Saturday, May 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Article reprinted below for educational purposes.
Health care and the New Nullifiers
By E.J. Dionne Jr.
Thursday, March 25, 2010; A21
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli seems determined to use an attack on health-care reform to bring us back to the 1830s.
Cuccinelli, to cheers from the "tea party" crowd, went to court this week to overturn the new law, which he says conflicts with a Virginia statute "protecting its citizens from a government-imposed mandate to buy health insurance."
"Normally, such conflicts are decided in favor of the federal government," he said, "but because we believe the federal law is unconstitutional, Virginia's law should prevail."
The Republican attorney general's move reveals how far into the past America's New Nullifiers want to push the nation. They don't just want to abandon a seven-plus-decade understanding of the Constitution's interstate commerce clause that has allowed the federal government to regulate a modern, national economy. They also want to resurrect states' rights doctrines discredited by President Andrew Jackson during the Nullification Crisis of the 1830s and buried by the Civil War.
There are two issues here. One is whether the federal government can require individuals to buy health insurance. The other is the question of states' rights. In a suit separate from Cuccinelli's, 13 state attorneys general -- 12 Republicans and a conservative Democrat from Louisiana -- also challenged the mandate. But their main argument is that the federal government cannot force states to pay for an expanded Medicaid program and take other steps the law requires.
It would take a rashly activist court to find the individual mandate unconstitutional because it is structured as a tax. No one will go to jail for not buying insurance. Starting in 2014, people who refuse will have to pay a penalty to the federal government, administered by the IRS. There are subsidies for those who cannot afford coverage on their own, as well as hardship exemptions.
The idea is simple: Most people without insurance receive at least some medical help, and the mandate is designed to get everyone paying into the system. One of the best defenses of a health insurance mandate came in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published in April 2006.
"By law, emergency care cannot be withheld," this commentator wrote. "Why pay for something you can get free? Of course, while it may be free for them, everyone else ends up paying the bill, either in higher insurance premiums or taxes."
He added: "Some of my libertarian friends balk at what looks like an individual mandate. But remember, someone has to pay for the health care that must, by law, be provided: Either the individual pays or the taxpayers pay. A free ride on government is not libertarian."
The writer was Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is now trying to insist that the health plan with a mandate that he championed in his state -- with the support of a legislator named Scott Brown -- is oh-so-different from the bill President Obama signed this week. But Romney can't take back his own words.
Still, at least the quarrel over the mandate is about something relatively new. The old states' rights argument, if successful, could upend years of federal legislation. Will we have a system where states can pick and choose among federal laws? We want our elderly to get Medicare, and give us more highway money, but forget this health-care expansion.
That sounds like the logic of the nullifiers of the 1830s, fighting to resist a federal tariff they thought was too high. South Carolina Gov. Robert Y. Hayne, their leader, sounded rather like today's "tea partyers." His state, he declared in 1832, was "inflexibly determined never to surrender her reserved rights, nor to suffer the constitutional compact to be converted into an instrument for the oppression of her citizens."
Andrew Jackson's response to the nullifiers is classic. He denounced "the strange position that any one State may not only declare an act of Congress void, but prohibit its execution." He also wondered how a state could "retain its place in the Union, and yet be bound by no other of its laws than those it may choose to consider as constitutional."
Okay, at least today the attorneys general are going to court before taking further action. But in the case of Cuccinelli, the law he is relying on to justify his suit was passed by Virginia's legislature in direct defiance of a federal bill they knew might be coming. Call it Nullification Light. It's no way to run a serious country, and it's a reckless approach to politics.
Why did the cities grow rapidly?
Freedom from water power
Increased productivity of farms
Opening of markets
Growing not just in population but in physical size
Proximity to jobs for workers
Wages: Supply and Demand
Suburbs: An American Invention
Five causes in Amsco:
Balloon-frame house (compare to European stonework)
Reason 6: Lack of a landed aristocracy: Rich are industrialists
Middle class escape (Manager class)
1950s G.I. Bill/highway construction/Levittowns
Post 1954 (mostly 60s/70s) White flight
Crash of city services
Wealth: Home ownership
1980s/1990s Gated communities
1990s-present: New Urbanization?
Growing in new architecture:
Henry Hobson Richardson
Romanesque Richardson surpassed by modernist Louis Sullivan
Frederick Law Olmsted: Transcendentalist appeal of nature: Regulated nature in the parks (regimented nature)
Outline a flat: 6* 12 on floor
Construction: Why not use steel?
Reformers: Dumbell tenements
Read pp. 106 in the primary source book: Mary Antin Praises America
New vs. Old Immigrants
What triggered shift in immigration?
Maturity of Western industry
Oppression/slow industrialization of East/South
Pogroms in Russia
Chinese with Railroad labor contracts
Do Chinese count as “New immigrants?”
Impact on wages
Corrupt machine politics
De facto segregation (vs. de jure)
Social associations: Provide social services
Modern day evolution: Birthday clubs
Melting Pot theory
True at one point and not others?
Discomfort with those who won’t assimilate
Theory of visual Americanization: Persistance of racism against blacks/refusal to assimilate (Irish example: Asian counter-example)
Oscar Handlin: The uprooted
Isolated from children
Common complaint: Our children are Americans
John Bodnar: The Transplanted
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
You have three pieces of homework due for the next test.
Amsco 19 notes and mc
Amsco 20 notes and mc
Complete the 19_20 crossword puzzle.
Notebooks will be collected on the test day.
Thursday/Friday: The New Urbanization lecture
Monday/Tuesday: Test on 19 and 20.
AP Point Possibilities:
A) Choose one skyscraper built at the turn of the century. Find several images of the skyscraper. Use text to explain to the poster viewers how this particular building reflects the technology and spirit of turn of the century America.
B) Research a Frederick Law Olmsted installation. Using a landscape plan, show how Olmsted’s design ideas are represented in that park or garden.
C) Research how “dumbbell” tenements hoped to improve the lot of the working poor. On the poster, explain the urban challenges these tenements were designed to overcome and show, schematically, how the architecture of these buildings tried to meet those challenges.
D) Make a powerpoint showing America’s territorial acquisitions from 1787 to 1914.
E) Make a powerpoint that annotates and explains the Cross of Gold Speech.
F) Make a powerpoint that gives an overview of the great muckrakers discussed by Amsco.
G) Compare the “old immigrants” with the “new immigrants.” Use at least ten points of comparison.
H) Show how monetary policy affects debtors and creditors. Make links to the Greenback party, silverites, and the Populists.
I) Create a poster that displays the elements of the Omaha Platform.
J) Create a web organizer showing the different elements of the Progressive reform package.
K) Compare the ideology of W.E.B. DuBois, Booker T. Washington, and Marcus Garvey. Draw analogies with the philosophies of modern African-American leaders.
L) Find three cartoons supporting or opposing the Chinese Exclusion Act. Explain each cartoon.
M) Draw a political cartoon (poster size) that supports or opposes Carrie Nation’s crusade. Your cartoon should have at least five recognizable symbolic elements.
N) Find three cartoons published during the debate over Imperialism. Explain each cartoon.
O) Find three cartoons portraying the Big Stick policy and assess the viewpoint of the cartoonists.
P) Research train buffs who like to recreate streetcar lines – write a short paper explaining how these hobbyists try to capture a snapshot of urban history.
Q) Choose one of the authors discussed in Amsco sections 17-20 and explain how that person’s writing reflected the zeitgeist (what a cool vocabulary word!).
R) Assess the morality of Jane Addams and the settlement houses. Were their good intentions undermined by their paternalism?
S) Explain how the ideas of Alfred Thayer Mahan influenced Theodore Roosevelt.
T) Compare the Boxer rebellion with the Ghost Dance movement.
U) Compare the theology of Russell Conwell and Josiah Strong.
V) Read Warren Zimmerman’s “First Great Triumph: How Five Americans Made Their Country A World Power.” THREE AP points. This is an awesome overview of the changes in America at the turn of the century. Highly recommended. (Will also make the Alfred Thayer Mahan point easy)
W) Choose three Jacob Riis photographs. Arrange them on posterboard and explain what they portray.
X) Create a collage that shows the path of Hawaiian Annexation. Do not use any words. The viewer should be able to tell what happened in several discrete events.
Y) Read and annotate the “Man With a Hoe” reading.
Z) Choose to complete a DBQ at the end of chapters 17-20.
AA) Prepare a tape or cd in which you play a selection of music from the time period, then explain in your own words how that music is representative of American culture at the turn of the century. (Fair use for educational purposes puts you on safe legal ground). If you are a musician and want to play or sing the music yourself, I’ll give you a second AP point.
BB) Film yourself delivering a speech by either William Jennings Bryan, Mary Elizabeth Lease, or Eugene Debs. Turn in the video with a hardcopy of the speech to Mr. Tueting.
Monday, March 22, 2010
I'm shocked, shocked to see that kids use cell phones to record their teachers. Technology has changed and many of us old fogies still don't get it. I'm pro-cell phone camera in class (I've noticed many of you become more focused when acting as videographers for a dancing monkey routine). What do you think?
Article reprinted below for educational purposes.
Why Teachers Want to Ban Cellphone Cameras From Classrooms
A bill that would create a task force to study the impact of cellphone cameras and video-recording devices in Connecticut classrooms has sparked a debate between educators who say the captured content can be harmful to their careers and those who say that restricting what images students can document might lead to battles over free speech.
The state's largest teachers union is leading the push for state lawmakers to intervene. Union leaders say imposing limits on the use of cameras and other recording devices in school might be necessary to prevent damaging videos and pictures from ending up on Facebook and YouTube. The Hartford Courant reports that there are thousands of these videos online. One pokes fun at a Connecticut high school physics teacher who is shown "flailing his arms, short-hopping across the classroom, then pushing against the wall" in an attempt to demonstrate how molecules move. The problem is that the surreptitiously shot video doesn't carry the teacher's explanation of the principles, only the sound of instrumental music. The teacher, who had no knowledge of the video's existence until the newspaper contacted him, has since asked a former student to take it off the Web. Still, the union says that secret recordings of teachers are an "increasing concern" and that they can hurt teachers' reputations and put minors at risk.
Legal experts argue that teachers have a limited expectation of privacy in the classroom. They say that attempts to regulate what students can film or record can provoke free speech challenges. In some cases, students have used recording devices to capture teachers behaving inappropriately. A Connecticut high school math teacher was suspended in 2006 after a cellphone video that appeared on the Internet showed him hurling a homophobic slur at a student.
The state legislature is likely to decide whether to move forward with the bill by April 6.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
2) When we talked about Washington's leadership, I contrasted his ability to be decisive even when information was limited and contrasted that with the classic "smart kid disease," informational paralysis. The Volokh Conspiracy has an interesting post about the relationship between chess skill and intelligence and also moves on to the meta-idea of specialization vs. renaissance approaches. I was struck by one commenter's near perfect definition of informational paralysis:
Smart people often have trouble making decisions. They see all sides or possibilities to an issue and can have difficulty choosing among (what they perceive as) very similar options. They over think the problem and get stuck. This is why you have incredibly intelligent people who don’t know what to wear in the morning.
By my man George Will. Do these quotes ring true?
But the theory that praise, self-esteem and accomplishment increase in tandem is false. Children incessantly praised for their intelligence (often by parents who are really praising themselves) often underrate the importance of effort. Children who open their lunchboxes and find mothers' handwritten notes telling them how amazingly bright they are tend to falter when they encounter academic difficulties. Also, Bronson and Merryman say that overpraised children are prone to cheating because they have not developed strategies for coping with failure.
What about this one?
The school day starts too early because that is convenient for parents and teachers. Awakened at dawn, teenage brains are still releasing melatonin, which makes them sleepy. This is one reason young adults are responsible for half of the 100,000 annual "fall asleep" automobile crashes. When Edina, Minn., changed its high school start from 7:25 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., math/verbal SAT scores rose substantially.
4) Chuck Norris calls me out.
Chuck defends the Texas School Board, defends a Bible-based curriculum and oddly uses a Jefferson quote that was made to support the separation of church and state to denounce the spearation of church and state here. In the interest of equal time, you should check it out. Chuck's warning against critics is bone-chilling:
My personal warning to educational tyranny and tyrants is this: best not to test or mess with Texas. If you thought we fought hard for the Alamo, wait until you see what we can do for the right to educate our children. You can hide behind your No. 2 pencils, but our branding irons will find your tail sides.
Eric Foner, as you will recall, was the Economic Determinist historian who wrote "Reconstruction" and attributed its failure to economic motivations of the various northern constituencies. He's one of the leading living American historians.
Boy, I wish the school's streaming video filter would let me watch this.
Here it is.
UPDATE: I tried pasting the embed code below, but on the school computer no screen shows up. In the off chance that it would be visible on a non-filtered home computer, I'm leaving it up. If you can see the video at home, please let me know in the comments.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|I's on Edjukashun - Texas School Board|
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
From the New York Times:
Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change
AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.
The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.
The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.
In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.
Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers.
“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”
Battles over what to put in science and history books have taken place for years in the 20 states where state boards must adopt textbooks, most notably in California and Texas. But rarely in recent history has a group of conservative board members left such a mark on a social studies curriculum.
Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, “They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don’t exist.”
“They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians,” she said. “They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world.”
The curriculum standards will now be published in a state register, opening them up for 30 days of public comment. A final vote will be taken in May, but given the Republican dominance of the board, it is unlikely that many changes will be made.
The standards, reviewed every decade, serve as a template for textbook publishers, who must come before the board next year with drafts of their books. The board’s makeup will have changed by then because Dr. McLeroy lost in a primary this month to a more moderate Republican, and two others — one Democrat and one conservative Republican — announced they were not seeking re-election.
There are seven members of the conservative bloc on the board, but they are often joined by one of the other three Republicans on crucial votes. There were no historians, sociologists or economists consulted at the meetings, though some members of the conservative bloc held themselves out as experts on certain topics.
The conservative members maintain that they are trying to correct what they see as a liberal bias among the teachers who proposed the curriculum. To that end, they made dozens of minor changes aimed at calling into question, among other things, concepts like the separation of church and state and the secular nature of the American Revolution.
“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”
They also included a plank to ensure that students learn about “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”
Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.
“Republicans need a little credit for that,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise some students.”
Mr. Bradley won approval for an amendment saying students should study “the unintended consequences” of the Great Society legislation, affirmative action and Title IX legislation. He also won approval for an amendment stressing that Germans and Italians as well as Japanese were interned in the United States during World War II, to counter the idea that the internment of Japanese was motivated by racism.
Other changes seem aimed at tamping down criticism of the right. Conservatives passed one amendment, for instance, requiring that the history of McCarthyism include “how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.” The Venona papers were transcripts of some 3,000 communications between the Soviet Union and its agents in the United States.
Mavis B. Knight, a Democrat from Dallas, introduced an amendment requiring that students study the reasons “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”
It was defeated on a party-line vote.
After the vote, Ms. Knight said, “The social conservatives have perverted accurate history to fulfill their own agenda.”
In economics, the revisions add Milton Friedman and Friedrich von Hayek, two champions of free-market economic theory, among the usual list of economists to be studied, like Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes. They also replaced the word “capitalism” throughout their texts with the “free-enterprise system.”
“Let’s face it, capitalism does have a negative connotation,” said one conservative member, Terri Leo. “You know, ‘capitalist pig!’ ”
In the field of sociology, another conservative member, Barbara Cargill, won passage of an amendment requiring the teaching of “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders.
“The topic of sociology tends to blame society for everything,” Ms. Cargill said.
Even the course on world history did not escape the board’s scalpel.
Cynthia Dunbar, a lawyer from Richmond who is a strict constitutionalist and thinks the nation was founded on Christian beliefs, managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)
“The Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based,” Ms. Dunbar said.
We referenced "Nonzero" by Robert Wright during our Industrialization lecture and I will use the thesis of the book when we discuss the Exodusters tomorrow morning. I highly encourage you to read it - I'll even bribe you with two AP points.
Here is a website that discusses the book in a bit more depth. Check it out.
Reference to Hamilton and 1st industrial revolution (with Whitney)
1st sentence in Amsco 17: America, by 1900, outproduces England, Germany, and France combined.
20th century: American Century
World-straddling colossus (vocab)
Thank you Hamilton/TR
Interrelated; feed on each other: Maelstrom (vocab)
Not unique; USSR/Russia, Africa, China: Not effectively utilized
Capitalism v. Planned economy resource allocation
Robert Wright’s Nonzero
Jared Diamond’s Collapse
Long term consequences (JD: long term private interest)
Problem w/capitalism: Short term = pollution
(But worse under planned economy i.e. ALL Eastern Europe)
American mixed economy balances extraction w/conservation
Have we gone too far? Red-Cockaded woodpecker, gopher tortoise, Caribou in ANWR?
Acres in forest: Actually increasing (environmental doomsayers (vocab))
Economic dislocation, mechanization of agriculture, repressive regimes, pogroms
Railroad v. canal
Cheapness of transportation
Allows e. of s.
Transportation + People
New Business techniques
Economies of scale
NOT laissez faire: Ideology not reality
Intervention on behalf of capital
T.R. first to give labor “Square Deal”
U.S. Patent system
Gordon Gecko: Greed is good
Innovation drives productivity
Risk = Reward
Risky (small business failure rate)
Would jobs exist if Rich not allowed to run business as they see fit?
Ronald Reagan: A rising tide lifts all boats
Poor in America vs. rest of the world
Vast material wealth
Jesus loves money?
Link to slavery justifications
Russell Conwell: Acres of Diamonds
(Later response: Rauschenbush)
Helping poor is against God’s plan.
Poor are poor by God’s Will. Punishment for laziness, test for faith (Job)
Explicitly exempts society; concerned about implications
Blends w/racism in South
Recently: Bell Curve book (Richard Hernstein and Charles Murray)
Diamond’s Guns, Germs, Steel
Make Problem Web
TOPOGRAPHY: Wind/violent storms
Mountainous buffer effect
Precipitation low, concentrated in time
Little surface water
No topographic change to concentrate water (rivulets)
Deep ground water
Evolution of grasslands
Biological feedback loop: Dense roots leads to more organic matter leads to dense roots
Adaptation to deep groundwater with deep roots
Soil “UPPENS”: Deep, solid sod
Organic matter decomposing/RUMINANT manure = most fertile soil in world
Access to market
Solutions to problems (student brainstorm)
Wind/rain INSOLUBLE (vocab); but precipitation mitigated by windmill
Steel windmill: 24 hour pump utilizes wind; stores water for irrigation/livestock
Shippable (Railroad) and affordable (Steel cheap b/c Bessamer process)
Soddies – turf bricks (Corrugated tin roof - shippable) (temporary until crops come in, give cash for shipped lumber). Later: Lumber OR SEARS KIT HOUSE
Bison patties for heat
Planting an orchard/woodlot essential first task
Joseph Glidden’s barb wire – little wood needed for fences.
Flat topography/no need for physical strength: Spacing of posts 50 – 100 feet
Wire/few posts shippable
Long term unintended consequence: Barbed wire for warfare
“Busts” the sod
Railroad could solve access to market BUT
Limits o’ capitalism (Tueting is a commie!)
Capitalism works – see quote on wall, recent Obama statement.
Capitalism also could not solve railroad issue
Subsidies PLUS Homestead Act
Subsidies: Land grants, direct cash
Homestead Act: Political review, economic incentive
Could not be done with South in Congress. Why?
Same with the Morrill Land Grant Act
Other limits of capitalism (connect to today)
America as pharmaceutical powerhouse
Hydrogen fuel cell cars – chicken and egg,
Hard sciences vs. applied sciences (supercollider)
Mitigated by some gov. funding
Liquidity Trap – Keynesian Answer
Northwest and Great Plains comparison
Ed = no ed (labor, distance, declining value due to industrialization)
Rough equality == Variable due to variables in plot (access/water)
Gov participation == Control by elite (populism a response, but stopped by isolation)
Community oriented == Isolated, Individual, Atavistic (vocab)
Ecologically sustainable == Sodbuster start erosion cycle; three generations to destroy soil reservoir built up by millions of years. Dust bowl. (Israel/Hohokam comparison)
Family voluntary == Family necessary as economic unit
Debt comes after unity (three generations prior to Civil War borrowing == Starting in debt and always increasing (populism).
Monday, March 15, 2010
But when states disagree with the thrust of national legislation, state legislatures often set up direct conflicts with the national government.
Remember that Wisconsin passed a law making it a felony to assist slavecatchers in the wake of the 1850 strengthening of the Fugitive Slave Law. If you didn't assist the slavecatchers, you were violating federal law. You will recall that one of the biggest complaints of South Carolina's Secession Ordinance was that northern states were exercising states' rights to interfere with the enforcement of federal law.
In the last decades, "range wars" have broken out when Western states have objected to the conservationist bent of federal land policy. State lawmakers began asserting that their power superseded federal power regarding federal land within their states (never mind that pesky McCullough v. Maryland).
During the last administration, California passed laws that legalized medical marijuana. Bush enforced federal pot laws and fought a head on battle with the states' rights folks in the "hippie utopia" (Says Tueting with a snarky smile). The court decision in Raich not only upheld the Supremacy Clause, it massively expanded the power of the Interstate Commerce Clause.
Virginia, fearing the application of Full Faith and Credit when Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, passed a Constitutional Amendment refusing to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. We will see a Supreme Court ruling relating to that Amendment in the next couple of years.
Last week, our Virginia legislature, anticipating a Democratic Party health care bill that would require citizens to purchase health insurance, passed a law making federal law illegal. The clear sense of the legislature, including many Virginia Democrats, is that a mandate is undesirable. Their bill is largely symbolic - we will lose hard under the Supremacy Clause, but a strong statement has been made.
Washington Post Article reprinted below for educational purposes:
Va OKs 1st bill banning mandated health coverage
By BOB LEWIS
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 10, 2010; 5:10 PM
RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia's General Assembly became the first in the nation Wednesday to approve legislation that bucks any attempt by President Barack Obama and Congress to implement a national health care overhaul in individual states.
The Republican-ruled House of Delegates, with wide Democratic support, voted 80-17 without debate for the largely symbolic step aimed at the Democratic-backed reforms pushed by Obama and stalled in Congress. The vote sends the measure to Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell who intends to sign it.
Thirty-four other state legislatures have either filed or proposed similar measures - statutes or constitutional amendments - rejecting health insurance mandates, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Obama carried Virginia in his historic ride to the presidency in 2008, the first Democrat to do so in a presidential race in 44 years. But since then, the tide has turned. Virginia's Republicans routed Democrats in last year's gubernatorial and legislative elections, partly because of public distrust of Democrats' proposed health care reforms.
GOP lawmakers expedited the bill and three others like it as a legislative statement reflecting broad voter discontent over the proposed reforms. Virginia's legislative session is, on average, the nation's briefest, and the bill passed four days ahead of Saturday's scheduled adjournment.
The legality of bills like Virginia's is questionable because courts generally rule that federal laws supersede those of the states.
The bill's sponsor, Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, and other supporters advocated the measure as a defiant statement to an overreaching federal government. They say it falls under the Constitution's 10th Amendment that deals with state sovereignty. Marshall said he expects the law to be challenged and ultimately decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
"There are limited powers the federal government has. Simply because of the supremacy clause, it doesn't mean anything that the Congress does, in fact, must be enforced at all levels of government in the United States," Marshall said in an interview after his bill won passage.
"It gives the state of Virginia the right to intervene on behalf of individuals should they decide not to pay for insurance and they refuse to pay the fine or they refuse to pay the fee or the tax or whatever you call it," he said.
Separate bills passed by the U.S. House and Senate would impose a penalty on people who don't have health insurance except in cases of financial hardship. The intent of the mandate is to expand the pool of people who are insured and paying premiums and thus offset the increased costs of insuring those with preexisting conditions or other risks.
More distressing for Virginia Democrats was that 21 of their 39 delegates in the 100-member House sided with the GOP in defying the initiative that is their party's national priority.
There was no immediate response to a telephone message seeking comment from former Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, now chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
DNC spokesman Alec Gerlach said Virginia's legislation only burdens middle-income families struggling to pay insurance premiums and medical bills, adding "they'll have to answer to those folks on election day."
One opponent of the bill likened its passage to Virginia's failed efforts to defy federal orders to desegregate public schools in the 1950s.
"It's a rejection of the federal role in the provision of health care and an extension of the old idea of interposition," said Del. James M. Scott, D-Fairfax. He was referring to a discredited legal theory that the state had a right to interpose itself to shield residents from some federal directives.
Read the Washington Post article below and then make a participation post in the comments. You should answer two questions: Would a monetary reward make you study harder for the AP exam? Should parents or schools offer a cash reward of, say, $500 for a passing grade? Note that the two questions are separate. You might study harder if cash was offered and still believe that offering cash is a bad policy. Or your study habits might be immune to the bribe but you think it should be offered if it might motivate other students.
Article reprinted for educational purposes:
Incentives Can Make Or Break Students
Ethical Issues Come With Gains on Tests
By Bill Turque
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 2, 2008
The inducements range from prepaid cellphones to MP3 players to gift certificates. But most of them are cash: $10 for New York City seventh-graders who complete a periodic test; $50 for Chicago high school freshmen who ace their courses; as much as $110 to Baltimore students for improved scores on the Maryland High School Assessments.
Desperate for ways to ratchet up test scores and close the achievement gap separating white and minority students, school officials from Tucson to Boston are paying kids who put up good numbers.
The District joined the list this fall, launching a one-year study of 3,300 middle schoolers who can earn up to $100 every two weeks for good grades, behavior and attendance. On Oct. 17, the first payday for the Capital Gains program, students collected an average of $43.
The efforts vary widely in scope and objective. But nearly all trigger passionate arguments about the wisdom of monetizing academic achievement.
Critics denounce the initiatives as bribery and say the money could be better invested in ideas known to work, such as smaller class size. They also point to a body of psychological research suggesting that tangible rewards can erode children's intrinsic motivation. DePaul University education professor Ronald Chennault says there are ethical issues posed by the ventures, most of which are experimental and dependent on private funding and local political support.
"The potential for harm is, what happens after the incentive no longer exists?" Chennault asked. "Not everything is worth trying."
Capital Gains has emerged as an issue in this fall's at-large D.C. Council races. At an education forum last week, candidate Patrick Mara said he was "completely disgusted" by the idea at first but is now willing to see how it works. Incumbent Carol Schwartz said she never would have proposed such a plan but doesn't object. Incumbent Kwame R. Brown and challenger David Schwartzman are opposed, with Brown echoing Chennault's concerns about what happens when awards disappear.
Proponents, who include Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, assert that the initiatives are a modest attempt to give children from low-income families a taste of the rewards, formal and informal, that kids from well-off backgrounds have enjoyed for years.
"Wealthy parents in the suburban area, they give their kids a car. They take them on a trip to Hawaii. They send them around the world," Daley told reporters last month at the launch of the city's "Green for Grades" project. "These kids don't even get out of their homes for many, many years."
Although a flurry of incentive programs have started up in the past year, the idea is as old as gold stars. Some school systems have had cash initiatives in place for years. So what difference do they make?
The evidence, not surprisingly, is murky. Even the apparent success stories come with caveats and qualifications.
For the past 12 years, a Dallas nonprofit group, Advanced Placement Strategies, has targeted more than 100 Texas high schools with predominantly minority and low-income students, offering up to $500 for top scores on AP tests in English, math and science. A new study by Cornell University economist Kirabo Jackson found that the program produced a sizable increase in the number of juniors and seniors taking AP or International Baccalaureate exams. Jackson also linked higher SAT and ACT scores to the effort.
But the Texas initiative also rewarded teachers, with annual bonuses of up to $10,000. Gregg Fleisher, former head of Advanced Placement Strategies, said instructors are "the missing big variable" in a lot of incentive programs.
"When you address student-only incentives, you only attack half the issue," said Fleisher, who is working to replicate the Texas strategy in 67 schools across six states, including Virginia, this fall for the National Math and Science Initiative, founded in 2005 with a $125 million grant from ExxonMobil to improve math and science education.
A new New York program inspired by the Texas effort but that does not give cash incentives to teachers has not fared as well. The privately funded Rewarding Achievement offered up to $1,000 to students at 31 high schools for high AP test scores. More than 340 additional students took the tests this year, but the number who passed dipped slightly. Collective bargaining agreements in New York sharply restrict incentive pay for teachers.
Researchers say the commitment of all adults is essential to student reward programs. A Stanford University study of 186 charter schools with incentives showed a "consistent impact" averaging four percentile points on reading scores. The report, released in May, said the stronger and more enthusiastic the staff and parents, the larger the gains.
Some programs seem to reinforce concerns about the consequences of withdrawing the incentives.
Since 2005, the small central Ohio town of Coshocton has given half of its third- through sixth-graders "Coshocton Kid Bucks" -- gift certificates redeemable at businesses -- for good scores on state exams.
The only significant gains were in math scores, according to Superintendent David Hire. More tellingly, scores of students who were deemed eligible through a lottery one year but ineligible the next fell.
Detractors also point to research on the corrosive quality of tangible rewards on student motivation. In one study, University of Rochester psychologist Edward L. Deci gave two groups of college students building-block puzzles to work on. One group got $1 for every puzzle solved; the other received nothing. When Deci said the experiment was over and encouraged everyone to relax, those getting the money were more likely to abandon the puzzles.
In 2001, Deci and three colleagues published an analysis of 128 studies on the effects of tangible rewards, concluding that they "do significantly and substantially undermine intrinsic motivation." This was especially true, they said, for young children.
The District's Capital Gains project is part of what is likely to be the most influential study of cash incentives for kids. It is led by Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr., who has also set up the incentive programs in New York and Chicago, with the help of the Broad Foundation as part of a larger effort to bring the rigor of private research and development to educational issues.
Each program is designed to study different sets of inducements for various age groups.
Freshmen and sophomores at 20 Chicago high schools get $50 for each A in a five-week marking period, $35 for a B and $20 for a C. An F negates any cash reward for a given period. Half of all student earnings are withheld until graduation.
New York's Spark program, now in its second year, focuses on fourth- and seventh-graders at 59 city schools. Younger students get $5 for completing each of 10 periodic tests; seventh-graders get $10.
Fryer said he will be the first to call for abandoning cash incentives if they are shown to have no significant impact.
"This is not a silver bullet," he said during a recent visit to the District. "But it's better than sitting around and doing nothing."
Shelontae Carter is not quite as sure. Carter, whose son Christian is an eighth-grader at Shaw at Garnet-Patterson Middle School, said she's willing to try Capital Gains but sees numerous potential pitfalls: resentment from kids whose grades or behavior don't earn them much, parents who claim the money for themselves.
"I don't know if it's going to be good for very long down the road," she said. "I know that when you give rewards, it can go both ways."
Research director Lucy Shackelford and staff writer Nikita Stewart contributed to this report.
Friday, March 12, 2010
I love me my George Will. Article reprinted below for educational purposes.
As a progressive, Obama hews to the Wilsonian tradition
By George F. Will
Thursday, March 11, 2010; A21
There are legislative miles to go before the government will be emancipated from its health-care myopia, but it is not too soon for a summing-up. Whether all or nothing of the legislation becomes law, Barack Obama has refuted critics who call him a radical. He has shown himself to be a timid progressive.
His timidity was displayed when he flinched from fighting for the boldness the nation needs -- a transition from the irrationality of employer-provided health insurance. His progressivism is an attitude of genteel regret about the persistence of politics.
Employer-paid insurance is central to what David Gratzer of the Manhattan Institute calls "the 12 cent problem." That is how much of every health-care dollar is spent by the person receiving the care. Hence Americans' buffet mentality: We paid at the door to the health-care feast, so let's consume all we can.
John McCain had the correct prescription for health care during the 2008 campaign. He proposed serious change -- taxing employer-provided health care as what it indisputably is, compensation, and giving tax credits, including refundable ones, for individuals to purchase insurance. Instead, as the legislative endgame plods toward us on leaden feet, the sprawling bills would subsidize insurance purchases for families of four earning almost $100,000 a year, a redundant reminder of unseriousness about the nation's fiscal mismanagement.
Of course, there now is a commission of experts to recommend cures for this. It should be called the Philip Dru Memorial Commission.
In a scintillating book coming in June ("The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris"), Peter Beinart dissects the progressivism of Woodrow Wilson. Edward House, Wilson's closest adviser, wrote an awful but indicative novel, "Philip Dru: Administrator." With the nation in crisis, Dru seizes power, declares himself "Administrator of the Republic" and replaces Congress with a commission of five experts who decree reforms that selfish interests had prevented.
Wilson, once a professor of political science, said that the Princeton he led as its president was dedicated to unbiased expertise, and he thought government could be "reduced to science." Progressives are forever longing to replace the governance of people by the administration of things. Because they are entirely public-spirited, progressives volunteer to be the administrators, and to be as disinterested as the dickens.
How gripped was Wilson by what Beinart calls "the hubris of reason"? Beinart writes:
"He even recommended to his wife that they draft a constitution for their marriage. Let's write down the basic rules, he suggested; 'then we can make bylaws at our leisure as they become necessary.' It was an early warning sign, a hint that perhaps the earnest young rationalizer did not understand that there were spheres where abstract principles didn't get you very far, where reason could never be king."
Professor Obama, who will seek reelection on the 100th anniversary of Wilson's 1912 election, understands, which makes him melancholy. Speaking to Katie Couric on Feb. 7, Obama said:
"I would have loved nothing better than to simply come up with some very elegant, academically approved approach to health care, and didn't have any kinds of legislative fingerprints on it, and just go ahead and have that passed. But that's not how it works in our democracy. Unfortunately, what we end up having to do is to do a lot of negotiations with a lot of different people."
Note his aesthetic criterion of elegance, by which he probably means sublime complexity. During the yearlong health-care debate, Republicans such as Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee have consistently cautioned against the conceit that government is good at "comprehensive" solutions to the complex problems of a continental nation. Obama has consistently argued, in effect, that the health-care system is like a Calder mobile -- touch it here and things will jiggle here, there and everywhere. Because everything is connected to everything else, merely piecemeal change is impossible.
So note also Obama's yearning for something "academically approved" rather than something resulting from "a lot of negotiations with a lot of different people," a.k.a. politics. Here, too, Obama is in the spirit of the U.S. president who first was president of the American Political Science Association.
Wilson was the first president to criticize the Founding Fathers. He faulted them for designing a government too susceptible to factions that impede disinterested experts from getting on with government undistracted. Like Princeton's former president, Obama's grievance is with the greatest Princetonian, the "father of the Constitution," James Madison, Class of 1771.
Thomas Jefferson just got removed as an example of the Enlightenment. And Texas' history standards will not mention the importance of Jefferson's Enlightenment thinking to the American Revolution. They are willing to let students learn about the Enlightenment's impact on European revolution, but seem to want to slant history to say that ours was a society based on the Bible, not John Locke.
No, I'm not making that up. If you recall from our Bacon's Rebellion class that Texas has a disproportionate impact on textbook adoption, we might actually see Jefferson Baconized (neologisms are cool!) in future textbooks.
Liveblogging notes reprinted below for educational purposes. Thanks to "Dispatches from the Culture Wars."
Posted on: March 12, 2010 12:09 PM, by Ed Brayton
The Texas Freedom Network continues to live blog the Texas State Board of Education hearings where the collection of ignorant dolts on that board debate and amend the social studies standards. And it's getting downright surreal. They actually removed Thomas Jefferson and the Enlightenment from the history standards. Seriously.
9:27 - The board is taking up remaining amendments on the high school world history course.
9:30 - Board member Cynthia Dunbar wants to change a standard having students study the impact of Enlightenment ideas on political revolutions from 1750 to the present. She wants to drop the reference to Enlightenment ideas (replacing with "the writings of") and to Thomas Jefferson. She adds Thomas Aquinas and others. Jefferson's ideas, she argues, were based on other political philosophers listed in the standards. We don't buy her argument at all. Board member Bob Craig of Lubbock points out that the curriculum writers clearly wanted to students to study Enlightenment ideas and Jefferson. Could Dunbar's problem be that Jefferson was a Deist? The board approves the amendment, taking Thomas Jefferson OUT of the world history standards.
9:40 - We're just picking ourselves up off the floor. The board's far-right faction has spent months now proclaiming the importance of emphasizing America's exceptionalism in social studies classrooms. But today they voted to remove one of the greatest of America's Founders, Thomas Jefferson, from a standard about the influence of great political philosophers on political revolutions from 1750 to today.
9:45 - Here's the amendment Dunbar changed: "explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present." Here's Dunbar's replacement standard, which passed: "explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone." Not only does Dunbar's amendment completely change the thrust of the standard. It also appalling drops one of the most influential political philosophers in American history -- Thomas Jefferson.
9:51 - Dunbar's amendment striking Jefferson passed with the votes of the board's far-right members and board member Geraldine "Tincy" Miller of Dallas.
The standard was about the Enlightenment and political revolutions that led to modern liberal democracy. So they removed the Enlightenment references and Thomas Jefferson, who played a key role in the two most prominent revolutions in the history of the Western world, and replaced them with Thomas Aquinas, who lived 500 years before the Enlightenment, and John Calvin, who lived 200 years before the Enlightenment and was a major figure in an entirely different period of history, the Reformation, which preceded the Enlightenment.
Yes, you should, in fact, be mouthing the words "what the fuck" right about now.
And the stupidity continues:
11:21 - Board member Barbara Cargill wants to insert a discussion of the right to bear arms in a standard that focuses on First Amendment rights and the expression of various points of view. This is absurd. If they want students to study the right to bear arms, at least try to find an appropriate place in the standards for it. This is yet another example of politicians destroying the coherence of a curriculum document for no reason other than promoting ideological pet causes. Republican board member Bob Craig of Lubbock is suggesting a better place for such a standard. But the amendment passes anyway. The board's far-right faction is simply impervious to logic.
11:30 - Board member Pat Hardy notes that elsewhere the standards already require students to study each of the freedoms and rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. No one seems to care.
11:33 - Bob Craig tries, once again, to talk some sense into these folks. Board member Cynthia Dunbar argues that the original standard's focus on the rights of "petition, assembly, speech, and press in a democratic society" unfairly emphasizes the First Amendment over others. She suggests taking that out altogether if the Second Amendment isn't included. Board member Ken Mercer argues that the right to bear arms is too important not to include here. But it IS included in the standards. The purpose of the original standard is to have students understand the rights to free expression in a democratic society. The right to bear arms is not relevant to that purpose.
Yep, that one passed too. Oh, and this about church and state:
12:28 - Board member Mavis Knight offers the following amendment: "examine the reasons the Founding Fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion over all others." Knight points out that students should understand that the Founders believed religious freedom was so important that they insisted on separation of church and state.
12:32 - Board member Cynthia Dunbar argues that the Founders didn't intend for separation of church and state in America. And she's off on a long lecture about why the Founders intended to promote religion. She calls this amendment "not historically accurate."
12:35 - Knight's amendment fails on a straight party-line vote, 5-10. Republicans vote no, Democrats vote yes.
12:38 - Let the word go out here: The Texas State Board of Education today refused to require that students learn that the Constitution prevents the U.S. government from promoting one religion over all others. They voted to lie to students by omission.
If you have children in school in Texas, I strongly suggest moving.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Article reprinted below for educational reasons.
Technology and TenureBy JAMES MCWILLIAMS
Yesterday I learned that my university’s library bought a database of 180,000 scanned historical documents relevant to the eighteenth century. This database (like so many others available at major universities and research institutions) makes doing historical research immeasurably easier. It’s no exaggeration to say that, in many cases, a scholar can accomplish in a half hour what might otherwise have taken, literally, an entire career.
Consider my own recent experience. I was interested in writing an academic piece on the general perception of weeds in early America. To undertake this research, I accessed an on-line database of several hundred thousand documents from roughly 1640-1850. (Note: my university cannot afford this particular database, so I’ve gained access through the account of a close friend who works at an institution with ivy on the walls.) Within an hour, I‘d found and printed out more than 74 documents (out of 187 found) with references to “weeds”—my chosen search term. Making matters even more convenient, the term was highlighted, thus obviating the need for me to read the full text.
Given the range of documents that came up, it’s safe to say that—had this powerhouse of a search engine not done the digging for me—it would have taken decades for me to find these obscure references to weeds, most of which are buried in documents living in a vault under some research library in Boston or Philadelphia (I live in Texas).
This experience is becoming increasingly common for those of us who work in the humanities and social sciences. And while I think there are many downsides to relying too heavily, or exclusively, on this form of research, there’s no doubt that it allows the engaged scholar to pursue questions in a much more streamlined (and inexpensive) manner. Which brings me to my question—one that I ask with some trepidation in light of the recent shootings at a University of Alabama faculty meeting: Should publishing requirements for tenure go up for scholars in the humanities and social sciences?
Right now it’s typical for a history department to require the publication of a book for tenure—some places, like my own institution, will accept five peer-reviewed articles (which basically means you can cannibalize your dissertation). Writing a serious book in six years (the average time for tenure review) is no mean feat, but keep in mind that every newly minted Ph.D. has already done most of the research for his or her book when the tenure clock starts. It’s just a matter of revising the dissertation into a book. Not easy, but then again, not a project that necessarily demands six years. It’s perhaps for this reason that some universities are starting to demand the publication of a book and “significant progress” toward a second.
But, to my knowledge, that’s as aggressive as upping the tenure requirements have gotten. Again, I’m entertaining this claim with many reservations—for example, upping tenure requirements will most likely lead to an increase in mediocre work—but I think there’s a case to be made that a university’s tenure demands should keep pace with technological advances. Recall, it took me an hour to generate a decent document base for my weed article, a couple of days to see what other historians have said about the topic (not much), and a few weeks to write the piece.
But, to keep this idea in check, I should note that my piece was not outright accepted, leaving me to settle with the purgatorial “revise and resubmit.” So, as you might guess, it’s back to the databases for me.
Have parents tell their kids what they want them to learn in college.
Share with larger group.
One idea will probably predominate: Prepare for careers.
This is a ripple effect of the Morrill Land Grant Act
Previous colleges: Religiously based (Harvard, Yale, W & M) but had moved towards legal/medical/philosophical roots.
In 186, moved towards middle class conception of usefulness: Agriculture and mechanical skills.
Sponsored by Vermont Congressman Justin Morrill,
Officially titled "An Act Donating Public Lands to the Several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts,"
30,000 acres of Federal land for each member in their Congressional delegation. Sold to finance colleges.
Older states with little federal land could choose and sell federal land in other states.
The land was then sold by the states and the proceeds used to fund public colleges that focused on agriculture and the mechanical arts. Sixty-nine colleges were funded by these land grants, including Cornell University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Virginia Tech, VSU (1890 Plessy v. Ferguson)
Agitation for 15 years previous: Midwest.
German-Americans had founded small private colleges. Joined by New England middle class.
What's better than paying for your kids to go to college? Having taxpayers do it.
South blocked the bill every year; planterocracy had private tutors and did not want to pay for other people's education.
But when the Civil War broke out, many bills blocked by South passed (also transcontinental railroad, Morrill Tariff, and Homestead Act (why would South block an act to encourage settlement of the Great Plains?)
The new act was for agriculture and mechanics (think polytechnic!): Economics based education. Middle class now has access to education.
Middle class still the major ally of education (protests against budget cuts).
Major innovation: Government support of higher ed. It works: productivity and innovation jumps.
Gilded Age wealth partially attributable to increased number of college graduates.
Expanded to blacks after Plessy.
Expanded to the poor with the G.I. Bil in 1945: 1950s economic boom.
Text of Act:
The Morrill Act (1862)
An Act donating Public Lands to the several States and Territories which may provide Colleges for the Benefit of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there be granted to the several States, for the purposes hereinafter mentioned, an amount of public land, to be apportioned to each State a quantity equal to thirty thousand acres for each senator and representative in Congress to which the States are respectively entitled by the apportionment under the census of eighteen hundred and sixty: Provided, That no mineral lands shall be selected or purchased under the provisions of this act.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the land aforesaid, after being surveyed, shall be apportioned to the several States in sections or subdivisions of sections, not less than one quarter of a section; and whenever there are public lands in a State subject to sale at private entry at one dollar and twenty five cents per acre, the quantity to which said State shall be entitled shall be selected from such lands within the limits of such State, and the Secretary of the Interior is hereby directed to issue to each of the States in which there is not the quantity of public lands subject to sale at private entry at one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre, to which said State may be entitled under the provisions of this act, land scrip to the amount in acres for the deficiency of its distributive share: said scrip to be sold by said States and the proceeds thereof applied to the uses and purposes prescribed in this act, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever...
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That all moneys derived from the sale of the lands aforesaid by the States to which the lands are apportioned, and from the sale of land scrip hereinbefore provided for, shall be invested in stocks of the United States, or of the States, or some other safe stocks, yielding not less than five per centum upon the par value of the said stocks; and that the moneys so invested shall constitute a perpetual fund, the capital of which shall remain forever undiminished, (except so far as may be provided in section fifth of this act,) and the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated, by each State which may take and claim the benefits of this act, to the endowment, support, and maintenance of at least one college where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the State may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life...
Sixth. No State while in a condition of rebellion or insurrection against the government of the United States shall be entitled to the benefit of this Act.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
From the Volokh Conspiracy:
Ilya Somin • March 2, 2010 1:02 am
Students at the University of Mississippi have started a campaign to replace the school’s longtime mascot Colonel Reb with Admiral Ackbar, leader of the Rebel Fleet in Star Wars. Colonel Reb was retired in 2003 because “coaches and athletic boosters concluded that C. Reb and other symbols of the Confederacy hurt the school’s recruiting prospects.” The movement has attracted national attention, and Lucasfilm says that they may license the use of Ackbar by Ole Miss.
Both science fiction fans and Confederacy-haters have reason to cheer this development. Given my view of the Confederacy (see here and here, and here), I fall into both categories. From a competitive standpoint, it also makes good sense to replace a mascot who represented an evil cause that failed with one that symbolizes a just cause that won. Winners make better mascots than losers.
The Ole Miss Rebel Alliance — the student group promoting Ackbar as the new mascot — originally did so as a joke. But they also acted for the more serious purpose of preventing the reinstatement of Colonel Reb:
Six days before the Ole Miss student body was called to vote on whether to accept the responsibility of developing a new mascot, four students came together to fill a void for those who were ready to lay Colonel Reb to rest.
Drawing comedic inspiration from a squid-like Star Wars character, Tyler Craft, Matthew Henry, Joseph Katool and Ben McMurtray launched the Ole Miss Rebel Alliance and unwittingly introduced Admiral Ackbar as a potential mascot candidate....
A Web site was created featuring the now-viral image of Ackbar dressed in a red hat and jacket similar to that of his predecessor....
“We started this as sort of a fun thing,” Craft said. “We did it with satire, fun and a little comedy. Admiral Ackbar represented the people who wanted to move forward, which apparently was a good portion of the campus.”
Ole Miss students got the joke, and through parody emerged another contender in the battle for a new mascot.
On one side stood the Colonel Reb Foundation, developed shortly after the former mascot’s removal in 2003, who launched a widespread advertising campaign in the days leading up to the vote encouraging students to oppose creating a new mascot.
McMurtray said it was obvious there was no organization pushing for the ‘yes’ vote.
“No independent organizations really voiced their support (for a new mascot), so that was our goal — to try to be that organization,” McMurtray said.
Those looking for an alternative to the colonel’s salvation suddenly had a common, albeit laughable, rallying point.
And rally they did. More than 2,500 students voted in favor of finalizing the university’s seven-year disassociation with its former mascot.
Suddenly, four jokesters found themselves at the forefront of not only a campus movement, but a national media blitz — one that removed focus from a university clinging to images representative of its divisive past to one where students were ready to move on.
Since the 1960s, scholars have spoken of the rise of a New South that is beginning to transcend the region’s legacy of slavery and segregation. The state of Mississippi was once one of the most segregationist of all, and the University of Mississippi was famously resistant to the admission of black students. This change is a small but interesting indication of the broader changes in the South over the last two generations. The legacy of segregation and the Myth of the Lost Cause certainly aren’t completely dead. But even at Ole Miss they are on their way out.