The “Tech Class” Reifies the “Two Americas”

The wealth created by tech companies is, if not beyond precedent, is probably beyond most of our comprehension. It is not without precedent because America has already experienced one Gilded Age. It’s merely started another, and we’re well into it. Continue reading

Public Housing Should Be Part of the Recovery

The poor continue struggling to find affordable housing. It seems especially acute in certain areas I’ve read about recently, areas going through drastic economic and racial demographic changes such as San Francisco, Oakland, and Washington DC. It seems to me that an expansion of federally-funded public housing should have had a larger role to play during the present on-going recovery. It certainly helped during the Great Depression, World War II, and postwar periods.

Continue reading

The Way I See It: Two Lessons from the AHA’s History PhD Study

In case you don’t follow everything the American Historical Association  does (for my pals over in English Literature, the AHA is history’s MLA), the organization released a study of history PhDs who received their degrees between 1998 and 2009. First, let me say that I was pleasantly surprised overall. I don’t think the study warrants the one-liner offered by the authors–that no PhDs “occupied the positions that often serve as punch lines for jokes . . . as baristas or short-order cooks”–cause that’s a pretty damn low bar you’re setting. For me, there are two overriding take-aways: one for history (and humanities) faculty and the other for employers at large.

Visualization of the jobs held by folks who got their PhD between 1998 and 2009

Visualization of the jobs held by folks who got their PhD between 1998 and 2009

Continue reading

The American Dream with a Few Rough Edges

 An Exhibit Review of The Ohio Historical Society’s “1950s: Building the American Dream”

“What lessons do we learn from Anne Frank?” So reads the first sentence of Edward Rothstein’s recent New York Times review of the new Anne Frank Exhibition at the Los Angeles Museum of Tolerance. The sentence is striking because it captures the primary mission of today’s museum: instruction. And, perhaps more than ever before, that educating is done with a heavy amount of text. I still have strained childhood memories of waiting for my sister and mom to hurry-up and finish reading every last thing at an exhibit so we could continue through the whole  museum (of course, I should thank them for that now that I’m older and wiser). While I have not had the opportunity to visit the Anne Frank exhibit, it sounds like the diary itself—and the text inside it—is the main attraction holding the various pieces together. The exhibit certainly appears to have an instructional goal in mind, which is even captured in the museum’s name. This style of presentation is mirrored in the recently opened “1950s: Building the American Dream” exhibit at the Ohio Historical Society, even while the two exhibit topics differ greatly. Continue reading

Big Business and Teaching Skills in School

In their daily email update, the education team over at Politico reported that representatives from big business are to sit down with national education policymakers (including Arne Duncan and Jeb Bush) to discuss Common Core. The idea, it sounds like, is to make sure schools are teaching students the things that business wants to see. This is not new. This sort of plan is as old as schooling itself. Continue reading

Obama’s Lousy Political Advisors

This post is not about moral agonizing over Syria. It is not about the soul-searching I believe President Obama or his advisors did before deciding to support a limited armed strike against Syria’s dictator, Bashar Assad. It is simply an observation about the political advising the president gets. And I can’t help but conclude he got some pretty lousy advice on this one. Continue reading