“As a mapmaker, I can have more impact on an election than a campaign. More of an impact than a candidate. When, I as a mapmaker, have more of an impact on an election than the voters, the system is out of whack.”
Republican redistricting consultant following 1990 Census
I don’t think we spend enough time having kids explore the whole gerrymandering thing as part of our government / civics engagement instruction. David is right. And I don’t think enough of us understand the power that redistricting can have on the democractic process.
Quick primer. Gerrymandering is the legislative act of creating voting maps that favor your particular political party. And according to a recent Wired article, it usually involves one of two different tools: Read more
Here in the great state of Kansas, we’re busy working to develop and implement a standards-based assessment tool that needs to measure a ton of things. Historical thinking. Reading. Writing. Problem solving. Connecting past with contemporary issues.
Oh . . . and civic engagement.
And not just the book learnin’ civic engagement as in . . . there are three branches of government and you need to vote and people can demonstrate and there is a Bill of Rights and it’s a good idea to help others.
Our Kansans Can state board vision requires civic engagement that involves students actually doing something. Getting out of the classroom. Increasing voter registration. Raising awareness and funds for malaria mosquito nets. Organizing a Breast Cancer 5K run. Creating and staffing an after-school club for latch key kids. Buddy programs that connect new students with current students.
So how do you measure that? What can that look like K-12? Yeah . . . well. We’re not completely sure yet. But lots of people are working on it – including official KSDE civic engagement guy and social studies guru Don Gifford. Don recently communicated some of his personal professional learning with Kansas educators and I want to share what he’s starting to figure out. Because it seems like the sort of stuff that can help not just Kansas teachers but Read more
Perhaps now more than ever, we all to need to better understand and appreciate the first ten amendments to the Constitution. So . . . after taking a trip in the Wayback Machine, I found this earlier post in the History Tech archives. I think it still fits.
Okay . . . admit it. How many of you didn’t know that today is Bill of Rights Day?
Come on, it’s okay.
Yes, I see those hands.
I first ran across Bill of Rights Day a few years ago. I consider myself a person who keeps up with this sort of thing but I had no idea. Back in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 15 to be Bill of Rights Day, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. So it’s been around a while.
And we probably need to make a bigger deal out of this than we are. Civic literacy and understanding of the nuance embedded in the first 10 Amendments seems a bit low right about now.
FDR observed in 1941 that Read more
For a former poly sci major, a presidential election year is like one long Super Bowl party. Polls. Data. Ads. Commentary. Analysis. Policy discussions. Lots and lots of analysis. Throw in the Senate and House races – not to mention the state and local stuff going on here in Kansas – and it doesn’t get any better.
And the cool thing is that there are tons of online resources available to help me, you, and your students understand and participate in the process.
Your first step should be to browse through the article titled Have Politics Become So Ugly That Educators Are Afraid To Teach Civics? It might be easier to pretend the election is already over and try to ignore all the ugliness that can happen when we see so much polarization in the process. But we can not ignore our task as social studies educators – preparing students to be thoughtful, engaged, and informed citizens. Read more
I love election season.
I hate politicians that say stupid things and do stupid stuff. But I love elections.
Because when you think about, the democratic election process is such an incredibly unique event. Try and ignore for a minute the billion dollars worth of Koch Brothers PAC money and the racist comments and the focus on soundbites and lack of policy discussions that might actually improve lives. And focus instead on the amazing process that ends with a peaceful transfer of power in one of the most powerful countries in the world.
It’s a system that’s worked fairly well for over 200 years.
And we need to continue sharing that idea with our students. The problem? The process is more complicated than it looks. Take, for example, an article describing why Donald Trump really doesn’t have a chance of winning the Republican nomination. Like most things, the political process (especially the primary system) is much more complicated and nuanced than pundits and politicians seem to suggest.
How can we help kids start to understand the process? Use more tech. Specifically, start using mobile apps that simulate the process in ways that make sense. Today you get a few of my new favorites. Read more
“He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”
Article II, Section 3, US Constitution
Back in the day, George Washington delivered the first state of the union address to Congress in New York City in 1790. Thomas Jefferson believed that a face to face version was too much King George the IIIish and so began sending written reports instead. Other presidents followed suit with the report being read to Congress by a clerk. Woodrow Wilson re-started the face to face idea in 1913.
Other #SOTU trivia?
Jimmy Carter delivered the last written message to Congress in 1981. Of course, it was also the longest message at over 33,000 words, so maybe that was a good thing. Nixon’s 1972 speech was the shortest at just over 28 minutes.
But enough poly sci nerd talk. How best to use last night’s festivities? Some quick thoughts: