October 11

Blog #102 – FDR’s 2nd Bill of Rights

As part of his State of the Union address on January 11, 1944, President Roosevelt presented the nation with a 2nd Bill of Rights – economic rights that the government would have to guarantee for all Americans once the laws were passed.  Take a look at the following video:

Some of the key passages are as follows:
“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence…People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation (since only 2-3% of the nation are farmers and less than 20% are in industry, this would have to change if this BoR / laws were implemented);
 
2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
 
3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living (since so few of us are farmers now, this might change);
 
4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
 
5. The right of every family to a decent home;
 
6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health (did we just achieve this in 2010 with the passage of ObamaCare?);
 
7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
 
8. The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.  For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”
Image result for fdr 2nd bill of rights

He listed 8 things that would bring economic security to our nation and hopefully, by extension, to the rest of the world.  At the point that he gave this address in history, America was NOT planning on a Cold War with the Soviet Union or stockpiling tens of thousands of nuclear missiles or spending billions on a military budget every year.  None of the 46 years of futility vs. the Soviet Union was set in stone, nor the explosion and entrenchment of the military-industrial complex in our national economy like it is today.

However, America was coming out of the war w/ its biggest national debt in its history (having borrowed $200 billion from the American people in war bonds – $170 billion held by U.S. taxpayers – and from American banks + $100 billion in income taxes).  Congressmen were wary of spending huge amounts of money on peace time programs, especially for FDR, because his New Deal programs had had such a mixed track record of success and failure.

The reason I bring this issue up is b/c I think that the country has spent the next 73 years (and may continue) to try to achieve his goals.  As we progress through the school year, we’ll return to these eight core principles and examine how we have failed and / or succeeded.

Your questions to answer: 
1. Out of the 8 new rights listed above, which of them do you believe have been addressed in some way or another since 1944?  Try to pick at least 2 and explain our country has tried to address them (if you choose #6, please try to do some research and not repeat misinformation that you might have heard on talk shows, i.e., it’s going to save billions, death panels, it forces everyone to buy insurance, etc.)

2. Which of these 8 rights should be the one that is immediately addressed or fixed by our Congress and President?  Why?

3. Which one of these seems the least likely to be enforceable / possible to make an economic right (please don’t pick the farming right – it doesn’t affect too many people)?  Why?

350 words minimum total for all three answers.  Due Monday, October 16th by class.    

Here’s Glenn Beck’s take on FDR’s 2nd Bill of Rights.  Here.

Further reading:
To read a book review entitled: “FDR’s 2nd Bill of Rights: A New New Deal” click here.
A response to this book from Forbes magazine who say that only one Bill of Rights is quite enough. click here.
Here’s an analysis of how the 2nd Bill is going so far: Click here.
An article about how the 2nd BoR violates the Constitution, click here.

June 8

Race to Nowhere E.C. blog

The movie, Race to Nowhere, shows the pressure and stress children and teens go through in school these days.  Teachers are given too much homework and too many tests, and kids are literally losing sleep over it. The combination of school, sports, homework, chores, and work already takes up the majority of the week, leaving little to no time for family, friends, relaxing, and most importantly, sleep.

The movie told the story of one tragic suicide of a 13 year old stressed out girl, a situation that has happened far more than once due to school. Not only students, but teachers are unhappy with the way schools are run. One teacher shared her thoughts on how she feels that its hard for her to teach the things she thinks really matter and will help the students when the government is telling her students need to be taught. 

 The result? Kids are going crazy trying to learn all this information, and usually are just cramming it all in barely remembering any of it. Every student I spoke with that watched the film agreed with it. There is also another side viewers (mainly parents) took, saying that school should be difficult and failure is a part of life.

A story on endtherace.org describes Harvard or Walmart syndrome, where students and parents believe that success is defined as getting into Harvard, and if you don’t, you’ll have no other option but to work at Walmart for the rest of your life. 

The movie brought up a few different questions that it seems everyone has different answers to:

1. Where does this pressure come from: parents, teachers, the government, the universities or the students themselves?  Combination?

2. Are the tests and amount of homework given to students fair, or is it an overload?

3. Are standardized tests a good way to test students?

4. Sure, people are bringing up all these problems and saying everything that’s wrong and right, but what do the students think about their education? We’re already learning more than generations before us did (there’s more history, new scientific advances, new technology), but what should we be learning and how much work should we be doing?

5. So the real question: If you could design your own, realistic high school experience, what would one typical week look like?  How much homework is fair, how hard should the tests be, how much information would you be responsible for knowing, and what classes would be required to take?

 Please answer at least 3 questions. 

Thanks to Lizzie D. for writing this blog.

October 13

Blog #3 – Your reaction to video, “A Vision of Students Today”

The Groves staff watched this video back at the end of August as one of the introductory discussion topics / food for thought to get us going for the upcoming school year.  It is made by a professor at Kansas State University named Michael Wesch who studies cultural anthropology.

The premise of the video is: “what is it like being a student today?”  Dr. Wesch gets his students to answer the question in a myriad of different ways – some of their responses apply to you and some of them don’t (not being in a college / university environment with huge classrooms). 

Questions to answer:

1. What kind of picture does this video paint of today’s students (yes, college students, but one day soon, you will be one of them)? 

2. Do you think this video presents an accurate picture?   Why or why not? 

3. What do you think are the top three things that a teacher could learn from this video?  Why do you choose these three topics? 

250 words  – due Friday October 15

A link to Dr. Wesch’s talk about the anthropological origins of You Tube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU&feature=channel

October 1

Blog #2 – Pick a topic to blog

Choose one of the following questions and answer it by Monday, October 4th. 

200 words minimum. 

1. Were the Spanish just in their attempt to Christianize the Native Americans?  Why or why not?

2. Why was there so much tension between the religious groups in America?  Why were so many of them intolerant of others?

3. What are the risks and benefits of refusing to conform with society if you diagree with its principles?  Do you think it’s worth it today?  Why or why not? 

4. How would our population be distributed differently if the Mayfower had landed in Virginia (where it was supposed to land)?  How might this have affected the American Revolution (or would there have even been one)?

5. Do you think that bad people can improve given a second chance?  Take into account the history of Georgia. 

6. Why do you think religious extremists are still present in today’s society?  In what ways do these groups compare to the Separatists / Pilgrims?puritans

7. With the New England education system, independent thinking appeared to have been discouraged.  What do you think this meant for education institutions back then?  What must it have been like to have been a student back then?

8. What were the European explorers’ reactions to the unbounded nature of the New World?

9. If Europeans hadn’t settled the Americas, how do you think the U.S. would look like today?

10. If Powhatan hadn’t intervened in the fate of Jamestown’s “starving time”, what might have happened to the colony?

11. How did a person suddenly come up with a new version of Christianity? 

12. Would people have migrated to America if King Henry VIII hadn’t broken from the Roman Catholic Church?  Why or why not?

13. Was it hypocritical for the Puritans to persecute the Quakers, especially after they were persecuted in England?

14. Were the Wampanoags and other Indian tribes justified in their reasoning for launching King Philip’s War (to stop the spread of the English onto their land) and the death and injury of several hundred English men and women?  Why or why not?  king philip

15. Why did the Europeans treat the natives so poorly when many of them were helpful and peaceful at first?

16. Do you think Father Bartoleme de Las Casas’ idea to use Africans instead of Indians as slaves in the New World was a major factor in the establishment of African slavery in America?  Why or why not?

17. How were the European explorers able to communicate with the Native Americans when they first arrived?

18. If people like John Smith hadn’t helped the settlers survive, what do you think would have happened to the new colonies?

19. What gave certain people or religion the right to pass discriminatory laws?

20. Why did the English monarch send Edmund Andros over to lead the Dominion of New England instead of appointing someone from the colonies?  What would have happened if a New Englander had been in charge?

21. Often times, it’s been said that one leader completely helped a colony to survive;  do you think that it is a fair statement to give one person sole responsibility for the success of a colony (Peter Stuyvesant, John Smith, Miles Standish)?

22. Would Americans have been as religiously tolerant today if the Quakers and Puritans actually had gotten along back in the 17th Century?  Why or why not? 

23. If you were Peter Stuyvesant, would you have given up New York without a fight?  Why or why not? 

24. Do you think the “visible saints” actually believed that they had been chosen by God or do you think that they faked it for the social acceptance and enhanced social standing?

25. How do you think American (and Virginian) history would have been different if John Rolfe hadn’t developed a better, less bitter strain of tobacco to export to Europe?

26. Which of the early American colonies would you have liked to have lived in?  Why?

27. What do you think led Roger Williams to develop his “radical” views on religion?  roger williams

28. Everyone has their own interpretation of religion, so why does that have to affect the way that they live and treat others?

29. Which person that we’ve studied so far was the most democratic?  How about the most aristocratic?  Why?

30. Why do you think the Roanoke settlement disappeared?

31. What changes do you think would have occurred in the progression of colonial society if colonists were less hostile towards Native Americans?

32. During the African slave trade, how could African leaders have so easily sold other Africans into slavery?

33. If you were to start a new colony somewhere, what kinds of principles would you build it upon and why?  Think about religion, education, government, philosophy, morals, etc.

34. How do you think a 17th Century Puritan would react to our society today?  (Think of common behaviors, style of dress, religious attitudes, freedom, technology, etc.).

35. Which of the original 13 colonies do you think best represents America today?  Why?

36. How do you think Old World Europeans viewed those people who left their country and headed out to the unknown New World?

37. Do you think Puritan women felt discriminated against when they weren’t allowed any say-so in law making or decision-making?  Or do you think they accepted their role / fate as what God had wanted?  Why?

38. Why, during the Great Awakening, did slave-owners decide to teach their slaves about Christianity, when they did not even consider them human beings deserving of natural rights (in essence, by recognizing that slaves have a soul to save from hell, it’s a recognition of their humanity – something that had been denied them)?