Sunday, November 9, 2008

Continuing Ed Opportunities

The Election First...
Every four years I get pretty emotional with my classes. I tell myself I won't do it this year, but... How can we not get emotional. One of the greatest political miracles happens right before our eyes. The most powerful man on earth voluntarily steps asides and hands his job to another who may or may not be a political rival. This miracle doesn't happen everywhere folks. It always happens here!

This year I sort of out did myself. I actually opened the windows of my room and asked the student, "What do you hear?" Beyond a bird or two and a couple of cars they responded "not much." "Precisely," I said. "No tanks, no marching troops, no gun shots or rocket explosions. The miracle of a free election with no threat of military coup, no violence, no blood shed. What a special nation this really is."

Of course the kids think I am an old man who has lost it, and maybe they are right. However I have now lived through this transition of power beginning with Harry Truman returning to Independence, to George W. handing the reigns of power to an African American. Truman desegregated the military and bureaucracy and now a Black man will occupy the White House. Regardless of who you supported this election, you must admit that America grew up just a little bit. 2008 wasn't an election about a Black man becoming President. It was an election about domestic, economic, and foreign policy that just happened to be between a White man and Black man. I am really proud of US (pun intended). I hope you too have passed that on to your students.

.....Then Some Opportunities You Might Want to Check Out

Here are a couple of continuing education opportunities I wanted to share with you. The first is the Bill of Rights Institute. This organization has been around since 1999 and works with a $4 million annual budget. Their mission statement is to education students on the Bill of Rights and the liberties of the American people. If you go to the site, click on Teachers and go to the list of seminars. The one day seminars are absolutely fantastic. Mr. Brett Helm taught a seminar I attended earlier this fall on Supreme Court cases that changed history concerning civil rights and affirmative action. Along with a law professor from the University of Kansas Law School the day was a learning opportunity that no AP teacher should miss. This year the Institute is hosting week long seminars at Mount Vernon in June and August. Several of my colleagues have attended the summer seminars and gained huge amounts of information. Check them out!

The other opportunity might actually fit better in the Hippo History Blog, but then where does history end and political science begin? (my apologies to Karen if I am stepping on her toes :))This is the Gilder-Lehrman Institute. While many AP History teachers are familiar with Gilder-Lehrman, I find that many AP Government teachers have never heard of the organization. G-L's mission is primarily in the history field, but I have applied for a gem of a summer institute this summer (see the list) on the role of the Court in US history. Several other topics offered around the country this summer are very much cross-over topics.

Both of the above mentioned continuing education opportunities will add to your arsenal of knowledge. I have experiences with both organizations and highly recommend them...satisfaction guaranteed.

With changes in Congress, the administration building, and an inauguration around the corner there are tons of great teaching opportunities available. Drop us a line and let us know what you are doing with your classes concerning the transition government. Until then...

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