Ken Germanson: America’s union story: Blood, struggle and bargaining for good and bad

Source: CNN, 3-4-11

union-story

By Ashley Fantz
CNN

Eighty-one-year-old labor historian Ken Germanson watches the news from home in Milwaukee every night, mystified.

“All those people raising their signs, protesting,” he said. “Well, geez, what did our governor think was going to happen?”

Germanson ran the Wisconsin Labor History Society for nearly two decades, an organization that teaches students about the state’s union heritage.

This year, students will learn 2011 is the 100th anniversary of when Wisconsin became the first state to pass a law guaranteeing workers’ compensation. They’ll probably be taught that the state was a major fighter in the early 19th century for the radical idea of an eight-hour workday. It is the law, after all, in the land of cheese and Super Bowl champs, that school curriculums include Wisconsin’s organized labor history.

It’s also possible that some of those students and teachers are today among the thousands of demonstrators who have crowded the state Capitol in Madison for weeks. They are beating drums, holding hands, doing defiant yoga, all chanting, “Kill the bill!”

The bill, backed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker and many GOP lawmakers, would mostly end public unions’ rights to bargain collectively. The governor and his supporters say the legislation would help ease the state’s projected $3.6 billion budget deficit by, in part, increasing state worker contributions for pension and health benefits.

Workers view the bill as a way to quash their rights to negotiate for better work conditions and decent wages. Fourteen Democratic lawmakers have left the state in protest, refusing to vote on the measure, a move that got them slapped with $100 fines for every day they are gone.

Similar political and union battles are boiling in Indiana and Ohio, where bills would end or substantially weaken public unions…READ MORE

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Diane Ravitch: Kids don’t come to school for test prep

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3-4-11

Education historian Diane Ravitch visited Jon Stewart last night to discuss her book, ““The Death and Life of the Great American School System.”

Among her comments: “Schools have turned into testing factories. Less time for the arts. Less time for science. Less time for history, physical education, civics — all the things that make school interesting. “

“Kids have to have a reason to come to school. I never met a child who said ‘I can’t wait to get to school for test prep.’”

She held out Finland – with 100 percent teacher unions and no standardized testing – as a model for the United States. Finland focuses on teacher prep and high quality teachers, she said, and has no school privatization movement, no charter schools. Ravitch said America actually outperforms Finland in low poverty schools.

Where America is failing, she said, is in schools with high poverty and racial isolation. While public policy debate wants to pretend that poverty doesn’t matter in schools, Ravitch said, “If you are homeless and hungry, it does matter.”

Rhodes College Acquires Shelby Foote’s Personal Papers and Library

Source: Monsters & Critics, 3-4-11

Shelby Foote’s ties to Rhodes College were strong.  They are evident in the 1982 honorary degree that he received from Rhodes, the notes of the lectures he gave at the college in 1988 and the 1991 Rhodes Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society pendant that hung on the bulletin board above his desk.      Shelby Foote’s ties to Rhodes College were strong. They are evident in the 1982 honorary degree that he received from Rhodes, the notes of the lectures he gave at the college in 1988 and the 1991 Rhodes Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society pendant that hung on the bulletin board above his desk. 

Rhodes College President William E. Troutt announced today that the college has acquired the 2,350-volume book collection, personal papers and diaries, handwritten book drafts and maps, and memorabilia of famed novelist and Civil War historian Shelby Dade Foote Jr. (1916-2005).

According to the official release from the University, many of the books from Shelby Foote’s personal library are rare, including signed first edition novels by William Faulkner, Eudora Welty and Walker Percy. Some of these items had been on loan to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After the acquisition, the books were returned and are now part of the Shelby Foote Collection at Rhodes College.

Foote’s hand-drawn Civil War map 

Foote’s hand-drawn Civil War map

Shelby Foote’s ties to Rhodes College were strong.  They are evident in the 1982 honorary degree that he received from Rhodes, the notes of the lectures he gave at the college in 1988 and the 1991 Rhodes Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society pendant that hung on the bulletin board above his desk.

Rhodes was approached about the opportunity to acquire the collection and, under the leadership of President William Troutt, moved quickly to develop a proposal that met the needs of Huger Foote, maintained the integrity of the entire collection and enhanced the academic resources at Rhodes. The college took ownership of the collection in November 2010, thus permanently joining Foote’s legacy to Rhodes.

A boon for historians

The papers of Shelby Foote, including his correspondence with his fellow writers, his drafts and notes for both his published and unpublished literary works, and his personal memo books and calendars will be of great use to potential Foote biographers and scholars of American literature.

Likewise, the large collection of Foote family letters—many from the nineteenth century—will be of tremendous value to historians of the American South.  And the research notes, manuscripts and hand-drawn maps associated with The Civil War will be invaluable to historians attempting to examine the writing of this renowned work.

“How delighted and grateful I am that my father’s collection, which is so dear to my heart, will be housed here in the Barret Library at Rhodes. When setting out to find a permanent home for the collection, I knew one thing clearly that I would be guided by what I believed would be my father’s wishes,” said Huger Foote, son of Shelby Foote.

Adds Foote, “My father’s collection is large and full of treasures. When studying it, one discovers the vast and varied world of my father’s creative and intellectual life. It was important to me that the entire collection be kept intact and preserved in its full integrity to inspire and, I think, amaze this and future generation of scholars. Rhodes shared this vision. . . . There’s an old Irish Proverb which says ‘May the Roads Rise to Meet You,’ and here they have done exactly that.”

He went on to say “I’ve always known that parting one day with my father’s collection, under any circumstances, would be difficult, but now it gives me enormous pleasure and great peace of mind to announce that the collection will be here at Rhodes where I can remain close to it and yet share it with the world. I think we all feel equally blessed to have it here. In short, Rhodes College is the perfect home for my father’s collection. Thank you, Rhodes, and thank you Memphis.”…READ MORE

Founded in 1848, Rhodes is a private, co-educational college of liberal arts and sciences. For more information, please visit www.rhodes.edu.

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