Full Text Obama Presidency March 7, 2014: President Barack Obama’s Speech on Education, College Opportunity and Federal Student Aid

POLITICAL TRANSCRIPTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

A World-Class Education for Every Student in America

Source: WH, 3-7-14
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students in a classroom at Coral Reef Senior High School, Florida, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talks with students in a classroom at Coral Reef Senior High School, Fla., March 7, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Today, President Obama and the First Lady visited Coral Reef High School in Miami to discuss the President’s plan to equip all Americans with the education they need to compete in the 21st century economy….READ MORE

Remarks by the President on Preparing for College

Source: WH, 3-7-14

Watch the Video

President Obama Speaks on College Opportunity
March 07, 2014 5:36 PM

President Obama Speaks on College Opportunity

Coral Reef Senior High School
Miami, Florida

3:05 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, Miami!  (Applause.)  Hello, Cuda Nation!  (Applause.)  Hello!  It is good to be here at Coral Reef Senior High.  (Applause.)  You guys are just happy because it’s warm down here all the time.  (Laughter.)  I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the rest of the country is cold.  (Laughter.)  Listen, Michelle and I are so grateful for the warm welcome.  It is great to be here.  I want to thank some people who are doing outstanding work.

First of all, your superintendent, Superintendent Carvalho, is doing great work.  We’re really proud of him.  (Applause.)  Your principal, Principal Leal, is doing great work.  (Applause.)  All the Coral Reef teachers and staff, you guys are all doing a great job.  (Applause.)  And you’re doing what is necessary to help young people get ready for college and careers.  So that’s why we’re here.  We are proud of what’s being done at this school.

I want to mention a few other folks who are here who are fighting on behalf of the people of South Florida every day.  We’ve got Congressman Joe Garcia is here.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Congresswoman Frederica Wilson here.  (Applause.)  We’ve got Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez.  Your former Governor Charlie Crist is here.  (Applause.)

And most of all, I want to thank the people that Michelle and I came all the down here to see, and that is the students of Coral Reef.  (Applause.)  We had heard great things about your school.  We had heard great things about the students.  We wanted to come down here and just see what was going on.  (Applause.)  And Michelle and I just had a chance to visit with some of your classmates who are going through some of the scholarship applications, and we had a chance to talk to them and hear what their plans were.  And first of all, Michelle and I looked and we said, these must be actors playing students, because they were all smart and good-looking and organized.  (Laughter.)  And I asked them, what are you going to do?  And they’re — well, I’m going to be applying to business school, and then I’m going to start a company, and then I — when I was your age, I didn’t know what I was doing.  I was lucky if I had gotten out of bed on time.  (Laughter.)  So you guys are ahead of the game.

And we’re here to tell you that you’ve got to keep up the good work, because by working hard every single day, every single night, you are making the best investment there is in your future.  And we want to make sure you’ve got everything, all the tools you need to succeed.  We want every young person to have the kinds of teachers and the kind of classes and the kind of learning experiences that are available to you here at Coral Reef.  (Applause.)  Because that’s the best investment we can make in America’s future.  (Applause.)

Now, keep in mind, Michelle and I, we’re only here today because of the kind of education that we got.  That was our ticket to success.  We grew up a lot like many of you.  I was raised by a single mom; she was a teenager when I was born.  We moved around a lot, we did not have a lot of money, but the one thing she was determined to see was that my sister and I would get the best education possible.

And she would press me.  Sometimes she’d make me wake up, do my lessons before I even went to school.  She was not going to let me off the hook.  And at the time, I wasn’t happy about it, but now I’m glad she pressed me like that.  Because, thanks to my mother and my grandparents, and then great teachers and great counselors who encouraged me, and a country that made it possible for me to afford a higher education, I was able to go to college and law school.

And then when I met Michelle, I saw that — (applause) –there were a couple of things I noticed.  I noticed she was smart.  (Applause.)  I noticed she was funny — she’s funny, she’s funnier than I am.  (Laughter.)  Obviously, I noticed she was cute, yes.  (Applause.)  But one of the things I also realized was, even though we had grown up in very different places, her story was a lot like mine.  Her dad worked at a city water plant.  He didn’t go to college.  He was a blue-collar worker.  Michelle’s mom — my mother-in-law, who I love to death — she was a secretary.  No one in her family had gone to college.  But because she had worked hard and her parents understood the value of education, and she had great teachers and great opportunities, and because the country was willing to invest to make sure that she was able to pay for college, she ended up going to some of the best universities in the country.  (Applause.)

So the point is she and I have been able to achieve things that our parents, our grandparents would have never dreamed of.  And that’s the chance this country should give every young person.  That’s the idea at the heart of America.  (Applause.)

What makes this country great, what makes it special when you look around, and Miami is a great example of it, you’ve got people coming from everywhere, every background, every race, every faith.  But what binds us together is this idea that if you work hard, you can make it — that there’s opportunity for all.  The belief that no matter who you are, no matter where you come from, no matter what your last name is, if you are responsible and put in the effort, you can succeed.  There’s no limit to what you can do.  That’s what America is all about.  (Applause.)

Opportunity is what drew many of your parents and grandparents to America.  And we’ve got to restore that idea for your generation, so that everybody has the same chance Michelle and I did.  That’s why we’re working on what we call an opportunity agenda to create more jobs and train more workers with new skills; to make sure hard work is rewarded with a paycheck that supports a family; to make sure that everybody can get health care when they need it, so that nobody has to get into financial trouble because somebody in the family gets sick.  (Applause.)

And for the students here, a lot of you, you may not think about these issues all the time.  You’re spending a lot of time on homework and sports, and this and that.  But you also oftentimes see your own family struggling and you worry about it.  And one of the single-most important parts of our opportunity agenda is making sure that every young person in America has access to a world-class education — a world-class education.  (Applause.)  So that’s why we are here.

I believe we should start teaching our kids at the earliest ages.  So we’re trying to help more states make high-quality preschool and other early learning programs available to the youngest kids.  (Applause.)  I believe that our K-12 system should be the best in the world.  So we started a competition called Race to the Top, to encourage more states like Florida to raise expectations for students like you, because when we set high expectations, every single one of you can meet them.  (Applause.)  You’re recruiting and preparing the best teachers.  You are turning around low-performing schools.  You’re expanding high-performing ones.  You’re making sure every student is prepared for college or a career.

I believe that every student should have the best technology.  So we launched something we called ConnectED to connect our schools to high-speed Internet.  And I want to congratulate Miami-Dade and your superintendent, because you have achieved your goal of installing wi-fi in every single one of your schools.  (Applause.)

So the good news is, in part because of some of these reforms we’ve initiated, when you add it all up our nation’s high school graduation rate is the highest on record.  The drop-out rate has been dropping, and among Latino students has been cut in half since 2000.  (Applause.)  Miami-Dade’s graduation rate is higher than it’s ever been.  That’s all because of the efforts of so many people, including the parents and students who have been putting in the effort.  It’s because of the teachers and administrators and staff who are doing such a great job.  You should be proud.  We’re making progress — we’re making progress.  (Applause.)

Yes, you guys — by the way, you can all sit down.  I didn’t realize everybody was still standing up.  Sit down.  Take a load off.  You guys can’t sit down though, because you don’t have chairs, although bend your knees so you don’t faint.  (Laughter.)

But here’s the key thing, Coral Reef:  We still have more work to do, all of us — elected officials, principals, teachers, parents, students.  Because, as Michelle says, education is a two-way street.  Folks like us have to work hard to give you the best schools and support that you need.  But then, you’ve got to hold up your end of the bargain by committing to your education.  That means you’ve got to stretch your minds.  You’ve got to push through subjects that aren’t always easy.  And it means continuing your education past high school, whether that’s a two-year or a four-year college degree or getting some professional training.

So I want to talk about an easy step that high school students like you can take to make college a reality.  And it’s something you already know here at Coral Reef, but I’m speaking to all the young people out there who may be watching.  It’s called FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

It is a simple form.  It used to be complicated; we made it simple.  It doesn’t cost anything — that’s why the word “free” is right there in the name.  (Laughter.)  It does not take a long time to fill out.  Once you do, you’re putting yourself in the running for all kinds of financial support for college — scholarships, grants, loans, work-study jobs.

For the past five years, we’ve been working to make college more affordable.  We took on a college loan system that gave billions of dollars of taxpayer money to big banks to manage the student loan system.  We said, we don’t need the banks, let’s give the money directly to students, we can help more students.  (Applause.)  We can help more students that way.  So we expanded the grants that help millions of students from low-income backgrounds pay for college.  We’re offering millions of people the chance to cap their student loan payments at 10 percent of their incomes once they graduate.

Today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before.  That’s a great thing.  (Applause.)  That is a great thing.  But we still need to do more to help rein in the rising cost of tuition.  We need to do more to help Americans who feel trapped by student loan debt — because no striving, hardworking, ambitious, young American should ever be denied a college education just because they can’t afford it — nobody.  (Applause.)

Unfortunately, there are still a lot of young people all across the country who say the cost of college is holding them back.  Some of you may have sat around the kitchen table with your parents wondering about whether you’ll be able to afford it.  So FAFSA is by far the easiest way to answer that question.  And I know the Barracudas know all about FAFSA.  (Applause.)  Last year, you had the second-highest completion rate of any large high school in the state.  (Applause.)  You should be proud of that.  Your teachers and parents should be proud of that.

But last year, almost half of high school graduates in Florida didn’t fill out the FAFSA form.

AUDIENCE:  Booo –

THE PRESIDENT:  That ain’t right.  (Laughter.)  Not only is it not right, but it also ain’t right.  (Laughter.)  And as a result, they lost out on over $100 million in Pell grants.  Think about that — $100 million that could have helped Florida students help pay for college was just left on the table.  That’s just in Florida.  Nationwide, over one million high school students did not fill out the FAFSA form.  That happens every year.

So my challenge today to every high school student in America:  Fill out the form.  Even if you think you might not qualify for financial aid, fill out the form.  You might qualify.

And we’re making it easier than ever.  We put the FAFSA form online.  We made it shorter.  It takes about half an hour to fill out.  And it could change the rest of your life.  We’ve updated it to save your parents a lot of hassle as well.  And today, I’m announcing another improvement.

Today, I’m directing the Department of Education to tell every governor that, starting today, they can, if they choose, confidentially let high school administrators know which students have filled out the FAFSA form and which haven’t.  So that way, if Principal Leal wants to check in with the seniors –

AUDIENCE:  Wooo –

THE PRESIDENT:  I know, everybody is like, wow.  (Laughter.)  I know she’s already on top of stuff, but this way, she could check and seniors who had not filled it out, she could then help them answer the questions and figure out what’s holding her back — what’s holding them back.

Anybody will be able to go online and find out the number of students who have filled out the form at each high school, so we can track it.  So if you want to have a friendly competition with Palmetto High or Miami Killian — (applause) — to see who can get a higher completion rate on your FAFSA, you can do that.  (Applause.)  You achieved the second-highest rate in the state, but I mean if you want to settle for number two, that’s okay –  you might be able to get number one.  (Applause.)  Huh?  I’m just saying you could go for number one.  (Applause.)

So these are things I can do on my own, but I’m here to also tell you I need — I could use some help from folks in Washington.  There are some things I don’t need Congress’s permission for, and in this year of action, whenever I see a way to act to help expand opportunity for young people I’m just going to go ahead and take it.  I’m just going to go ahead and do it.  (Applause.)

So earlier this year, Michelle and I hosted a College Opportunity Summit, where over 150 colleges and universities and nonprofits made commitments to help more low-income students get to college and graduate from college.  (Applause.)  But I’m also willing to work with anybody in Congress — Democrat, Republican, don’t matter — to make sure young people like you have a shot to success.

So a few days ago, I sent my budget to Congress.  And budgets are pretty boring — but the stuff inside the budgets are pretty important.  And my budget focuses on things like preschool for all; like redesigning high schools so students like you can learn real-world skills that businesses want — (applause) — like preparing more young people for careers in some of the fields of the future — in science and technology and engineering and math to discover new planets and invent robots and cure diseases — all the cool stuff that we adults haven’t figured out yet.  (Laughter.)

These are not just the right investments for our schools; they’re the right priorities for our country.  You are our priority.  We’ve got to make sure we have budgets that reflect that you are the most important thing to this country’s success. If you don’t succeed, we don’t succeed.  (Applause.)

We’ve got to make sure all of you are prepared for the new century, and we’ve got to keep growing our economy in other ways:  attracting new high-tech jobs, reforming our immigration system — something Congressman Garcia is fighting for.  (Applause.)   And the rest of Congress needs to stop doing nothing, do right by America’s students, America’s teachers, America’s workers.  Let’s get to work.  Let’s get busy.  (Applause.)  We’ve got work to do. All of us have work to do — teachers, school counselors, principals, superintendents, parents, grandparents.

We all have work to do, because we want to see you succeed, because we’re counting on you, Barracudas.  (Applause.)  And if you keep reaching for success — and I know you will, just based on the small sampling we saw of students here — if you keep working as hard as you can and learning as much as you can, and if you’ve got big ambitions and big dreams, if you don’t let anybody tell you something is out of your reach, if you are convinced that you can do something and apply effort and energy and determination and persistence to that vision, then not only will you be great but this country will be great.  (Applause.)  Our schools will be great.  (Applause.)

I want us to have the best-educated workforce in America.  And I want it to be the most diverse workforce in the world.  That’s what I’m fighting for.  That’s what your superintendent and your principal are fighting for, and I hope that’s what you fight for yourselves.  (Applause.)  Because when I meet the students here at Coral Reef, I am optimistic about the future.  Michelle and I walked out of that classroom, and we said, you know what, we’re going to be in good hands, we’re going to do okay.  (Applause.)  Because these young people are coming, and nobody is going to stop them.

Thank you, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)

END
3:25 P.M EST

University Musings December 23, 2013: Grade inflation again a major issue at Harvard University and in the Ivy League

EDUCATION BUZZ

EDUCATION & UNIVERSITY MUSINGS

EDUCATION HEADLINES

Grade inflation again a major issue at Harvard University and in the Ivy League

By Bonnie K. Goodman

At the end of each semester grades are all that university students are thinking of when they finish their papers and take final exams, but for students at some of the top Ivy League universities have a little less to…READ MORE

History Buzz February 28, 2012: David McCullough, Gordon Wood: Students need more uniform teaching of US Constitution, Historians say at panel “The Teaching of Constitutional History in the 21st Century University”

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Students need more uniform teaching of Constitution, historians say

Source: The Oklahoma U Daily 2-28-12

Instructors need to teach the U.S. Constitution to all students in a stimulating way to create well-educated citizens who are aware of their responsibilities, according to seven panelists in a discussion Tuesday.

photo

Photo by Astrud Reed

Panelist Akhil Reed Amar, Yale Law and Political Science Professor, responds to a question from Diane Rehm, NPR radio program host and event moderator, at Monday’s “The Teaching of Constitutional History in the 21st Century University.”

Students, faculty and visitors crowded into Catlett Music Center to hear noted historians share perspectives on teaching America’s founding in a panel titled, “The Teaching of Constitutional History in the 21st-century University.”

National Public Radio host Diane Rehm moderated the panel, which was part of OU’s inaugural “Teach-In: A Day with Some of the Greatest Teachers in America.”

The U.S. needs leaders and teachers who can make the Constitution relevant to students of all ages and backgrounds, Pulitzer-prize winning historian David McCullough said.

“There is nothing wrong with the younger generation,” he said. “The younger generation is terrific, and any problems they have, any failings they have, and what they know and don’t know is not their fault — it’s our fault.”

Teachers are the most important people in the society, and they should not be blamed for these failings either, McCullough said.

“I think that history, the love of history and the understanding of history begins truly, literally at home,” McCullough said.

In today’s education system students are not trained enough to ask questions, and this is a serious issue, he said.

Some students get all the way to college and have very little knowledge about the Constitution, said Kyle Harper, director of the OU Institute for American Constitutional Heritage.

“One of the exciting things about teaching in college is that you are teaching adults, and you are teaching kids who are becoming adults,” Harper said.

Harper aims to create situations for debate in classrooms to make college students realize that the facts on a page influence their political lives, he said.

In most graduate schools Constitutional history is always there, but undergraduate schools simply neglect it, Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Gordon Wood said. Even in graduate training, issues of race and women have preoccupied graduate training and the writing of history….READ MORE

History Buzz February 19, 2012: New Museums; the National Museum of African American History and Culture, National Center for Civil and Human Rights & International African American Museum to Shine a Spotlight on Civil Rights Era

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

New Museums to Shine a Spotlight on Civil Rights Era

Source: NYT, 2-19-12

Andrew Councill for The New York Times

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington plans to display the lunch counter from an important civil rights protest in Greensboro, N.C. More Photos »

Drive through any state in the Deep South and you will find a monument or a museum dedicated to civil rights.

Multimedia
Haraz Ghanbari/Associated Press

Engraved names on a civil rights memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala. Such monuments are common in southern states. More Photos »

Mike Segar/Reuters

The Lorraine Motel in Memphis, where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum. More Photos »

Raymond McCrea Jones for The New York Times

An artist’s initial rendering of the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, scheduled to break ground this summer and open in 2014. More Photos »

A visitor can peer into the motel room in Memphis where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was staying when he was shot or stand near the lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., where four young men began a sit-in that helped end segregation.

Other institutions are less dramatic, like the Tubman African American Museum in Macon, Ga., where Jim Crow-era toilet fixtures are on display alongside folk art.

But now, a second generation of bigger, bolder museums is about to emerge.

Atlanta; Jackson, Miss.; and Charleston, S.C., all have projects in the works. Coupled with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, which breaks ground in Washington this week, they represent nearly $750 million worth of plans.

Collectively, they also signal an emerging era of scholarship and interest in the history of both civil rights and African-Americans that is to a younger generation what other major historical events were to their grandparents. “We’re at that stage where the civil rights movement is the new World War II,” said Doug Shipman, the chief executive officer for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, a $100 million project that is to break ground in Atlanta this summer and open in 2014.

“It’s a move to the next phase of telling this story,” he said.

The collection at the museum, which is to be set on two and half acres of prime downtown real estate donated by Coca-Cola, will include 10,000 documents and artifacts from Dr. King and a series of paintings based on the life of Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, by the artist Benny Andrews, who died in 2006….READ MORE

History Buzz November 21, 2011: David Cannadine: Leave UK history curriculum alone but teach it for longer, says U.S. historian

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

HISTORY EDUCATION NEWS

Towards the end of a typically barnstorming performance at the Hay Festival in May last year, during which Niall Ferguson had rubbished the way history was taught in this country, the spotlight was turned towards the audience to reveal that the new education secretary, Michael Gove, had snuck into the event and was sitting somewhere near the back. And after a few not entirely convincing exchanges of surprise along the lines of “Fancy seeing you here!”, “You’re marvellous”, “No, you’re marvellous”, Gove offered Ferguson a job on the spot to help reform the history curriculum….

Wisely, perhaps, Gove chose to consult not just Ferguson. Instead, using the contacts book that mysteriously opens up for new ministers, he also invited several other well-known historians, including Simon Schama and Richard Evans, to contribute their suggestions for the wholesale reform of history teaching. Somewhere not far into the process, he also asked David Cannadine, Dodge Professor of History at Princeton – and, with Ferguson and Schama, yet another of the UK’s top academic exports to the US – for his thoughts. Eighteen months down the line, Gove might rather be wishing he hadn’t.

Like Gove and Ferguson, Cannadine has also taken a profound interest in how history is taught in state schools; unlike them, he didn’t think that relying on hearsay and ideology was the best way to decide public policy. “There had been a great many theories about how history had been taught over time,” Cannadine says, “but no one had done any detailed research to provide the evidence to back them up.” So about two and a half years ago Cannadine, along with two research fellows, Jenny Keating and Nicola Sheldon, funded by the Linbury Trust and the Institute of Historical Research, set out to find the empirical data, and this week their findings are published in The Right Kind of History….READ MORE

History Buzz November 17, 2011: Steven Volk: Oberlin College history professor named one of country’s top professors

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Steven Volk: Oberlin College history professor named one of country’s top professors

Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer, 11-17-11

volk.jpg
View full size Tanya Rosen-Jones

Steven Volk, a history professor at Oberlin College, is one of the U.S. Professors of the Year.

Steven Volk, a history professor and chair of the Latin American Studies committee at Oberlin College, was honored Thursday as a U.S. Professor of the Year.

The award, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and administered by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, honors outstanding teaching and commitment to undergraduate students.

Obviously, I’m very thrilled and blessed . . . . I am incredibly thankful,” said Volk, who has been teaching at Oberlin for 26 years.

Judges called Volk an “extraordinarily dedicated undergraduate teacher, who is skilled in engaging students with history — even the ‘back-row boys.’”

Volk said that to maximize discussion time in class, he posts video lectures on the web so that students can watch them ahead of time.

“Every class is a discussion, because that is the way that students can construct their own comprehension and knowledge,” he said. “History is not all about learning dates and the names of places. In fact, students need to participate actively to become a historian.”

Volk said that becoming a good teacher is a process.

“In some ways I obviously taught for many years, but in other ways I didn’t really begin to teach until I had a greater understanding of what teaching and learning was all about,” he said. “I began to understand that teaching is not this transfer of content from my head to somebody else’s, but it’s the creation of an environment that students can learn in.”

Volk, who founded the Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence at Oberlin College to help faculty develop their teaching skills, said he and his colleagues must act as facilitators to help students learn.

Much of Volk’s academic focus has been in Chile, where he worked on his dissertation in the early 1970s and remained involved for years to help restore democracy there.

He was honored as the top professor at the nation’s baccalaureate colleges. Also recognized Thursday were three other outstanding professors – representing community colleges, doctoral and research universities, and master’s universities….READ MORE

History News September 30, 2011: Our Virginia: Past and Present: Faulty Virginia History Textbook Restored by State to Classrooms

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

After criticism in regard to factual errors removed it from classrooms last school year, a fourth-grade Virginia history textbook gained reapproval by the State Board of Education on Sept. 22.

Factual errors were discovered in “Our Virginia: Past and Present” by a College of William & Mary history professor whose child brought the book home from school. In March, the Board of Education voted to remove its approval of the book and another book published by Five Pond Press — “Our America to 1865.”

At that time, the board agreed to reconsider approval of the books if the publisher corrected the errors. In June, Five Pond Press submitted a second edition of both books with reviews. Initial review began in July, followed by a 30-day public comment period, during which time eight comments were submitted. Most of the feedback focused on credibility of the textbooks because of the initial errors, as well as remaining errors found in the book, according to state education staff.

The Board of Education voted 8-1 on Sept. 22 to reapprove the textbooks for classroom use.

“Getting these books right is something that requires enormous time and Five Ponds Press has had the benefit over this year of having that extra public scrutiny looking at their publications, looking at their documents, helping them make them better,” said Board of Education member K. Rob Krupicka of Alexandria. “They need to — and every other publisher needs to — learn from these last 12 months and recognize how critical it is that they have third-party review, aggressive third-party review and multiple third-party reviews of their textbook… you can have experts look at things and you can still find problems.”

Complaints about the Five Pond Press textbooks caused the Board of Education to review and make changes to its textbook approval process.

Final copies of the two textbooks were not available to the board during its regular meeting Sept. 22, but state education staff members said they would review the final text to make sure errors were corrected.

“West Virginia will not show up on the map until after the Civil War, I trust?” asked the Board’s Vice President David M. Foster of Arlington.

Board member Winsome E. Spears of Stephenson was the lone vote against reapproving the books. During last week’s meeting, she questioned why the board was not being asked to review and approve supplementary material for these textbooks produced by Five Ponds Press.

Staff said the board does not review this material, which is not a required additional purchase by school systems. Several board members suggested a future discussion on whether it should approve supplementary material as classroom materials become more technology based.

Early complaints about “Our Virginia: Past and Present” focused on the textbook’s claim that thousands of blacks fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, “including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.”

Historian Ronald Heinemann, a professor teaching at Hampden-Sydney College, was asked by the Fairfax County school system to survey the book for errors.

“There were almost too many errors to list,” he said at the time, adding many key dates in the textbook were wrong.

“They have America going into World War I in 1916, instead of 1917,” he said. The book also lists President Ulysses S. Grant taking office in 1870, when the 18th president took office in 1869.

“I came up with 50 [errors],” said Heinemann, adding a colleague of his found more than twice that amount, but included errors that could be interpreted wrong.

Fairfax County Public Schools purchased copies of the Virginia history book, but not the American history textbook.

“Since we were made aware of the errors last year, schools were instructed to use a corrected online version of the book,” said Paul Regnier, Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman.

History Buzz September 28, 2011: Cornell History Dept. Creates Minor to Engage Students

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

UNIVERSITY NEWS

Source: Cornell Daily Sun, 9-28-11

Following a noticeable decline in the number of students enrolled in history courses, the University’s Department of History has taken measures to boost its enrollment and attract students from a variety of disciplines.

This fall, the department added a history minor — one of 38 offered in the College of Arts and Sciences — and has recently added several new 1000- and 2000-level courses intended to appeal specifically to freshman and sophomores.

Though administrators said enrollment data was unavailable, many said they noticed a decline in the number of students enrolled in history classes.

The department has seen “its enrollment decline somewhat in the past few years,” said Barry Strauss ’74, chair of the history department.

Jon Parmenter, Director of Undergraduate Students for the history department, said the department is “certainly concerned about enrollments.”

According to Strauss and Parmenter, the new history minor — which can be fulfilled by taking five courses, including one seminar class — is aimed at increasing enrollment by targeting students who may be reluctant to take history classes without getting credit toward a degree.

“We’ve noticed a lot of undergraduates are interested in having as diverse an experience as possible to document on their diploma,” Parmenter said. “It seems as if minors are increasingly important in showing that students have a broad array of interests.”

Strauss added that the College of Arts and Sciences also encouraged all department chairs to consider adding minors to their departments as a way to reduce the pressure on undergraduates both inside and outside of the college.

“We wanted to make it possible for all undergraduates to explore this subject without wearing themselves out by trying to pursue a double major,” Strauss said. “It’s a different way of reaching out to students who are still interested in history.”…READ MORE

History Buzz September 27, 2011: Julian Bond: Students’ Knowledge of Civil Rights History Has Deteriorated, Study Finds

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

HISTORY EDUCATION

Source: NYT 9-27-11

When Julian Bond, the former Georgia lawmaker and civil rights activist, turned to teaching two decades ago, he often quizzed his college students to gauge their awareness of the civil rights movement. He did not want to underestimate their grasp of the topic or talk down to them, he said.

“My fears were misplaced,” Mr. Bond said. No student had heard of George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama, he said. One student guessed that Mr. Wallace might have been a CBS newsman.

That ignorance by American students of the basic history of the civil rights movement has not changed — in fact, it has worsened, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, on whose board Mr. Bond sits. The report says that states’ academic standards for public schools are one major cause of the problem.

“Across the country, state educational standards virtually ignore our civil rights history,” concludes the report, which is to be released on Wednesday….

Many states have turned Dr. King’s life into a fable, said Mr. Bond, who now teaches at American University and the University of Virginia. He said his students knew that “there used to be segregation until Martin Luther King came along, that he marched and protested, that he was killed, and that then everything was all right.”… READ MORE

Lisa Norling: History classes might be taking a back seat in Minnesota

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Do Minnesota students know their U.S. history?

Despite a recent report showing a limited grasp of U.S. history by the nation’s students, Minnesota educators generally give fair marks to the students here. Young people often have a pretty good sense of dates, places, names and basic trends, the educators say. But the teachers say that improvement is needed, and worry that the emphasis on math, reading and the sciences may detract from learning about history, which they say is crucial to becoming solid citizens with a sense of national identity.

“I think you’re really trying to address one of the fundamentals of the human experience: Who are we, what have we done, and where are we going?” said Tim Hoogland, director of education outreach programs for the Minnesota Historical Society.

Still, Minnesota teachers aren’t doing the kind of hand-wringing that followed last month’s release of U.S. history test results by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Some educators around the nation said they were alarmed by the results of the 2010 test, which showed only 20 percent of fourth-graders, 17 percent of eighth-graders, and 12 percent of 12th-graders were proficient or better in the subject. Results were not broken out state-by-state in the NAEP report, so Minnesotans’ standing wasn’t immediately available….

“I find the students who … have graduated from American high schools have a basic understanding of the broad periods and watershed events of American history,” said Lisa Norling, an associate professor of history at the University of Minnesota….READ MORE

David McCullough: Textbooks “so politically correct as to be comic”

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: WSJ, 6-18-11

‘We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” David McCullough tells me on a recent afternoon in a quiet meeting room at the Boston Public Library. Having lectured at more than 100 colleges and universities over the past 25 years, he says, “I know how much these young people—even at the most esteemed institutions of higher learning—don’t know.” Slowly, he shakes his head in dismay. “It’s shocking.”

He’s right. This week, the Department of Education released the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which found that only 12% of high-school seniors have a firm grasp of our nation’s history. And consider: Just 2% of those students understand the significance of Brown v. Board of Education….

The 77-year-old author has been doing his part—he’s written nine books over the last four decades, including his most recent, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,” a story of young Americans who studied in a culturally dominant France in the 19th century to perfect their talents. He’s won two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

“History is a source of strength,” he says. “It sets higher standards for all of us.” But helping to ensure that the next generation measures up, he says, will be a daunting task….READ MORE

New Report: U.S. History Majors Highest Earners in Humanities

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

A new report, from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, on median salaries for undergraduate majors finds that history majors go on to earn fairly respectable salaries. Looking at the median salary for everyone aged 18 to 64 years old with an undergraduate degree in any one of 171 different fields, the report finds that history majors do the best in the humanities, and better than students in a majority of the other fields.

The report separates majors in U.S. history from the rest, and finds it makes a big difference. Students who majored in U.S. history earned $57,000, as compared to $50,000 for other majors in history. The average salary for U.S. history majors was 18.7 percent higher than the average for all the humanities. The average salary for other history majors was the second highest, and on a level only with art history and criticism. U.S. history is also quite high relative to most of the other fields in the survey (especially in fields outside of the scientific, engineering, and business fields).

The report also highlights a few other interesting pieces of information—a significant portion of the history majors (43 percent) went on to earn graduate degrees in history or another field. And a substantial number of history students went into business—one in five said they were in management positions, for instance, and over 15 percent in sales (see figure below).

history majors occupations

For further analysis of the report see this article from The Chronicle, along with their interactive graphic. Inside Higher Ed also weighs in on the data, noting the surprising finding that “women and minorities clustered in low-paying fields with few opportunities for advancement.”

Linda Salvucci: History is being crowded out of the daily school schedules in many states across the nation; only 12 minutes a week?

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

Source: CNN, 6-17-11

This past week, we learned that American students are less proficient in the history of the United States than in any other subject. The New York Times reported that the National Assessment of Educational Progress released the results of a nationwide exam given to thousands of students. According to the results, most fourth graders couldn’t explain why Abraham Lincoln was important. Eighth graders couldn’t identify why American forces had an advantage over the British during the Revolution…READ MORE

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