Boomerang Blog

Social Media Scandal, 19th Century Style

It’s a story many of us know all too well. Someone is slandered behind their back. Excluded from social gatherings. Gossiped about. And then they fight back. The consequences get political.   No, we’re not talking about today’s sexual harassment scandals. Peggy O’Neal lived in Andrew Jackson’s time. Jackson emphatically took the side of the common person, a woman looked….Read more

[VIDEO] Soaking the Rich?

    Another tax reform proposal is being debated in Congress. Some Republicans want to get rid of the federal estate tax, while others just want to lower the top rate paid by the wealthiest taxpayers. Some will settle for raising the estate tax to apply to larger estates (currently it’s $5.5 million.)     We’ve talked about the idea….Read more

How a Book Saved the World From Nuclear War

    …and fire is the Devil’s only friend.    American Pie, by Don McLean   Guest post by historian Glenn LeBoeuf   When John F. Kennedy became president in 1961, he ‘inherited’ a C.I.A. operation, the ill-fated ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion of Cuba.   JFK merely had to rubber-stamp the orders to launch and Cuban ex-patriots trained by the CIA….Read more

[VIDEO] What Good Are Report Cards?

When report cards are given is an emotional time for students, parents, and teachers alike. Things like transcripts, Grade Point Averages, and standardized testing means high stakes for everyone.   Teaching, and then measuring learning, is a very complex endeavor. A music teacher, gym teacher and an English teacher have such different pedagogical methods that no one type of evaluation….Read more

Battle Lines Being Drawn: The Politics of Gerrymandering

  How does a party with a minority of votes get a majority of seats in a legislature? Is that how democracy is supposed to work?   The population is counted every ten years and then states re-draw the lines for voting districts. The trouble begins when the state legislature draws lines that favor one political party over another. This….Read more

[VIDEO] What’s Meant By States’ Rights?

  It’s one of those terms that gets thrown around so easily: states’ rights. Across the ideological spectrum, the principle has been invoked by many causes in many places for centuries. Don’t worry, we’ll cut to the historical chase.   Government in America is like the layers of a cake. The national government is supreme in its areas of responsibility,….Read more

What Exactly Is a Constitutional Crisis?

  In December of 2000, more than a month after the election between Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Al Gore, America still had no president-elect.   The electoral vote was tied so that the outcome hinged on Florida. Voting irregularities in Florida’s arcane system meant that thousands of ballots were unclear. So both parties fought bitterly over how to….Read more

Is It Zinnsanity to Teach “A People’s History?”

    Recently, Texas and Arkansas have proposed laws to ban schools from using texts by Howard Zinn, a Boston University history professor who died in 2010.     Why is Zinn so dangerous that he should be banned from school curricula? Here’s a sample, a Zinntilla, if you will:     When the ancestors of the people of these….Read more

Why Are Babies Born in US Citizens, Anyway?

The origins of birthright citizenship, as it’s called, are surprising.   Today, with the uncertain future of American immigration–legal and illegal–we note that the original intent of part of the 14th amendment was actually to shield former slaves.   On the eve of the Civil War, the Supreme Court decided that slaves, and descendants of slaves, were not US citizens….Read more

[VIDEO] Pep Talk for Teachers

      This short video offers a note of encouragement to all teachers who begin the journey again, now with a new group of young people. Each year, we teachers are one year older but our students never age! An eighth-grader is forever an eighth-grader.  That’s why it may seem that the journey gets harder; we age, they don’t.….Read more