Hope he also reads my latest on this topic. Update 2: Jim Geraghty notes that the Department of Education has reworded the teacher’s guide to make it less offensive. A good idea … you think? Meanwhile, Douglas County School District south of Denver, the […]

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Could You (or Colorado High Schoolers) Outshine Arizona's Civic Illiteracy?

This news from the Goldwater Institute’s Matt Ladner about the basic civic illiteracy of Arizona high school students is depressing, especially a week before our nation’s birthday. A simple 10-question quiz failed by the overwhelming majority of students. Apparently, charter school kids did better than other public school kids, and private schoolers did even better. No group did well, though. I have to wonder: What about homeschoolers? (Maybe there weren’t enough of them to tally the results.) The big people in my life insist that basic civic literacy is absolutely crucial for the Republic to survive in the future. You know, my future? Let’s pay attention, people. Anyway, here are the 10 questions, taken directly from the U.S. Citizenship exam:

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Fired Conservative Kansas Teacher Missed His Chance at "Rubber Rooms"

For teachable purposes, I like clear contrasts. You know: Black vs. white, Up vs. down, Chocolate ice cream vs. broccoli. But what about the world of education reform — specifically, teacher tenure? Two stories in particular popped up within hours of each other, and what a contrast they present. First, there’s this news from our neighbor to the east: A Kansas teacher says he was wrongfully terminated for his conservative views. Tim Latham has been teaching history and U.S. Government for over 19 years. But after teaching for just one year in the Lawrence School District in Lawrence, Kansas, Latham says his contract was not renewed because school officials did not like his conservative views — particularly a teacher website that Latham hosted and paid for himself. A teacher coach confronted him on that issue. If this indeed proves to be true, how sad it would be to see a teacher not only get persecuted for his unorthodox conservative patriotic views (unfortunately, it happens more than you may think) but also lose his job over it. He isn’t working for a private school. He’s working for a public school funded by taxpayer dollars! Latham has filed a grievance and said […]

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