Tag Archives: debate

Controversy in the History Classroom

The American Historical Association has an online publication called Perspectives on History. I’ve discovered the articles there from scanning the RSS feed of AHA on Google Reader, and became very interested. Although its a cliche to say that engaging students in a history classroom focuses on current events and connections in history, I have always been interested in learning more about what is not taught from our past. Here are a few people who raise interesting perspectives on sex, Darwin, abortion, LBGTQ, and other issues. Here are a few quotes from the articles. All of them can be read here.

Controversy in the Classroom: A Matter for Debate by Pillarisetti Sudhir – “The modern classroom, forged to meet the needs of industrialization, was not meant to be a site for contestations and controversies. From one-room schoolhouses on the prairies of hinterlands to the crowded, redbrick halls of city-center ivory towers, classrooms were mainly locations for the transmission of knowledge. Students were expected, for the most part, to receive the wisdom of their teachers without questioning; and teachers, on their part, were supposed to steer clear of controversial topics. Social and cultural pressures, administrative fiats, parental reactions, and even, at times legislative measures, ensured that for a long time, classrooms, whether in secondary schools or in colleges and universities, remained uncontaminated by debate and controversy (with only the occasional flare-up over such matters as the teaching about Darwinian evolution in a place where it was forbidden by law). This was especially true, perhaps, for history classrooms, as long as the discipline of history itself remained an uncontested terrain. That seemingly happy situation was changed, and changed utterly with the advent of new historiographic perspectives and new histories that, yoked as they were to radical sociopolitical transformations, brought new groups into history books (and classrooms) that had, until then, remained homogenous and anodyne. History, long a subject that induced yawns of ennui and indifference, suddenly became a serious site for controversy, one in which the content of school textbooks became a matter of fierce struggles in locations as distant as India, Japan and Texas, or in which new interpretations of old themes were continually challenged or declared non grata.”

 

Teaching LBGTQ History: Two Situations by Vicki L. Eaklor – “Too often we historians “ghettoize” experiences of less visible or powerful people into the single lecture or two, but in doing so we reinforce their otherness even as we claim to be inclusive. To mention the debates over Lincoln’s (or Buchanan’s) sexuality, or women who cross-dressed to fight in wars, for example, is to show students something of the complexity of the past, and introduce the arguments over how and why history is done in the first place. I have found students as interested in the uncertainties of history as in yet another recitation of the “facts” they heard in high school.”

 

Taking the Court into the Classroom: Using Legal Cases to Discuss Controversial Topics by James Coll – “Prayer in public schools? Try Engle v. Vitale. The right to own a gun? Read District of Columbia v. Heller. A march by neo-Nazis in a predominantly Jewish Chicago suburb? Peruse National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie. Abortion rights? Study Roe v. Wade. The powers of the police? Analyze Mapp v. OhioMiranda v. ArizonaTerry v. Ohio, and so on; the list can be quite long.”

 

Beyond Morality: Teaching about Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide by James Frusetta – “Initially, I had asked students to think about “Why have ethnic cleansings occurred in history?” Now, I reframed this: we would try to answer the question, “Have ethnic cleansings proven useful to their perpetrators?” The intent was not simply to reframe the question in an amoral fashion, but rather to encourage students to think about questions of utility—and how such utility could be stripped away in the future.”

Please feel free to share your thoughts on these articles here.

New Poverty Formula

Check out this article.  It has a lot of interesting information in it.  Also see these links for further research:

Revised formula puts 1 in 6 Americans in poverty

WASHINGTON – The level of poverty in America is even worse than first believed.

A revised formula for calculating medical costs and geographic variations show that approximately 47.4 million Americans last year lived in poverty, 7 million more than the government’s official figure.

The disparity occurs because of differing formulas the Census Bureau and the National Academy of Science use for calculating the poverty rate. The NAS formula shows the poverty rate to be at 15.8 percent, or nearly 1 in 6 Americans, according to calculations released this week. That’s higher than the 13.2 percent, or 39.8 million, figure made available recently under the original government formula.

That measure, created in 1955, does not factor in rising medical care, transportation, child care or geographical variations in living costs. Nor does it consider non-cash government aid when calculating income. As a result, official figures released last month by Census may have overlooked millions of poor people, many of them 65 and older.

According to the revised NAS formula:

_About 18.7 percent of Americans 65 and older, or nearly 7.1 million, are in poverty compared to 9.7 percent, or 3.7 million, under the traditional measure. That’s due to out-of-pocket expenses from rising Medicare premiums, deductibles and a coverage gap in the prescription drug benefit.

_About 14.3 percent of people 18 to 64, or 27 million, are in poverty, compared to 11.7 percent under the traditional measure. Many of the additional poor are low-income, working people with transportation and child-care costs.

_Child poverty is lower, at about 17.9 percent, or roughly 13.3 million, compared to 19 percent under the traditional measure. That’s because single mothers and their children disproportionately receive non-cash aid such as food stamps.

_Poverty rates were higher for non-Hispanic whites (11 percent), Asians (17 percent) and Hispanics (29 percent) when compared to the traditional measure. For blacks, poverty remained flat at 24.7 percent, due to the cushioning effect of non-cash aid.

_The Northeast and West saw bigger jumps in poverty, due largely to cities with higher costs of living such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Census Bureau said it expedited release of the alternative numbers for this month because of the interest expressed by lawmakers and the Obama administration in seeing a fuller range of numbers. Legislation pending in Congress would mandate a switch to the revised formula, although the White House could choose to act on its own.

Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that because the revised formula factors in non-cash government aid, the amount of increase in poverty from 2007 to 2008 was generally smaller compared to the current measure.

Food stamp participation rose during the first year of recession and appears to have softened what could have been an even greater increase in financial hardship,” he said.

Sherman said the revised formula could take on greater importance in measuring poverty for 2009 as more Americans take advantage of tax credits and food stamps under the federal stimulus program. Food stamp assistance currently is at an all-time high of about 36 million.

Revised formula puts 1 in 6 Americans in poverty

WASHINGTON – The level of poverty in America is even worse than first believed.

A revised formula for calculating medical costs and geographic variations show that approximately 47.4 million Americans last year lived in poverty, 7 million more than the government’s official figure.

The disparity occurs because of differing formulas the Census Bureau and the National Academy of Science use for calculating the poverty rate. The NAS formula shows the poverty rate to be at 15.8 percent, or nearly 1 in 6 Americans, according to calculations released this week. That’s higher than the 13.2 percent, or 39.8 million, figure made available recently under the original government formula.

That measure, created in 1955, does not factor in rising medical care, transportation, child care or geographical variations in living costs. Nor does it consider non-cash government aid when calculating income. As a result, official figures released last month by Census may have overlooked millions of poor people, many of them 65 and older.

According to the revised NAS formula:

_About 18.7 percent of Americans 65 and older, or nearly 7.1 million, are in poverty compared to 9.7 percent, or 3.7 million, under the traditional measure. That’s due to out-of-pocket expenses from rising Medicare premiums, deductibles and a coverage gap in the prescription drug benefit.

_About 14.3 percent of people 18 to 64, or 27 million, are in poverty, compared to 11.7 percent under the traditional measure. Many of the additional poor are low-income, working people with transportation and child-care costs.

_Child poverty is lower, at about 17.9 percent, or roughly 13.3 million, compared to 19 percent under the traditional measure. That’s because single mothers and their children disproportionately receive non-cash aid such as food stamps.

_Poverty rates were higher for non-Hispanic whites (11 percent), Asians (17 percent) and Hispanics (29 percent) when compared to the traditional measure. For blacks, poverty remained flat at 24.7 percent, due to the cushioning effect of non-cash aid.

_The Northeast and West saw bigger jumps in poverty, due largely to cities with higher costs of living such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The Census Bureau said it expedited release of the alternative numbers for this month because of the interest expressed by lawmakers and the Obama administration in seeing a fuller range of numbers. Legislation pending in Congress would mandate a switch to the revised formula, although the White House could choose to act on its own.

Arloc Sherman, a senior researcher at the nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said that because the revised formula factors in non-cash government aid, the amount of increase in poverty from 2007 to 2008 was generally smaller compared to the current measure.

Food stamp participation rose during the first year of recession and appears to have softened what could have been an even greater increase in financial hardship,” he said.

Sherman said the revised formula could take on greater importance in measuring poverty for 2009 as more Americans take advantage of tax credits and food stamps under the federal stimulus program. Food stamp assistance currently is at an all-time high of about 36 million.

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On the Net:

Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov