Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Celebrating Independence: America's Banner (Honolulu, 1845)

The following poem was penned by an anonymous sailor from the forecastle of the American brig William C. Nye in Honolulu Harbor in 1845. The piece was published in Honolulu in Rev. Samuel C. Damon's monthly newspaper, 'The Friend.' we share this with our readers and friends as we pause with our fellow Americans around the world in celebration of our independence and freedoms on July 4.

The flag of our nation waves proudly on high,

Our magnificent streamers are sweeping the sky

And the proud bird of freedom now soaring afar,

Is illuminated by the radiance of liberty's star.

On the bright azure vault in rich beauty above,

O'er our land it is floating, the land that we love,

O'er that land that our fathers long fought to secure,

Where the real fires of freedom burn brilliant and pure.

As that banner unfurled proudly kisses the skies,

So the nation in grandeur was destined to rise,

Till at length on the summit of glory we rest,

A vast nation of nobles, a world at the west.

By the strong bond of freedom, united we stand,

With our glory unsullied, immoral and grand,

While our name and our banner will ever convey,

To the realms of the earth our omnipotent sway.

But, that sway is not despotic, our just laws are those,

Made for freemen's protection from insolent foes;

Made to shelter the weak from the strong arm of spoil,

And secure to the laborer the fruit of his toil.

We do not wish for conquest, we strive not to gain

By our arms, or our gold, wither island or main,

But we ardently hope that our "liberty tree,"

Long shall wave its broad boughs o'er the sons of the free.

From the masts of our barks as they roam o'er the waves,

From hills that look down on our forefathers graves,

From the temples of freedom that proudly aspire,

Like our own monarch bird, though far prouder and higher;

Now our stripes and our stars to the breezes are flung,

Though the bowstrings of war by our land are unstrung;

And ourselves, while our grandeur gleams proudly and far,

Rest secure in our homes, 'neath our own natal star.

May this banner, now kissed by the breezes of heaven,

Float long o'er those shores, (by no despot e're riven,)

Be the "signa" of freedom, and tyranny's fall,

While united we stand, till divided we fall.

National Council for History Education: Sen. Robert Byrd 1917-2010

We received the following message from the executive director of the National Council for History Education just this morning:

"With respect we mark the passing of Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. In his long years of service, he was a tireless advocate of history education and was the primary force behind the Teaching American History grant program that has done so much for history education professional development.

"We have set up a section of our web site to honor the late senator's efforts, and encourage you, our members, to send us your thoughts and comments regarding his accomplishments in history education.

"Please send your remarks to Mary Malicki at Include your name and the school or institution with which you are affiliated."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Incomplete Standards, by Will Fitzhugh of The Concord Review

The new national standards are too timid to recommend that high school students read complete history (or other nonfiction) books, or that high school students should write serious research papers, like the Extended Essays required for the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

Even the College Board, when it put together "101 books for the college-bound student" included only four or five nonfiction books, and none was a history book like Battle Cry of Freedom, or Washington's Crossing.

For many many years it has been taboo to discuss asking our students to read complete nonfiction books and write substantial term papers. Not sure why...

In fact, since the early days of Achieve's efforts on standards, no one in the Ed Hierarchy has taken a stand in recommending serious history research papers for high school students, and nonfiction books have never made the cut either.

Since 1987 or so it has seemed just sensible to me that, as long as colleges do assign history and other nonfiction books on their reading lists, and they also assign research papers, perhaps high school students should read a nonfiction book and write a term paper each year, to get in academic shape, as it were.

After all, in helping students prepare for college math, many high schools offer calculus. For college science, high school students can get ready with biology, chemistry and physics courses. To get ready for college literature courses, students read good novels and Shakespeare plays. Students can study languages and government and even engineering and statistics in their high schools, but they aren't reading nonfiction books and they aren't writing research papers.

The English departments, who are in charge of reading and writing in the high schools, tend to assign novels, poetry, and plays rather than nonfiction books, and they have little interest in asking for serious research papers either.

For 23 years, I have been publishing exemplary history research papers by high school students from near and far [39 countries so far], and it gradually became clearer to me that perhaps most high school students were not being asked to write them.

In 2002, with a grant from the Shanker Institute, I was able to commission (the only) study of the assignment of history term papers in U.S. public high schools, and we found that most students were not being asked to do them. This helped to explain why, even though The Concord Review is the only journal in the world to publish such academic papers, more than 19,000 of the 20,000 U.S. public high schools never submitted one.

The nonfiction readings suggested in the new national standards, such as The Declaration of Independence, Letter From Birmingham Jail, and one chapter (column) from The Federalist Papers, would not tax high school students for more than an hour, much less time than they now spend on Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, and the like. What would the equivalent be for college preparation in math: long division? decimals?

High school graduates who arrive at college without ever having read a complete nonfiction book or written a serious term paper, even if they are not in remedial courses (and more than one million are each year, according to the Diploma to Nowhere report), start way behind their IB and private school peers academically, when it comes to reading and writing at the college level.

Having national standards which would send our high school graduates off to higher education with no experience of real term papers and no complete nonfiction books doesn't seem the right way to make it likely that they will ever get through to graduation.


"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
Consortium for Varsity Academics® [2007]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007;
Varsity Academics®

Honolulu Star Advertiser: Board of Education Eyes New Study Norms

The Board of Education is expected to adopt common national standards for Hawaii public schools today as part of a push to standardize what students across the country learn and better compare school performance. If approved, Hawaii schools will start following the new standards in the 2011 school year. At least nine other states already have adopted the standards, which the Obama administration has endorsed as a key step in improving education in the United States.

Read the full story by clicking this link.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Donation Supports Hawaii Students in National History Day National Competition


(Laie, HI)—Hawaii Reserves, Inc. is supporting the pursuit of academic excellence for students in Koolau Loa. A sizeable donation will help support 23 students who qualified for the National History Day competition in Washington, D.C. this month. There are 50 students statewide who are competing nationally.

“We’ve supported Koolau Loa students in this program in years past because we are impressed with the rigors of the competition and how well our local kids are performing,” said R. Eric Beaver, President of Hawaii Reserves, Inc. “Part of our philosophy is to honor the past, so we appreciate the dedication of our young people to take up history and compete among the nation’s brightest.”

Click here for the full story.