Something to Ponder: You Are a Bad Person If We Have Bad Public Schools

This is going to be short on purpose. A lot of hay has been made of the recent article in Slate by Alison Benedikt titled “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person.” Then, the National Review took up the issue and cleverly claimed “If You Send Your Kid to a Failing School, You Are a Bad Person” (which sounds like what I propose but is totally different). And finally, The Atlantic gave some good analysis (as it usually does) of Benedikt’s original argument, but even it still missed the larger issue. Continue reading

Chicago’s Messed Up “Public” School Situation

After sitting on it for a couple weeks (well, more than a couple…), I suppose now’s as good as ever to being my musings on the current state of “public” K-12 education in Chicago. (Why the “quotes”? We’ll get to that.) Over the course of this summer, the city government has decided to close some 50 under-attended public schools. Next, and which is a pretty sneaky move, the district is hiring Teach for America instructors to replace those teachers that were fired when the schools were closed. And lastly, the district has decided to open at least 4 new charters (since, apparently, the schools weren’t that under-attended). All of this gives off an unpleasant aroma. Continue reading

Why the GOP is actually angry about the potential Hilary Clinton documentary

A lot of fuss has been made over this the last couple days. Fox News has been running features with titles like “Reince Priebus blasts NBC, CNN Hillary Clinton film projects,” while Politico reports “GOP to NBC and CNN: Drop the Hillary Clinton Documentary, Or We’ll Drop You.”

At the core, there are really two reasons that the Republicans are all in a tizzy about the Hilary Clinton documentary. The GOP is both: A) angry that they cannot be the party representing the women’s movement and feminism in the upcoming elections, and B) assuming that the documentary will be flattering pro-liberal propaganda. The first is (largely) accurate; the second is (mostly) stupid. Continue reading

Making Sure History Is Made Relevant

At the start of each history course I’ve taught so far, I ask a few introductory questions to the students. Foremost among them are “what is history?” and “is history important?” 99% of my students have answered “yes” to the second and then gone on to provide explanations that usually center around something like, “it helps us avoid past mistakes” or “ it can give us insight about today.” Continue reading

Why the American Experience Intro Makes Me Cry…Every…Time

At this point I’m tired of it, just plain tired.  It’s been exhausting to even belly up to something as bereft of emotion as Minnesotan settler migration to Alaska, or The Amish.  Is having an “american experience” now more about struggling with these fractures of identity in the span of forty seconds, than waiting an hour to see how the Minnesotans decided it wasn’t really for them and eventually move back?  As a history student…nay, Historian, I have established my textbook and life experience understanding of what American identity is woven with, but this, this is something I am unable to unpack. Continue reading

What you haven’t read…

My partner sent me a link to an interesting article from the Chicago Tribune the other day:

“What your ‘unread books’ list reveals: Do the books that we haven’t read — and won’t — say more about us than the ones we repeatedly devour?”

In the article, Nara Schoenberg argues that it’s the books we decide not to read—and won’t—that really tell us about another person. And it’s a cool idea. And, I want to know what books you’ve consciously decided not to read and why. I’m also curious about what things we decide to watch as well. And yes, I will soon reveal myself to be a huge elitist jerk. Continue reading

Gringos in China

A semi-distant cousin of mine is currently teaching English in China for the year, to young children. Like many on study- and teach-abroad trips, she is keeping a blog, and on that blog, she sometimes says things that bewilder me.

On recent demolitions near her bus route to school:

I met a university student from Belgium who was interviewing villagers who had moved to Nanjing. A few of those villagers lived in housing that was going to be demolished by the government and who would then move to a new apartment (which was paid for by the government). The few people that she interviewed were happy to be moving to a new apartment since it would be more modern- indoor plumbing. But the sense of community is vastly different in an apartment complex. More time spent inside, less socializing, etc.

So. People who live in high-income times and places spend a lot more time at leisure, because they don’t have to work as much to earn a living. That they spend less time outside to “wash clothes, wash their hair, brush their teeth, etc” is a good thing.  Continue reading