Reading 1 Colonial Political Life

nash_amer_people_7eHello. It’s our first reading of the school year! I’m sure many of you are interested, but not entirely sure about what you’ve got yourself into. I can tell you honestly that this class can be one of the greatest experiences you’ll have in high school, but it can also be an enormous amount of work. Most likely it will be differing degrees of each of those two statements. So, where do we begin?

I am going to post thoughts, questions and tasks here for each night’s reading assignment. Sometimes I will have websites for you to view and other times I will include podcasts for you to listen to and review. I’ll also link to interesting images, documents and other material on the online textbook site. Still on other occasions, I will have questions here for you to answer. We’ll build on these online discussions in class.

STRUCTURING COLONIAL GOVERNMENTS (146)  Today, we begin with the development of political systems in the colonies. Let’s take a look at some charged statements in the reading. In the beginning of your reading, the text states that “Government existed to protect life, liberty and property.” It’s an interesting theory concerning political science, but not one that exists entirely independent of the time period in which it existed. Which is the more important of the three? Which applied more to the colonies?

The text also goes on to describe how the British blended three forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. Each represented hopes and dangers. To what extent did the colonies reflect each of these types of government?

On the top of page 147, there is a table describing the ‘colonial foundations of the American political system’.  As you read through the list of political documents, do you wonder if there was a pattern to these ideas?  Did we become more democratic, or was that something that had to be forced on a society, rather than evolve on its own?

THE CROWD IN ACTION (147)  Well, this is an interesting way of describing colonial government in action.  Why do you think that the authors chose to include this story?  Do you think that they were trying to soften you up for the next chapter on the revolution by proving that this sentiment was nothing new?  It’s also interesting to notice the relationship here between political and military power.  “The militia refused to respond”, the book states.  I wonder why.  Were they revolutionaries, or did they just choose to not take sides?  Listen to the argument too… Sam Adams is defiant against British authority and ‘arbitrary power’ claiming that Bostonians had ‘natural rights’.  What about the natural rights of slaves?  Why was he silent on this topic, but not his own cause?  Think about it.

THE GROWING POWER OF ASSEMBLIES (148) Your text states that ‘elected assemblies gradually transformed themselves into governing bodies reflecting the interests of the electorate’.  Hm.  If this is true, then perhaps a political system is not something that is stagnant.  Perhaps it is something that responds to external and internal forces – and grows over time.  What does that mean for the colonies themselves?  What are the strongest influences on their growth and change?  Taxes?  Wars?  Rebellions?  Profit?  Empire?  It’s something to consider.

LOCAL POLITICS (149) One of the most important points that I noted in this section (and I’m sure you did as well) is that there is a connection between class issues (economic division) and political influence.  Notice that it is the lower classes that are demanding more accountability from their government?  Do you think this is still the same today, or does the upper class have more political influence?  Also notice the regional differences here in the colonies between the political coalitions and deal-making that goes on at the local level between town meetings and county courts and legislatures.  Can you see elements of the Civil War societies taking shape here in the colonies?

THE SPREAD OF WHIG IDEOLOGY (149)  What’s a ‘whig’?  Well, it’s a person who supports republican government over the power of the monarchy and aristocracy.  It’s hard to imagine now, but this was a completely new phenomenon.  Notice what the text states as the ‘best defense against concentrated power’?  These are the same elements of the revolution and they are very radical for the 1700’s.  The text also goes on to describe the power of the press.  But this can be confusing.  It’s not that the press merely provided people with information.  It provided a diversity of information.  Think of the blogosphere today.  You also meet Zenger.  He’s in most US History texts because his is the first case concerning the limits of the press to speak freely.  It’s also a moment in history that is more about planting seeds than seeing results.  Not much changes then, but in a couple of decades, America would explore – and the press would be behind almost all of it.

Under Construction

constructionAs the school year begins, there will be more and more changes to the site you are viewing.  I plan on adding more to the Podcast page, providing a source of great historical reviews as well as interesting news stories.  I also plan on updating and adding information to the Wiki page.  In the last few years, I have moved between and  I am going to try to resolve the contest this year between these two competing wiki hosting sites.  I also plan on adding more content and interactivity to the Dr. Meade page, as my wife creates interesting lessons and website links for her Biology students.  Finally, there will be a comprehensive list of PDF documents added to Files page.  Students and other visitors will be able to view the documents in an image library, selecting the ones that best fit their specific needs and interests.

I apologize for the work being done on the page in the interim.  Thanks for being patient.

President Obama’s Speech to Students 9.8.09

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK.  Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Godel

One book leads to another.  That’s the way it goes.  Since I was a child, I allowed myself no gaps between the end of one book and the beginning of another.  In many cases, there would be direct causal connections to the choices.  Sometimes there would be jumps and starts, but overall, themes would build and become supported by a continuum of developed and borrowed ideas.

This is the case with Godel.  As stated below, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Anathem, by Neal Stephenson.  I was also deeply impressed with the process that Stephenson constructed and consolidated philosophical parallels between our world and his (in his story).  This was done, in part, because of the work in mathematics and logic by Kurt Godel.  Of course, intent and outcome are rarely coincidental.   As a result, I was attending a very fun and beautiful wedding in New Jersey and one of our friends sitting at the table took out a book and proclaimed that it was one of her favorites and that she had just had it returned to her from a friend.  She wanted to pass it around the table, and since we had just returned from the buffet line and were beginning to eat, it increased the potential for deep conversation at such a festive event.  Most people politely looked at the book (pictured above) and nodded silent approval while moving it passively around the table.  When it got to me, I exclaimed, “GODEL!”, which drew the attention of everyone at our table and the near vicinity.  Being somewhat introverted but also somewhat intellectually isolated with my friends, I pounced on the opportunity to bring a philosophical conversation to the surface.   As a result of my display, I came away from the wedding with a pleasant night of smiles and memories, and a book on Godel.

Trying to understand Godel is another thing entirely.  I needed to build a language in order to understand the concepts while also trying to construct a context to fit that language in.  This is very difficult, since the theories on which Godel’s logic is based call into question how we are able to know that anything is true at all.  Wittgenstein and other colleagues (Einstein for one) also shaped Godel’s thoughts.  Currently, I am still in the process of reading the book, deconstructing my philosophical neural-networks, and replacing them with something that adds ‘incompleteness’ to the logic of existence.  Wish me luck.

Jamming Cell Phones in the Classroom

Cell phones.  As a tech-geek teacher, I strongly believe that using cell phones as teaching devices is a perfectly acceptable use of technology in the classroom.  But, the reality is that cell phones have become more of a distraction in the classroom under the existing school policy than something that could benefit teachers.  This is the catch-22.  Because the school doesn’t allow cell phone use at all, as a teacher I have to enforce the school rules.  If I don’t, I become an exception to the policy and ensure the enmity of my colleagues.  If there was an acceptable use policy, then the teachers individually could decide whether they should be allowed or not.  Jess and I have discussed all kinds of options.  She is very specific concerning the rules in the class and would enforce strict penalties consistently.  I would use the ‘soft power’ approach and would politely ask students who were using the phones to put them away.  Generally, this would only affect the students who are addicted.  Most would not bother.  Of course, my students were generally juniors and seniors and Jess’s were freshman.  Different ages creates different opportunities in classroom management.

Getting back to the subject, Jess’s supervisor last year bought and tested a cell phone jammer at the end of the school year.  It worked really well and had a radius of about 30 feet.  So now the question is whether this is legal or not.  The FCC says no.  Under the Communications Act of 1934, it is apparently illegal to block transmissions.  Some schools have found this out the hard way.  Others have been a little more creative in blocking signals, from surrounding the class walls and ceilings in conductive material (like a Farraday cage) to using nanotechnology to jam the signals.

Freeing Mynamar

Today, Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to 18 months of home imprisonment.  She is the leader of a non-violent, democracy movement in one of the most brutal dictatorships still left on the planet in Mynamar (formerly Burma).  You can read about the her personal history here and visit her webpage here for information, news, video and more, but what I wanted to draw attention to today is a news story from the BBC concerning what individuals and nations can do to influence the military dictatorship to change its policies.  The article is titled, “How Do You Apply Pressure on Burma?” and it refers to the UK’s proposal for an UN arms embargo on the nation, depriving it of what it needs most: weapons and ammunition.  This article calls on individuals to wonder, in this globalized and interconnected world, what can be done to influence the internal politics of one nation from the intervention of citizens from another.  What is the impact of social justice activism on nations that do not permit or require international cooperation and/or compliance?  The Council on Foreign Relations issued a report called, “Burma: Time for Change” and outlined actions for nations to take, but what about individuals?  Commentators have suggested that the military junta is sensitive to media pressure.  Consider the impact of social networking on Iran’s recent election and uprising.  Human Rights Watch has a report on the sham trial as well.

Change Leadership & Managing Fundamentals (Wagner & Mullin)

wagner-mullinXSmallIn a phone conversation with a principal in NJ, the book Change Leadership: A Practical Guide to Transforming Our Schools by Tony Wagner was recommended strongly to me.  I picked it up an was immediately impressed once I began reading about the intentions and methods used to strategically build capacity and prevent institutional inertia.  It became, literally, a guidebook, for our school’s transformation efforts when I was nominated to chair the school’s Restructuring Committee.

Here’s a link to one of his most commonly used PowerPoints describing ‘Reinventing America’s Schools’:

In addition to Tony Wagner’s work, I also learned through a colleague on the Restructuring Committee that the director of the Office of High School Renewal, Kathleen Mullin, was a driving force for change in the Boston Public School system.  She has since moved from that post to head efforts at Northeastern University in school transformation.

Here are two links to some of her PowerPoint lectures, ‘Managing Fundamental Change in High School Reform’ and ‘Size Does Matter and Small is Beautiful: Personalizing the Learning Environment’: and

English Learners in Boston Public Schools

ell-boardThese reports are related to the research behind our work on designing a Leadership Academy as a part of the DESE’s Readiness Advantage Schools project.  These reports were recommended by members of our team to facilitate discussion in the design phase of our work in the summer of 2009.

Please add comments below.  All members of our team are encouraged to contribute.  For students who are using my site in the 2009-2010 school year, please add your feedback and questions as well.  You are the reason why we are ‘thinking outside of the box’ to better help you reach your potential in the 21st century.

English Learners in Boston Public Schools: Enrollment, Engagement and Academic Outcomes (2003-2006)

[From the Preface] The main objective of this report is to inform local and state policy makers, educators and advocates, as well as the families andthe communities of the children affected by English learning policies.  This report is based on a study of the academic experience of Boston English Learners (ELs) after 2002, when the Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) was replaced with Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) in response to the passing of Question 2. ELs represent about 14.5% of the student population in the Boston school district, the largest and more diverse school district in Massachusetts. The research team documented the impact of the policy change on the academic experience of ELs using existing local statistics, public records and staff accounts obtained through interviews. Salient results for both students and their teachers are disheartening and highlight the urgency for rigorous monitoring of student outcomes, teacher competencies and transparency of results. This report also calls for local policy makers to make a solid commitment to teacher training that focuses on evidence based instructional practices and positive outcomes.   This report is released in the wake of statistics showing that English Learners are the fastest-growing segment of the K-12 student population in the United States, and that their educational outcomes are the biggest failure of the No Child Left Behind policies. Results from this study resemble those from other schools districts in California. Addressing the needs of English Learners is a critical element of improving schools’ capacity to eliminate achievement disparities. This is clearly acknowledged in the Obama-Biden Education Agenda with the commitment to increase accountability of school for the educational success of students in transitional bilingual education and other supportive structures for students with limited proficiency in English.


Another example to examine can be examined in the journal, Equity and Excellence in Education.  The article is titled, Best Practices for English Language Learners: Five Years after the Question 2 Mandate.  It offers specific advice on training teachers and transitioning students.   It spotlights schools in Brockton, Malden and Framingham.

We also looked at a study by the Barr Foundation and UMASS Boston on Latino student performance here:

It’s our intent in the new academy to meet the specific needs of all of our students.  This requires equity on many levels.  Since it is a small learning community, this is a serious concern for us.  We hope to make specific recommendations from this report and apply them to our unique circumstances.

NBEA Response to Readiness Schools

newsXSmallThis is a copy of an email I received on Thursday, August 6th, 2009.  There is some very strong language in here, but also sides to the story that I don’t personally know.  If anyone can help fill in some blanks, that would be appreciated.  What is specifically in the bill?  What was the Sec’s response?  What alternatives from the MTA and NEA were offered?  How does this position affect our Readiness Advantage School proposal?  Let’s gather information, think about our response and constructively discuss it here and at our next meeting.  Thoughts?

Dear Colleague,

The Readiness Schools legislation developed by Massachusetts Secretary of Education Paul Reville and filed on July 17th with the Legislature should set off alarm bells throughout MTA and the larger labor movement. This bill, if passed in its current form, would strip our members of collective bargaining rights in Readiness Schools.

In establishing so-called Readiness Acceleration Schools, the Commissioner of Education would have the right to unilaterally “limit, suspend or change” all or part of our collective bargaining agreements. In other types of Readiness Schools, it is not clear from the legislation who would have the authority to change the terms of a contract, but it is clear that the collective bargaining process as we have known it would not apply.

This is a direct assault on our union and other local associations. It ignores the critical contributions our members and our union have made for over 160 years in helping to make Massachusetts schools among the best in the world. It treats us as the problem — which is a demonstrably false premise – rather than part of the solution. And it offers a so-called solution in the form of diminished bargaining rights, without any evidence that collective bargaining is an obstacle to the substantive school reform agenda. At the same time, it sets up a process doomed to fail because it does not provide teachers – the people who spend the most time with students and are in a position to know what is needed to improve results – a real voice in the process.

Collective bargaining is how we use our voice effectively, and it’s how we build consensus. It’s not always perfect, but it has worked for decades as a mechanism for resolving important issues at the local level. Secretary Reveille’s premise — that bargaining must be swept aside and replaced by another process in which educators are not full partners – ignores the fact that the best-performing schools in the state operate under collective bargaining agreements

We are committed to the need for new approaches to school reform to address the problems of chronically underperforming schools. Through lengthy and difficult discussions with Secretary Reville and his staff, the MTA offered alternatives that would ensure our members’ voices would be heard, but which would have made dramatic and unprecedented changes to collective bargaining as we have known it in order to foster rapid improvements. Secretary Reville gave those innovations the back of his hand.

In recent days, as the draft legislation was being prepared for filing, the MTA worked almost around the clock to seek modifications that would preserve our collective bargaining rights. the MTA enlisted the aid of top leaders at NEA and at the U.S. Department of Education, all of whom recognize that effective innovation and school reform can only be accomplished with us, it cannot be done to us. As U.S. Secretary of Arne Duncan said earlier this month in a speech to the NEA Representative Assembly, real reform can only happen when there are good relations between labor and management and when collective bargaining rights are respected. Almost everywhere he goes, Secretary Duncan points out that all the aggressive reforms he undertook as the head of the Chicago school system were accomplished within the existing collective bargaining agreements. Secretary Reville, by contrast, wants to insist on dictatorial authority rather than a cooperative approach.

Now that the bill has been filed, we have our work cut out for us. We must mobilize our members and defend our rights, or this could prove to be the beginning of the end of collective bargaining in our state. We will not rest until we have preserved our bargaining rights, and we are confident that you and your members will fight shoulder to shoulder with us for this fundamental principle. And, while securing our bargaining rights, we will work with equal determination to win effective school reform legislation that addresses the real problems at the root of chronically underperforming schools.

We’re serious about school reform and recognize that there are things in the bill worth fighting for. It begins to recognize poverty as a fundamental issue at the base of many problems facing our schools. It directs special attention where we can all agree it’s needed: toward the chronically underperforming schools. And it sets us on a course to receive significant federal funding to turn around schools and help our students. We support those aspects of the bill and will fight to keep them.

But there is nothing about these laudable goals that requires Secretary Reville to take an axe to our collective bargaining rights. So we must make sure collective bargaining is re-inserted into the process. Secretary Reville must learn, as Secretary Duncan already knows, that educators and their unions have a positive – and essential – role to play in school reform and innovation.

You can help our cause by contacting your legislators and voicing your opposition to this bill and by spreading the word to your colleagues about the enormous challenge we face and enlist them in the battle to preserve their voice in the workplace.


Here are some links (articles) I was able to find on this issue:

1.  MTA Calls for Collaborative Model for Readiness Schools:

2.  Your Collective Bargaining Rights Are Threatened, Act Now!

3.  Gov. Patrick’s Readiness School Plan is Better than His Charter School Plan, But Still Problematic

4.  Education Reform Legislation: Readiness Schools Package:

5.  Legislation on Readiness Schools and Charter Schools:

RAFT Assignments


Week 1 – First Settlements

  1. You are an Aztec warrior.  Write a prayer song to your gods concerning the Spanish invasion.
  2. You are a Spanish Conquistador.  Confess your role in an Incan slaughter to a Spanish priest.
  3. You are English newspaper editor.  Write an obituary for your readers about Pocahontas after her death in England.
  4. You are a Puritan Separatist.  Create a pamphlet for new converts attacking the Church of England.
  5. You are guilty of witchcraft in Salem.  Compose your last will and testament to your family concerning your verdict.
  6. You are Nathaniel Bacon.  Deliver a speech to your followers on the injustices suffered before burning Jamestown.
  7. You are Pope, leading the Pueblo Revolt.  Explain, in a secret message, your plan and reasons for attacking the Spanish.
  8. You are an English Anglican minister.  Write a sermon explaining your reasons for condemning Puritan Separatists.
  9. You are Squanto, a Native American.  As an old man, recount your adventures to your children before meeting Pilgrims.
  10. You are you, a high school student learning American history.  Write a note to a friend concerning what you’ve learned.

Week 2 – Colonial America

  1. You are a young Benjamin Franklin.  Write a witty and politically astute editorial concerning an important event or issue.
  2. You are an indentured servant.  In your diary, list the advantages and disadvantages of your decision to enter servitude.
  3. You work as a carpenter’s apprentice.  Your master has a long delivery to make.  Describe the tasks he left you to finish.
  4. You are William Penn.  Write the preface to your autobiography.  Explain your motives for conversion and settlement.
  5. You are Roger Williams.  In a propaganda pamphlet to Puritans, explain the benefits of tolerance and peace with natives.
  6. You are a colonial smuggler.  In a letter to your buyers, detail a list of contraband, prices and methods for delivery.
  7. You are Jonathan Edwards.  You write an advice column for your parishioners each Saturday.  Draft next week’s column.
  8. You are a sailor on a slave trading ship.  In your pastime, you paint and draw.  Draw images you see each day on ship.
  9. You are Robert Rogers.  In a speech to your men the night before the raid on the Abanake, motivate and inspire them.
  10. You are a captured West African tribal chief.  Describe a conversation you have on a slave ship with a tribal villager.

Week 3 – Pre-Revolutionary America

  1. You are one of the Paxton Boys.  In a eulogy, explain your frustrations concerning life and hardships on the frontier.
  2. You are John Adams (Boston Massacre).  Using the images of Paul Revere, explain how propaganda obscures the truth.
  3. You are King George III.  In conversation with your aides, explain your fears concerning an independent American nation.
  4. You are a British soldier at Lexington.  Tell your grandchildren why and how you fought on that fateful day in April, 1775.
  5. You are a Loyalist farmer.  Write a petition to convince your neighbors that it is in their interests to remain loyal and fight.
  6. You are Thomas Jefferson.  In a letter to Voltaire, explain how Enlightenment ideas can support the injustices of slavery.
  7. You are British General Thomas Gage.  To your subordinates, explain your battle plans for the invasion of New York City.
  8. You are a member of the Sons of Liberty.  In a political cartoon, explain how and why you are fighting against England.
  9. You are the wife of a patriot militiaman.  While spinning with other women, explain your feelings regarding the revolution.
  10. You are a Massachusetts slave.  Smuggle a letter to your wife in South Carolina explaining how your life is in the north.

Week 4 – Revolutionary War

  1. You are Thomas Paine.  In a French jail, years later, write to President Jefferson explaining your contributions to America.
  2. You are George Washington’s personal slave.  In a gospel song, tell why you fight with your master against the English.
  3. You are Deborah Sampson.  Write a children’s book for your granddaughter explaining what it was like to fight as a man.
  4. You are a poor farmer.  At dinner one night with neighbors, explain which side you think will improve life for your family.
  5. You are a Hessian prisoner of war.  After sharing some whiskey, explain to your American captor why you came to fight.
  6. You are a Seneca warrior.  Draw your life story in pictograms on a sacred deer hide.  Emphasize choices and outcomes.
  7. You are Joseph Brandt.  Describe to the British your conversation with President Washington on Mohawk land rights.
  8. You are a French soldier.  Describe your interview with a Newport reporter concerning the details of weapons used then.
  9. You are an American privateer commander.  After setting sail, explain to your officers how discipline will be handled.
  10. You are Abigail Adams.  Explain to your grandchildren why you never organized women’s protests for greater rights.

Week 5 – Articles of Confederation

  1. You are a friend of Daniel Shays.  Write a letter to the editor of a Boston newspaper describing your role in the rebellion.
  2. You are a land speculator.  Draw detailed surveys of western land in Kentucky and divide it into plots for sale to settlers.
  3. You are an Oneida clan mother.  With the exchange of wampum belts, explain why you grant land to Governor Clinton.
  4. You are a Confederate Congressman.  In a report, explain how you intend to organize a government after the war.
  5. You are the daughter of an American Loyalist.  In Halifax, write to your betrothed in Boston concerning your future.
  6. You are a descendent of Sally Hemings.  At a convention, you meet a descendant of Jefferson.  Describe the scene.
  7. You are Daniel Boone.  Explain to a frontier settler your techniques for trailblazing and tracking through the wilderness.
  8. You are John Adams, Ambassador to Great Britain.  In your notes, describe each opponent in your treaty negotiations.
  9. You are James Madison at the Constitutional Convention.  In your journal, explain some of the ideas not adopted & why.
  10. You are Patrick Henry, an anti-federalist.  Put all of the reasons that the Constitution should be rejected into a song.

Week 6 – US Constitution

  1. You are a Quaker abolitionist.  In a love letter to your partner, explain why you can’t live in a world with slavery.
  2. You are Alexander Hamilton.  You’re in an argument with George Mason at the convention.  Explain your points in detail.
  3. You are an anti-federalist newspaper editor speaking out against ratification.  Create an advertisement to meet & protest.
  4. You are a recent immigrant to the US in 1787.  Writing home, describe the differences between the US and your country.
  5. You are a wealthy colonial merchant.  Your friend was at the convention.  Have him explain how the changes benefit you.
  6. You are the child of a plantation slave and master. How does your mixed heritage help or hurt you in the new gov’t?
  7. You are an Iroquois chief in court defending your rights to lease your own land.  Give a speech explaining your position.
  8. You are in debtor’s prison and just learned of the Bill of Rights.  Write a letter pleading your case to the new gov’t.
  9. You are historian, Charles Beard.  In a speech to other historians, explain your theory on economic interpretations.
  10. You are a colonist legislator on the first Moon colony.  Explain in an email to the UN your new moon constitution.

Week 7 – Bill of Rights

  1. You are waiting on Death Row for a new trial.  Can you vote?  Should you?  State your position in the prison newspaper.
  2. You are an illegal immigrant and victim of a violent assault. Do you go to the police or not?  Describe the pros and cons.
  3. You are an American soldier blogging from the front lines.  Write a blog entry about the freedom of speech during war.
  4. You have refused to answer a critical question during a trial.  Explain your reasons why to your lawyer during a recess.
  5. You are an outspoken anti-American Muslim.  As a US citizen, do you have the right to publicly criticize your government?
  6. You are a high school student refusing a random drug test.  Design a t-shirt explaining which right protects you and why.
  7. You are an anti-war activist monitored by the FBI.  Should the gov’t limit rights in order to increase security?  Explain.
  8. You are a captured enemy combatant in Guantanamo Bay.  Should you have protection under US or international law?
  9. You are a pregnant teen seeking an abortion.  Which amendment protects your right and do you foresee it changing?
  10. You are a member of a private militia group.  Can you train in the US freely after the attacks on 9/11?  Why or why not?

Week 8 – Washington, Adams and Jefferson

  1. You are General Anthony Wayne.  Describe your motives to a reporter for destroying Native American tribal land.
  2. You are a Pennsylvanian whiskey rebel.  Create a label for your whiskey bottles explaining your resistance to the tax.
  3. You are the French minister, Talleyrand.  Defend yourself in a brief debate with American diplomats over bribery.
  4. You are William Clark’s slave, York.  Write your own brief account of exploring Native American land as a slave.
  5. You are Benjamin Banneker.  A banquet is held near the end of your life.  In a speech, recount your accomplishments.
  6. You are an immigrant in America today.  For a school project, design a poster board regarding the Alien Acts of 1798.
  7. You are Citizen Genet.  Write a patriotic song that rallies Americans to join the French Revolution against the monarchy.
  8. You are a British navy captain.  Explain your ship’s austere rules and punishments to newly captured American sailors.
  9. You are Sacajawea. Compose and perform a Native American dance symbolizing her memories and feelings.
  10. You are Alexander Hamilton.  In a Congressional speech, explain why you believe helping the wealthy helps America.

Week 9 – Madison, Monroe and Adams

  1. You are a slave trader in Louisiana.  Design an advertisement to bounty hunters to hire their services capturing runaways.
  2. You are a Russian fur trader.  Write a letter back home to your son explaining your journeys exploring the Pacific coast.
  3. You are a wounded British light infantry soldier.  Explain to your superiors how Jackson defeated you in New Orleans.
  4. You are a Cherokee warrior.  After Horseshoe Bend, explain to your tribe why you helped Jackson defeat the Creek.
  5. You are an artist and friend of Oliver Perry.   From Perry’s descriptions to you, paint the naval battle on Lake Erie.
  6. You are Francis Scott Key’s grandson.  Years later, you’ve discovered three first drafts of the Star Spangled Banner.
  7. You are Dolly Madison.  In a newspaper interview, answer the question of why your husband didn’t defend the capitol.
  8. You are Rachel Jackson’s best friend.  Describe her last minutes with her husband and their conversation together.
  9. You are Simon Bolivar’s aide de camp.  Writing to your wife, describe your military campaign against Spanish rule.
  10. You are a white French spy in Haiti.  Describe, to your superiors, the personal background of Toussaint L’Overture.

Week 10 – Age of Jackson

  1. You are Peggy Eaton.  Describe your thoughts concerning John Calhoun’s wife and the political fallout in your diary.
  2. You are John C. Calhoun.  In a speech to a South Carolina convention, defend the idea of nullification to the 1828 tariff.
  3. You are a political cartoonist.  Describe in three panels, the fight over President Jackson’s Force Bill in South Carolina.
  4. You are Andrew Jackson’s bodyguard.  Describe to your son the scene of the attempted assassination of the president.
  5. You are the Bank of the United States.  Write a eulogy for yourself explaining your life’s accomplishments and failings.
  6. You open a ‘wildcat bank’ in Kentucky.  Write an advertisement in the local newspaper for new customers and loaners.
  7. You are a defense lawyer.  Record your prepared questions and anticipated cross examination of Samuel Worchester.
  8. You are Sequoya. Explain and draw each Cherokee letter of your new alphabet.  Write a sentence in your new script.
  9. You are Martin Van Buren’s grocer.  Explain to the president how the depression is affecting your life and business.
  10. You are Nat Turner’s best friend.  On the night before a raid on a white plantation, describe your conversation with him.

Week 11 – Slavery in America

  1. You are Angelina Grimke.  Write a letter to the leaders of Europe concerning their help in ending American slavery.
  2. You are William Lloyd Garrison.  Speaking before a crowd in Boston, explain why you are about to burn the Constitution.
  3. You are John Brown’s son.  While surrounded and outnumbered at Harper’s Ferry, explain your last talk with your father.
  4. You are Harriet Beecher Stowe.  Explain to your editor your three alternate endings to the book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
  5. You are Abraham Lincoln.  In a response to an editorial, explain specifically why you think slavery should continue.
  6. You are Mary Chestnut’s slave.  Explain why you don’t rebel or flee from your mistress’s plantation to a fellow slave.
  7. You are a Southern minister.  Use four selections from the Christian Bible to justify your support for slavery in the South.
  8. You are directing a movie about Frederick Douglass.  In your screenplay, describe in detail his famous July 4th speech.
  9. You are Sojourner Truth’s great granddaughter.  In a chest you uncover some secret lost letters.  What do they say?
  10. You are Henry David Thoreau.  Explain, in a conversation with Emerson, why you eulogized John Brown as a hero.

Week 12 – Sectional Debate

  1. You are Henry Clay.  In your diary explain why you believe in the emancipation of slaves even while you own them.
  2. You are a dock worker in Charleston, South Carolina.  Explain to your son Calhoun’s position on nullification.
  3. You are Daniel Webster.  Defend your position on the Compromise of 1850 to an angry crowd in a passionate speech.
  4. You are a Mexican living in the Arizona territory.  Writing home, explain your position concerning the Wilmot Proviso.
  5. You are Sam Houston’s Cherokee wife.  Explain in a speech to the people of Austin, Texas why the Cherokee own slaves.
  6. You are James Polk.  Write a set of confidential orders for John Slidell to take to Mexico City to negotiate for land.
  7. You are Preston Brooks.  Waving your cane in the air, explain why you attacked Charles Sumner in a public meeting.
  8. You are Eli Whitney’s biographer.  Do you consider him guilty to the expansion of slavery or not?  Write your summary.
  9. You are a political cartoonist that has been hired to symbolize a ‘border ruffian’ for publication. How do you draw it?
  10. You have been hired to smuggle guns to Kansas for ‘free soilers’.  Describe in your journal your travel & adventure.

Week 13 – Economics and Industry

  1. You are a Lowell mill girl.  On your first day in your dormitory, you find a set of rules & instructions.  Read them.
  2. You are a New England farmer.  On a ledger, compare cost and benefits for industrializing in the early 19th century.
  3. You are Cyrus McCormick.  Draw out your detailed design blueprints for your mechanical reaper and thresher.
  4. You are Robert Fulton’s assistant. Record your private meeting with Napoleon and his reaction to the new steamship.
  5. You are an Irish immigrant laying track in Ohio.  Painting is your pastime.  Paint pictures of your labor creating the rails.
  6. You are an Irish Catholic priest recently arrived in Boston.  In your diary, describe your first mass and your parish.
  7. You are an accountant for a plantation owner.  Mathematically determine how many slaves can be bought & sold.
  8. You are Francis Cabot Lowell.  Investors are curious about your ideas to build factories.  In a speech, convince them.
  9. You are Samuel Morse.  Describe your opinions concerning the dangers of immigration, but do so in Morse code.
  10. You are a young female union organizer.  In a letter back home to your sister, describe your first strike and its impact.

Week 14 – Age of Reform

  1. You are a physically disabled boy.  Tell your mother, in a conversation, of the rumors heard of a special hospital for you.
  2. You are a prison warden.  Write an official protest of the reforms suggested that turn your prison into a penitentiary.
  3. You are a Mormon convert.  In a letter to your brother in Boston, describe the basic tenets of the Church of Latter Day Saints.
  4. You are Charles Finney.  Write a newspaper advertisement encouraging Southern women to come to a revival meeting.
  5. You are a frontier school teacher.  Write an appropriate lesson for students studying Latin, mathematics and history in 1834.
  6. You make and sell whiskey.  Bursting into a temperance meetinghouse, state your case to the crowd why alcohol is not a public evil.
  7. You are a runaway slave in Canada.  Draw a detailed map describing your harrowing escape from a Southern plantation in Atlanta.
  8. You are a lyceum participant.  After hearing Ralph Waldo Emerson read passages from Self Reliance, create questions for discussion.
  9. You are Lucy Stone.  In your valedictorian address to Oberlin graduates, explain your position on male dominance & women’s rights.
  10. You are Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  In a conversation with your great-granddaughter, explain why you organized Seneca Falls.

Week 15 – Native Americans

  1. You are a Mohawk clan mother.  Using a ceremonial dance, tell the story of your people and their history before Europeans came.
  2. You are young Red Creek warrior.  Speak your ‘coming of age’ oath before the council of elders concerning your duty to the tribe.
  3. You are a Cherokee elder.  Give a message to a runner to tell your people about the outcome of the Worchester v. Georgia case.
  4. You are a Christian Chickasaw.  Tell your husband about the religious lessons you have learned from a preacher in the nearby fort.
  5. You are a reporter covering Tecumseh’s war.  After meeting him, write a 500 word description of the Shawnee war leader.
  6. You are Joseph Brant.  Compose the introduction to your autobiography by examining your life’s accomplishments and their impact.
  7. You are Governor George Clinton.  Write down the notes of your meeting with land speculators who want to acquire Iroquois land.
  8. You are Chief Justice John Marshall.  Write a personal letter to President Andrew Jackson about the consequence of his actions.
  9. You are Meriwether Lewis.  In your diary, write down notes on the reunion you had with William Clarke years after your expedition.
  10. You are Sacagawea’s great granddaughter.  Explain detailed excerpts of a secret diary recently found written by Sacagawea herself.

Week 16 – Manifest Destiny

  1. You are a Spanish translator for Sam Houston.  Describe your conversation with Santa Anna after the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836.
  2. You are an editor in Boston.   In an editorial, describe Nicolas Trist, his mission to Mexico, recall and negotiation of the peace treaty.
  3. You are an Apache chief.  In a meeting with your friend, the local Mexican mayor, describe your thoughts on American expansion.
  4. You are frontiersman Davy Crockett.  Waiting after the third attack, you begin to sing to boost morale.  Write out two of your songs.
  5. You are the wife of a 49’er.  Write three letters to your husband describing life and news back home.  Explain your stories in detail.
  6. You are Robert E. Lee.  Describe to General Scott your battle plans, vividly explained and drawn, for the Battle of Cerro Gordo.
  7. You are Henry Sager.  Before your death, you gather your family around you.  Give them advice on how to survive the Oregon Trail.
  8. You are David Wilmot’s wife.  In a newspaper article, explain your husband’s position and how it benefits America, black and white.
  9. You are Henry David Thoreau.  Write an open letter to President Polk explaining your position on civil disobedience towards the war.
  10. You are a domestic slave trader.   Explain to your new assistant how the business of slave trading is run in the South and West.

Week 17 – The Coming War

  1. You are Dred Scott’s lawyer.  Considering your trial history so far, write an outline of your opening statement for the Supreme Court.
  2. You are Harriet Tubman.  Prepare a detailed list of all food, equipment, contacts and more that you will need to bring slaves north.
  3. You are Stephen Douglas.  Describe your conversation on slavery with Abraham Lincoln backstage before your final debate in 1858.
  4. You are John Brown’s son.  In your father’s eulogy, describe him as a father and your experiences with him fighting against slavery.
  5. You are Frederick Douglass.  Speaking to select members of the Massachusetts 54th Infantry, explain their purpose and mission.
  6. You are President James Buchanan.  Explain to your cabinet your position that secession and war to stop secession are both illegal.
  7. You are Henry Clay.  Defend your position authorizing the Fugitive Slave Act to a special meeting of Congressmen from the North.
  8. You are Preston Brooks.  In your diary, explain your position on Southern honor and duty as a justification for your violent actions.
  9. You are an Appalachian farmer.  In an interview to a Northern reporter, describe your daily work and your position on slavery.
  10. You are Harriet Beecher Stowe.  For your abolitionist fans, write an alternative ending to your famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Week 18 – The Civil War

  1. You are President Abraham Lincoln.  Justify specific orders to your generals arresting ‘spies’ and destroying printing presses.
  2. You are General George McClellan.  You are about to deliver a major speech for the 1864 election.  Write your speech’s outline.
  3. You are the mother of a Union soldier at Antietam.  Tell your other children of your son’s latest letter describing the battle.
  4. You are a Union prisoner at Andersonville.  Writing on a piece of torn paper to be smuggled out, describe your life while imprisoned.
  5. You are Sergeant Carney’s official biographer.  In an abstract to your publisher, describe his accomplishments and legacy.
  6. You are General George Pickett.  Before your famous charge, give a passionate speech to your soldiers about their place in history.
  7. You are an adjutant for General Lee.  In an interview for the Richmond Enquirer, describe your relationship with him and his genius.
  8. You are an accused Confederate spy.  After three years in prison, explain how you received and sent information as a plea bargain.
  9. You are John Wilkes Booth.  The night before the assassination, gather your accomplices and explain in great detail your plan.
  10. You are a Union ex-slave gravedigger.  Write an introduction to your personal history of the American Civil War from your view.

Week 19 – Reconstruction

  1. You are Mary Todd Lincoln.  In a conversation with your son, Robert, explain your depression and anger over being institutionalized.
  2. You are Nathan Bedford Forest’s father.  In your diary, express your emotions and thoughts concerning your son’s KKK leadership.
  3. You are a middle-aged white teacher.  Write three lesson plans for your first days of teaching math, reading and writing in the South.
  4. You are Rutherford B. Hayes’s political advisor.  In a presidential memo, weigh the costs and benefits of accepting the Compromise.
  5. You are a biracial Louisiana businessman.  Give a speech to your local Chamber of Commerce concerning Butler and reconstruction.
  6. You are a political cartoonist for Harper’s Weekly.  Draw out the issues, personalities and plot of the impeachment of Johnson.
  7. You are Andrew Johnson.  Write out a Presidential pardon to three ex-Confederate generals explaining (differently) why you did so.
  8. You are a Tunis Campbell.  After arriving in North Carolina, explain to a gathering of ex-slaves, how you will rebuild your lives now.
  9. You are Frederick Douglass.  During a memorial to Lincoln, you are asked to speak to the crowd.  Deliver your speech on his life.
  10. You are Marshall Twitchell.  As the sole Union soldier in a Louisiana town, post a notice concerning new laws due to Reconstruction.

Week 20 – Industrialization

  1. You are Andrew Carnegie’s secretary.  Create a detailed list of Mr. Carnegie’s weekly schedule.  Include an hour by hour breakdown.
  2. You are a Hungarian slaughterhouse worker.  In your spare time, as a painter, you draw the details of your work day.  Paint it now.
  3. You administer a home for orphans in New York.  Create a introductory handout for volunteers describing their work duties.
  4. You are the architect for the Chrysler Building.  Design blueprints for the top ten floors including a 3D cross-sectional drawing.
  5. You are Emma Goldman.  Create a pamphlet for new anarchists explaining the purpose and goals of your political philosophy.
  6. You are a city boss.  The heads of the local labor unions demand your arbitration in their contract negotiations.  Take a position.
  7. You are a newspaper reporter interviewing an African American train attendant.  Write an article describing segregation on the lines.
  8. You are Jane Addams.  In a trial defending a homeless immigrant, state your position on social responsibility and its consequences.
  9. You are an Asian American miner in California.  In a letter home to your son, describe America and your experiences here.
  10. You are Thomas Edison.   In a speech to a group of visiting Japanese students, describe your position on American capitalism.

Week 21 – The Labor Movement

  1. You are a German American anarchist.  In an interview with a Chicago newspaper, explain the future of the politically active worker.
  2. You are Eugene V. Debs.  In your acceptance speech for the Socialist Party in 1900, explain how your presidency will change America.
  3. You are an injured child worker.  In your autobiography years later, describe your role marching with Mother Jones in 1903.
  4. You are an IWW organizer.  Design a pamphlet for dockworkers in California concerning their working problems and your solutions.
  5. You are an unemployed, illiterate Hungarian immigrant.  Describe in a letter home your first day in Chicago.  Include every detail.
  6. You are a female Jewish American seamstress.  Write a short story about a fictional utopia where workers live much better than you.
  7. You are President Hayes.  To your Secretary of War, explain your reasons for using federal troops to control strikers around America.
  8. You are a union lawyer arguing for collective bargaining rights of railroad workers in 1878.  Write your opening statement.
  9. You are a National Guard soldier in Ludlow, CO.  In testimony to a military tribunal, describe the events of the massacre in detail.
  10. You are a singer/songwriter.  Write a song about the life of Utah Phillips and his experiences telling the stories of workers in the USA.

Week 22 – Native Americans (post 1865)

  1. You are Red Cloud.
  2. You are Sitting Bull.
  3. You are General Nelson Miles.
  4. You are Chief Joseph.
  5. You are Crazy Horse.
  6. You are Buffalo Bill.
  7. You are General George Custer.
  8. You are Geronimo.
  9. You are Black Elk.
  10. You are Sarah Winnemucca.

Week 23 – Populism

  1. You are William Jennings Bryan.  Choose selections from your ‘Cross of Gold’ speech for book publication.  Include annotations.
  2. You are presidential candidate Thomas Watson.  List your plans for your first 100 days in office by explaining your top 10 reforms.
  3. You are an African American Texan cattle herder.  Give a speech to a gathering of your neighbors to join the Farmer’s Alliance.
  4. You are the widow of a Nebraska farmer.  Draw a detailed blueprint of your farm to divide for sale to land speculators.
  5. You are the editor of a South Dakota newspaper.  Write an editorial specifically targeted for the railroad corporations on Populism.
  6. You are a Populist Party senator elected to the US Congress.  Describe three bills you introduced in legislation to help farmers.
  7. You are Mary E. Lease.  Explain your statement, “The great common people of this country are slaves and monopoly is their master.”
  8. You are a history teacher in 2008. Explain to your department chair why teaching the Populist movement is necessary for US History.
  9. You are a city reporter from New York.  After a grange meeting, take notes on interviews with 10 members who attended.
  10. You are a documentary film-maker shooting about the history of the People’s Party.  Describe your story synopsis for your website.

Week 24 – Imperialism

  1. You are General Valeriano Weyler.  In a communiqué, explain to the Spanish government your detailed plans for reconcentration.
  2. You are a Cuban working in a fish warehouse in Florida.  Take a position on the Platt Amendment in your union newspaper.
  3. You are writing a college thesis using Turner’s ‘closing of the frontier’ argument in defense of imperialism.  Write your introduction.
  4. You are Samuel Clemens.  Write a powerfully sarcastic open letter to President William McKinley concerning anti-imperialism.
  5. You are Emilio Aguinaldo.  Writing a letter to the Anti-Imperialist League, explain the chronology of violence in the Philippines.
  6. You are Senator Henry Lodge.  Explain to a German diplomat in a conversation why and how the US will claim the Samoan Islands.
  7. You are an American soldier in the Philippines.  You have been ordered to burn a rebel village.  Describe the scene in your diary.
  8. You are a personal advisor to Queen Liliuokalani.  To your granddaughter, explain the events leading to the queen’s imprisonment.
  9. You are Admiral Alfred Mahan.  Explain your thesis on naval supremacy to the graduating class of the Naval War College in Newport.
  10. You are a Catholic monk compiling a church history of Church’s presence in the Philippines.  Begin in the 1500’s and end in 1945.

Week 25 – Progressivism

  1. You are a volunteer working at the Hull House.
  2. You are Upton Sinclair’s agent.
  3. You are Eugene V. Debs.
  4. You are historian Charles A. Beard.
  5. You are Robert Lafollette.
  6. You are W.E.B Dubois.
  7. You are John D. Rockefeller’s chauffeur.
  8. You are Alice Paul.
  9. You are Alice Roosevelt.
  10. You are Frederick Taylor.

Week 26 – The Great War

  1. You are a field nurse at the Somme.  At the end of a long day of surgery, write ten postcards to the mothers of the soldiers who died.
  2. You are a munitions worker in Cleveland.  Describe the process of assembly line manufacturing of artillery shells for your local newspaper.
  3. You are a 10 year old victim of influenza. In your report to the government, describe the symptoms, treatment and effects.
  4. You are an official Army photographer.  You’ve been given a new movie camera.  Describe in a letter to your wife what you filmed at Verdun.
  5. You are General John. J. Pershing.  The A.E.F. has just landed in France and you have prepared a speech for your troops.  Deliver it to them.
  6. You are Eddie Rickenbacker’s son.  Describe to your history class how your father fought in the Great War by becoming a flying ace.
  7. You are an African American cook.  In your mail, you’ve received a letter from W.E.B. DuBois.  Read it aloud to your other ‘colored’ comrades.
  8. You are President Woodrow Wilson.  Write in your journal why you believe that the ‘world should be made safe for democracy’ after WWI.
  9. You are a merchant marine navigator.  Draw a schematic of the convoy system and how it would protect transports from U-Boat attacks.
  10. You are an American friend of Wilfred Owen.  Before his died, he gave you his last, final poem on the war.  Share it with your family at home.

Week 27 – The Jazz Age

  1. You are Louis Armstrong.  Write the lyrics to a jazz song you are composing concerning the lives, events and issues of the 1920’s.
  2. You are Zelda Fitzgerald.  In a conversation with your psychotherapist, describe the challenges you’ve faced in your life & marriage.
  3. You are Andrew Mellon.  Give a speech to a group of wealthy business owners justifying the decrease in the top income tax rate.
  4. You are a flapper.  In a letter to your sister in Nebraska, describe explicitly the changes in your life since you arrived in New York City.
  5. You are Henry Ford.  Before entering a convention of businessmen in 1925, write your outline describing reasons for your success.
  6. You are Margaret Sanger.  Design a street pamphlet concerning the reasons for, arguments against & consequences of birth control.
  7. You are Babe Ruth’s bodyguard.  In an interview to a sports reporter, explain an average day keeping up with the ‘Great Bambino’.
  8. You are Eleanor Roosevelt.  Write a magazine article describing the empowerment of women in the 1920’s.  Give five examples.
  9. You are J. Edgar Hoover.  Give a speech to a group of high school students about the dangers of communism & the role of the FBI.
  10. You are Charlie Chaplin.  In an exclusive interview, explain how movies affected your life and what impact you think they have.

Week 28 – The Great Depression

  1. You are John Steinbeck’s agent.  Provide your publisher with a draft of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ and explain why it is a great novel.
  2. You are a city judge deciding evictions. In an interview with Studs Terkel, describe three cases that were most memorable.
  3. You are Walter Walters. Draft a personal appeal to the General MacArthur concerning the needs of the Bonus Expeditionary Forces.
  4. You are President Herbert Hoover.  Explain to a group of the unemployed how volunteerism and Quaker faith can help them survive.
  5. You are John Dillinger.  In a secret meeting with your gang, explain in detail how you plan to rob all of the banks in the state capitol.
  6. You are a migrant farm worker.  Draft a resume for a job interview in California picking grapes.  Provide a full profile with references.
  7. You are a WPA artist.  Paint or draw a mural for an impoverished urban community concerning the mood and hope of the New Deal.
  8. You are a CCC park architect.  In a local national park, design detailed plans for hiking trail construction and recreational facilities.
  9. You are standing in line at a soup kitchen.  Think of your personal chronology that brought you in the Depression to this line.
  10. You are a mayor in a small Dust Bowl town.  In a radio interview broadcast in Chicago, describe what specific aid your town needs.

Week 29 – World War II

  1. You are an infantryman in Patton’s 3rd Army.  In a letter home, explain to your mother why you believe it is important to fight NAZIs.
  2. You are an American observer at the Battle of Stalingrad.  Draw a picture of the magnitude of the battle in your sketchbook.
  3. You are a married housewife.  Describe job in a wheel-bearings factory for aircraft where you’re elected president of your union.
  4. You are a Japanese America banker.  In your memoirs, describe your conversation with your son as he joins the 442nd Infantry.
  5. You are an Army reporter in Dachau.  You meet one of the death camp survivors and she grants you an interview.  She is 10.
  6. You are J. Robert Oppenheimer.  Reconcile your postwar anti-nuclear stance with your wartime support of atomics in a speech.
  7. You are a Navajo ‘windtalker’.  Using the Navajo language, transcribe orders for the Marines to attack Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945.
  8. You are field nurse.  Describe your morning-to-night work schedule towards the end of the war to a reporter from Stars and Stripes.
  9. You are a marine at Iwo Jima.  In a letter home to your girlfriend, describe a Japanese prisoner recently captured to her.  Be detailed.
  10. You are the pilot on the Enola Gay.  Describe your trip to Hiroshima following the war.  Afterwards, give a speech to survivors.

Week 30 – The Cold War

  1. You are Edward Teller.  In a slideshow lecture (PowerPoint) explain the need for American mass production of hydrogen bombs.
  2. You are President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  In a conversation with Governor Faubus, explain to him why schools must desegregate.
  3. You are a nuclear weapon.  Write a eulogy for the human species. In it, explain how you and others caused their ultimate downfall.
  4. You are George Marshall.  To a council of President Truman’s advisers, explain the implicit and explicit effects of the Marshall Plan.
  5. You are George Kennan.  Provide, to a museum curator, your notes for the ‘Long Telegram’ that became containment theory.
  6. You are Albert Einstein’s son.  When with friends, tell three personal stories about the personal and scientific greatness of your dad.
  7. You are Lucille Ball.  Write a comedy script (or act it out) concerning life as you.  Include your show, your background, the times, etc.
  8. You are Chubby Checker’s son.  While cleaning your room, you discover an unpublished song from your dad.  Publish it here.
  9. You are a reporter interviewing James Dean on the set of ‘Rebel without a Cause’.  Record your conversation about his role & legacy.
  10. You are Billy Graham’s assistant.  Provide to the East Berlin press a list of main points in his speech in 1960 at the Brandenburg Gate.

Week 31 – The Civil Rights Movement and the Sixties Generation

  1. You are Tom Hayden.  Sitting with a group of SDS friends, draft an outline for your Port Huron Speech.  Explain your main points.
  2. You are Joni Mitchell.  Write a song that describes in a narrative the following emotions: grief, love, betrayal, longing, and fear.
  3. You are Malcolm X’s bodyguard.  In conversation, tell your grandchildren about your five favorite memories about Malcolm X’s life.
  4. You are John Lewis.  While visiting an inner city neighborhood, you meet gang members.  What do you tell them about your life?
  5. You are Fannie Lou Hamer.  Sitting in jail with hundreds of supporters, sing your favorite protest song about the movement.
  6. You are a Freedom Rider.  In a conversation on a bus heading south, explain to a salesman why you join the sit in movement.
  7. You are Huey Newton.  Design a poster describing a visual representation of each of the Black Panther Party’s 10 point programs.
  8. You are a music critic chosen to select three of Bob Dylan’s songs into the Grammy Award’s Hall of Fame.  Write your critiques.
  9. You are Dr. Timothy Leary.  Give a speech to a group of lawyers and doctors who are trying to understand the 60’s philosophy.
  10. You are filming the life story of John Lennon.  What ten pivotal events do you choose to be the subject of your film.  Describe each.

Week 32 – Cuba and the Vietnam War

  1. You are Robert F. Kennedy.  In a private conversation with John McCone, describe your plans for Castro’s assassination attempts.
  2. You are Fidel Castro.  Speaking to a group of Cuban soldiers, explain the significance to Cuba and the world of the Bay of Pigs attack.
  3. You are Walter Cronkite.  For your producer, prepare detailed outlines for 3 stories and interviews from your trip to Vietnam.
  4. You are Nikita Khrushchev.  Present a visual contingency war plan to your generals if the nuclear crisis provokes a US attack on Cuba.
  5. You are Lt. William Calley.  Provide an opening statement at your court martial concerning the chronology of events at My Lai.
  6. You are Private Ron Kovic.  With a loudspeaker, explain to the police why you are leading protests against the draft board in LA.
  7. You are General Westmoreland.  In a visual presentation, explain to President Johnson a planned bombing raid over Hanoi in 1967.
  8. You are Henry Kissinger.  In a secret meeting with President Nixon, explain how you think the US can win in and leave from Vietnam.
  9. You are President Lyndon B. Johnson.  To a high school audience, explain the reasons why America needs youth to fight in Vietnam.
  10. You are Che Guevara.  Design a pamphlet to be mass produced explaining the reasons to fight American imperialism in the 1960’s.

Week 33 – The Women’s Rights Movement

  1. You are the first female athlete at your high school.
  2. You are the first female police officer in Memphis.
  3. You are a female reporter at the NY Times.
  4. You are a graduate of Smith College in 1969.
  5. You are Angela Davis.
  6. You are Shirley Chisholm.
  7. You are a reporter for Ms. magazine.
  8. You are Ella Baker.
  9. You are an airline stewardess.
  10. You are Betty Friedan.

Week 34 – America in the 1970’s

  1. You are a guard at the Attica prison.  In a resignation letter, explain the causes and effects of the riot and why you are leaving.
  2. You are John Dean.  Write a private letter to President Nixon, describing your ethical dilemma and final choice regarding testifying.
  3. You are Daniel Ellsberg.  Give an underground radio interview to anti-war protesters about your evidence on the war in Vietnam.
  4. You are a resident of Love Canal, NY.  For a protest against the polluting factories, design three illustrative and informative posters.
  5. You are a nuclear scientist at Three Mile Island.  Testify before Congress on why a disaster was prevented.  Make recommendations
  6. You are a roadie for Led Zeppelin.  You pick up a paper meant for the trash and it’s the lyrics of a forgotten song.  Publish it here.
  7. You are President Jimmy Carter’s daughter.  For a school assignment, take one of your father’s major speeches and summarize it.
  8. You are an American embassy hostage.  You are given a TV interview for five minutes.  Tell what has happened to your family.
  9. You are a political cartoonist.  Draw a cartoon explaining the reasons for the gas shortage and its effect on American foreign policy.
  10. You are Jane Roe.  In an interview for the National Organization of Women, explain what impact your verdict will have for America.

Week 35 – Reagan’s Conservatism

  1. You are CIA Director Bill Casey.  In a conversation with President Reagan, explain why the US should support the Mujahedeen.
  2. You are the daughter of Geraldine Ferraro.  Write your college thesis on your mother’s historic role in the 1984 presidential election.
  3. You are Lt. Colonel Oliver North.  Before a joint session of Congress, detail your motivation and role in the Iran-Contra scandal.
  4. You are the commander of NORAD.  Brief your new deputy commander on the protocols for a full nuclear launch sequence.
  5. You are Nancy Reagan.  Speaking with Rasia Gorbachev, describe your husbands’ plans for a possible end to the Cold War.
  6. You are pop star Michael Jackson’s architect.  Explain to Jackson your design for the blueprints of the Neverland Ranch in California.
  7. You are Mikhail Gorbachev.  In a closed door session of the Soviet Politburo, explain why glasnost and perestroika are needed now.
  8. You are an American businessman in South Africa.  Explain to the CEO’s of Coca Cola and IBM why they must stop all business in SA.
  9. You are Saddam Hussein.  In a private session with American military officials, determine the conditions of your alliance with the US.
  10. You are astronaut Sally Ride.  At an awards dinner, explain how your childhood and education prepared you to be a NASA astronaut.

Week 36 – The Post Cold War World

  1. You are Hillary Clinton.  In a Senate hearing, briefly explain your position on universal health care to those in the opposition.
  2. You are a cofounder of Google.  In a video interview with leading dotcom CEO’s, explain how the Internet will change the world.
  3. You are a computer programmer.  In a PowerPoint presentation to the NSA, explain the potential harms of the Y2K crisis.
  4. You are a Russian political cartoonist.  Draw a cartoon describing Yeltsin’s plans for the former Soviet Union and nation of Russia.
  5. You are a Gulf War veteran.  Write down your diary entries for the ground assault on Saddam’s forces in Kuwait.  Be descriptive.
  6. You are a Ross Perot supporter.  In a televised debate, describe the arguments against both Bush and Clinton and for Perot.
  7. You are Kurt Cobain’s best friend.  In his home you find an unpublished song about the issues and country we live in.  Publish it here.
  8. You are a reporter interviewing Osama Bin Laden.  Write an editorial concerning his philosophy on radical Islam and the US.
  9. You are a 9 year old survivor of the Waco Branch Davidians.  In therapy, draw images that describe your feelings during the attacks.
  10. You are a Richard Holbrooke’s aide.  In your notes, describe the atmosphere and the dialogue of the Dayton Peace Accords.

Week 37 – The 21st Century and Beyond

  1. You are a female Iranian college student.
  2. You are a member of Doctors Without Borders
  3. You are a fireman survivor of 9/11.
  4. You are the lead designer of the iPod.
  5. You are Vice President Richard Cheney.
  6. You are an Iraqi War veteran.
  7. You are writing a novel about the world 100 years from now.
  8. You are a leading geneticist.
  9. You are an undercover operative in the Taliban militia.
  10. You are President Barack Obama.