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Why I Got Fired From Teaching American History

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  • I showed (my students) that during the American Revolution drunkards, laggards, prostitutes, and pirates pioneered many of the freedoms and pleasures we now cherish -- including non-marital sex, interracial socializing, dancing, shopping, divorce, and the weekend -- and that the Founding Fathers, in the name of democracy, opposed them.
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  • Hey Tea Party-Republicans: The Founders Are Not Your Guys
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Thaddeus Russell, Huffington Post

Five years ago, I had every reason to believe that my job as a history professor at Barnard College was secure. I had been teaching there for four years, I had published my dissertation with a major publisher, and because I had tripled the sizes of the introductory U.S. history course and the American Studies program, colleagues told me they "would be shocked" if I were not promoted to a tenure-track position.

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But that was before my colleagues knew what I was teaching.

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I had always been a misfit in academia, partly because of my background, partly because of my personality, and increasingly over the years because of my ideas -- ideas that are now a book called "A Renegade History of the United States."

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Book Review: A Renegade History of the United States by Thaddeus Russell, fcetier, blogcritics.org/Seattle Post-Intelligencer | WA
“In the summer of 1957, a Baptist preacher in the segregated South issued a series of fiery sermons denouncing the laziness, promiscuity, criminality,  drunkenness, slovenliness, and ignorance of Negroes,” says Thaddeus Russell; from the book A Renegade History of the United States. “He suggested that blacks were ‘thinking about sex’ every time they walked down the street.  They were too violent.  They didn’t bathe properly. And their music, which was invading homes all over America, ‘plunges men’s minds into degrading and immoral depths.’”

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Hey Tea Party-Republicans: The Founders Are Not Your Guys, Harvey Wasserman, Common Dreams
Next time those Tea/GOP phonies gaze off in the distance to claim kinship with the Founders, remind (them) who really did win that Revolution and write that Bill of Rights: Those hemp-growing, tree-hugging, corporate-hating deistic free loving and free thinking present-at-the-creation Americans (who) believed above all that the Truth would keep us free.

Howard Zinn

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A Peoples History of the United States ~ Howard Zinn, History Is A Weapon

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This great book should really be read by everyone. It is difficult to describe why it so great because it both teaches and inspires. You really just have to read it. We think it is so good that it demands to be as accessible as possible. Once you've finished it, we're sure you'll agree. In fact, years ago, we would offer people twenty dollars if they read the book and didn't think it was completely worth their time. Of all the people who took us up on it, no one collected.

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Read it free here

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"Waiting for 'Superman'": Can public education be saved?

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  • "Inconvenient Truth" director goes back to school in an explosive new film that mingles hope and outrage.
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  • Grading 'Waiting for Superman'
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Andrew O'Hehir, Salon

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Oscar-winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim -- yes, "An Inconvenient Truth" was Al Gore's movie in the public mind, but Guggenheim actually directed it -- has had one of those epiphanies so ordinary and indeed ubiquitous that if you're reading this sentence you've probably had it too. He sent his children to school.

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That changes a person in many ways. Suddenly, the long-running debates around American public education, which can seem to childless people like a bottomless sinkhole of good intentions (not unlike the Middle East's endless "peace process"), assume an urgent present-tense importance. Furthermore, you rapidly discover that whatever your philosophy about education in general might be, you'll happily ignore it in favor of whatever option seems best for your own kids. So it was that Guggenheim, who made a documentary in 1999 celebrating the dedication of public-school teachers, found himself driving past several Los Angeles public schools on the way to dropping off his kids at an elite private school, an experience that forms the basis for his new movie, "Waiting for 'Superman.'"

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Grading 'Waiting for Superman', Dana Goldstein, The Nation

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  • Here's what you see in Waiting for Superman, the new documentary that celebrates the charter school movement while blaming teachers unions for much of what ails American education: working- and middle-class parents desperate to get their charming, healthy, well-behaved children into successful public charter schools.
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  • Here's what you don't see: the four out of five charters that are no better, on average, than traditional neighborhood public schools (and are sometimes much worse); charter school teachers, like those at the Green Dot schools in Los Angeles, who are unionized and like it that way; and noncharter neighborhood public schools, like PS 83 in East Harlem and the George Hall Elementary School in Mobile, Alabama, that are nationally recognized for successfully educating poor children.
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Black Leaders Oppose New Rules on Access to Career Colleges

The so-called "Gainful Employment" rule would make entire programs ineligible for federal loans and grants if they fail to meet a broad new standard that has little to do with academic quality.

Michael K. Frisby, Los Angeles Sentinel/New America Media

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African American civil rights, business and political leaders are opposing U.S. Department of Education regulations that would limit access to career colleges for many minorities by cutting off federal loans and grants at some of the for-profit learning institutions.

Among those voicing concerns about the regulations are Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, founder/CEO of Rainbow PUSH Coalition; Willie Gary, one the nation's leading trial lawyers; Harry Alford , President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce; Randal Pinkett, Chairman and CEO of BCT Partners; and 12 of the 39 voting members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

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Washington Post Will Doggedly Pursue Both Sides Of 'Should Gay Teenagers Commit Suicide?' Debate

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  • You did know that there are two completely rational sides to the debate over teens committing suicide because of homophobic bullying, didn't you?
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  • Special Report | Making Schools Safer for Gay Students
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Jason Linkins, Huffington Post

As I deeply enjoy hearing the tortured explanations behind the stupid editorial decisions made by the Washington Post, I have to applaud Pam Spaulding for this catch. See, previously, the WaPo thought it would be a good idea to run an editorial from anti-gay bigot Tony Perkins on National Coming Out Day, decrying the gay-agenda-baking behind organizations like GLSEN's stance against gay teenagers being hounded to suicide by homophobes. Apparently, the effort to keep members of the LGBT community from killing themselves amounts to political "exploitation," which is obviously much more terrible than teenage suicide.

See, the Post is just diligently exploring both sides of the issue! You did know that there are two completely rational sides to the debate over teens committing suicide because of homophobic bullying, didn't you? On the one hand, Dan Savage wants such teenagers to know that "it gets better." But on the other hand, should it get better? Maybe it should get worse! Maybe more teenagers should kill themselves! The Washington Post hopes to figure this out, someday.

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Special Report | Making Schools Safer for Gay Students, David Culver, ed., Evergreene Digest
At this moment when we have the nation's attention, we must make three points crystal clear:
•    The status quo is unacceptable, and we must improve school climate with respect to LGBT youth NOW;
•    There are things each of us can do — proven solutions that make a concrete difference in the lives of young people; and
•    Everyone can and must take part in affecting this vital change.

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The Status Quo Is Unacceptable

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  • At this moment when we have the nation's attention, we must make three points crystal clear:
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  • The status quo is unacceptable, and we must improve school climate with respect to LGBT youth NOW;
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  • There are things each of us can do — proven solutions that make a concrete difference in the lives of young people; and
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  • Everyone can and must take part in affecting this vital change.
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  • Special Report: Making Schools Safer for Gay Students
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Eliza Byard, Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)

The tragic news of the past six weeks has been difficult for all of us working to improve the lives of young people. I am so grateful to all of you for your hard work and tremendous support as we continue our efforts to make schools safer for all students.

The horrible truth is that today's front-page news is not that different from the daily reality in any school year. I and my colleagues on the GLSEN staff, along with our many local and national partners, have been working to change that reality for many years.

At this moment when we have the nation's attention, we must make three points crystal clear:

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  • The status quo is unacceptable, and we must improve school climate with respect to LGBT youth NOW;
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  • There are things each of us can do — proven solutions that make a concrete difference in the lives of young people; and
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  • Everyone can and must take part in affecting this vital change.
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Below are a few examples of how you and others can be part of this national movement to change and save lives:

•    Safe Space Campaign: Promote visible support for LGBT students in secondary schools nationwide by sending a GLSEN Safe Space Kit to your school. The single most important first line of defense for young people in crisis is a network of visibly supportive adults at school, in their community and at home — this campaign ensures that.
•    Ally Week: Join the student-led movement to identify allies in the effort to end anti-LGBT bullying. This year, Ally Week is October 18 to 22.
•    Federal legislation: Call your Senators and Member of Congress to build support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Student Non-Discrimination Act.
•    Claim Your Rights: Enlist the support of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education by reporting incidents of anti-LGBT discrimination at school.
•    No Name-Calling Week: Produced in partnership with the National Association of Elementary School Principals, No Name Calling Week lesson plans have helped tens of thousands of elementary and middle schools lay the foundation for safer schools for all in the older grades.

GLSEN's programs touch all facets of school life, supporting school communities as they seek to create and nurture a culture of respect in which all students can thrive.

In the midst of this current crisis, I awoke yesterday to the news that the Washington Post had published a piece by Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council attacking GLSEN and our work. This highly offensive screed rehashed old, vitriolic nonsense and added the outrageous charge that we are exploiting recent tragedies to push a homosexual agenda upon schools to "redefine the family."

I'm pleased to report that the Washington Post has published our response this morning, in the same space that Perkins' scurrilous attacks appeared yesterday (Oct 12). And our response comes from the one person perhaps most qualified to attest to GLSEN's motives, purpose and dedication to this work: GLSEN Board Member Sirdeaner Walker.

I believe her response rings out loud and clear. I am proud of the hard work, the heart and the clarity of purpose that enabled my colleagues and I to earn Sirdeaner's trust and partnership. We will continue our work to ensure every student in this country is safe, respected and supported, and do all that we can to provide these students with a fair chance at becoming the amazing individuals they were born to be.

As always, I thank you so much for your support and partnership.

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Special Report | Making Schools Safer for Gay Students, David Culver<>, ed., Evergreene Digest
At this moment when we have the nation's attention, we must make three points crystal clear:
•    The status quo is unacceptable, and we must improve school climate with respect to LGBT youth NOW;
•    There are things each of us can do — proven solutions that make a concrete difference in the lives of young people; and
•    Everyone can and must take part in affecting this vital change.



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