I know that Ted Talks are the more popular brand, but I prefer Big Think videos. I think they’re more interesting and don’t use that fake tone of voice which Ted Talks favor. I use them to get books suggestions and to get other people’s takes on what’s going on in the world and the political, scientific, and philosophical thought.
I wanted to share out this particular video for two reasons. The first is that it is on Free Speech, especially in regard to Free Speech on campus which is a hot button issue these days. Free Speech has always been an important part of American history. It was one of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. The concept of Freedom of Speech became to be considered vital during the Age of Enlightenment. It is best expressed in this well known statement (although often misattributed quote click on it to find out more). I can’t say that I’ve shown this kind of devotion, but I do say it to myself and try to live by the spirit of it.
The second reason I want to share this video is historical. I must say that I don’t agree with some of Jonathan Zimmerman’s historical generalities at the beginning, but I think it’s worth watching the whole thing anyway. However, the main point I want to emphasize is his description of a guest speaker he had come to his class. He invited Mary Beth Tinker one of the plaintiffs in the Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District. For those of you who don’t know this was an Iowa case who went to the Supreme Court.
To sum up the Des Moines school district attempted to stop students from wearing arm bands to protest the Vietnam War. The ACLU backed them in a lawsuit and won in a ruling since very broadly applied. It is the source for the quote you may have heard about from Justice Fortas that “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
Not Just the Chosen People
While this case is often cited I’m very impressed with the fact that Zimmerman had the inspiration to track down Tinker to get her story on what happened. Also that, according to Tinker, that she still continued to support free speech for all. She rightly points out that you have to be aware that ALL free speech will potentially negatively effect someone. There isn’t one side that is absolutely right and that is the only one who deserves to be heard. Even more so that it’s dangerous to censor speech because it is the only power many people have and once you start doing that, no matter who you think you are protecting, it will eventually hurt those without power. Frankly, I was kind of surprised that she seemed so reasoned about the whole experience, but it sounds like she has taken an almost accidental start into something with deeply held beliefs. I think she just might be someone who really would be willing to “defend to the death your right to say it.”
I also wanted to share this because so much general history stops with the important part, the big important change someone makes, and it never tells you what happened to the people afterward. I’m glad to know Tinker is still out there and still fighting the good fight. This important case is a landmark in Iowa History and Iowa’s role in national history. Here’s his “talk” about it.” My biggest complaint about the video is that it doesn’t actually have Tinker talking instead of just Zimmerman telling about her. But I’m really so glad the story is out there at all that I’ll overlook it.
Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , LinkedIn , SlideShare, and Academia.edu . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.
As part of its ongoing efforts to preserve, honor, and share the history of the Iowa School for the Blind and Sight Saving School, the Mary Ingalls Society has identified a section of the local cemetery where students from the school were buried. They have determined the names of these students. As we previously reported, they raised funds for a marker. They successfully raised the amount and now the marker is in place.
You’re Invited To Vinton
The Mary Ingalls Society cordially invites you to a memorial dedication of 11 former students of The Iowa College for the Blind in Vinton, Iowa. A short committal service will take place on Sunday, October 16, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. at Evergreen Cemetery, 1002 E 10th Street, Lot 31, Vinton. These graves had remained unmarked until recent research led to the identity of the students buried there. Thanks to the generosity of many donors, a granite monument and headstones will now mark their place of rest. Local historian Rich Farmer will lead a cemetery tour following the service. We would like to include the families of these students from Eastern Iowa listed below, but we need your help locating them:
Attend Underground Railroad workshop at Preserve Iowa Summit
Winterset – June 27
Discover the history of the Underground Railroad in Iowa and explore the Hitchcock House in Lewis during the third annual Preserve Iowa Summit in Winterset June 25-27.The UGRR workshop will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, June 27, and is part of the summit registration package. Individuals may also register for the workshop separately. The keynote speaker is Matthew Pinsker, the Pohanka Chair of Civil War History at Dickinson College, who will also lead a presentation about online teaching and research resources. A second presentation will focus specifically on the history of the UGRR in Madison County.The “2015 Preserve Iowa Summit: The Power of Presentation” is the premier statewide annual conference for historic preservation in Iowa and is coordinated by DCA’s State Historic Preservation Office and the Madison County Historic Preservation Commission. Register on-line for the entire summit or the UGRR workshop through June 19.
It’s been an on-going issue that I’ve posted about multiple times. Due to funding cuts the microfilming and preservation of Iowa newspapers effectively stopped in 2009. These efforts were headed up by the State Library of Iowa. This has been of great concern of historians around the state. Once these newspapers are gone they are almost impossible to track down. It’s also a matter of beating the clock because most newspapers have gone to using cheaper paper and ink. While this choice saves them money and allows them to say they are going green (which is true, these inks and papers are better for the environment), but it also means they break down much quicker than newspapers from previous decades.
So it is with something of shock that Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs basically turned down money to restart the project that was in the process of being approved via a bill by the General Assembly. According to the story below they are in the process of doing a study on the current state of all collections and want to develop a plan going forward before they act. Personally, I’m all for plans and as papers create digital only content new methods will hopefully be developed to capture them. That said they have such a big backlog of paper copies of newspapers now, I would definitely have taken the earmarked money. You can never tell if something like that will be offered again and my guess is that it won’t be.
The study will examine all the collections held by the historical society and prioritize where money will be spent. It will specifically look at the newspaper plan and will consider whether to keep producing microfilm or to move to a digital format of preservation. Microfilm is still the gold standard for preservation. It has a proven track record to be stable over a long period of time with no additional work necessary (that’s not true for work copies, but preservation copies that are merely stored and sometimes copied). Microfilm is also a format that even if no microfilm reader is available you could jerry-rig something fairly easily to retrieve the data. Microfilm is also relatively easy to transform into a digital copy for access purposes. Digital preservation can allow for easier and wider decimation of the preserved copies. However, media formats haven’t shown long term storage capabilities. It requires a lot of work to keep digital records accessible in programs that people can still use. For example, I’ve seen news stories about research being done on the moon landing that required people to re-enter data from paper print outs since the original digital files are no longer accessible. Even when digital information is kept up to date, each time you have to update to a new file standard to keep things accessible some small amount of the data is lost just by the nature of the process. The study also looking at what is already being done by other entities to save copies, especially newspapers themselves. While it may be better to spend funds on resources that haven’t been preserved at all, preservation done by private companies is always at risk and well worth duplicating by public institutions if funding is available.
So in short, I’m going to keep an eye on this developing story and you should too. I hope we hear more about this soon.
Here at Trundlebed Tales we mainly focus on Laura Ingalls Wilder, literature, and social history, besides a few other things that I find interesting. My goal is to publish a blog post every other day with one updated classic post each week. I keep a tab on the post popular blog posts and I thought you might be interested to see what were the top 10 posts this past year here on Trundlebed Tales. Number one is the post with the most views of these 10 and then we descend down. Most of these posts are new this year, but a few past favorites are still in the top 10.
We are still celebrating the 50th anniversary of World War II. 50 years ago in 1944 was the year of D-Day. Next year will bring the anniversaries of V-E Day and V-J Day from 1945. Today marks the 54th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
I can’t even imagine the horror of that day. The attack, the oil burning on the water, the men caught in pockets of air under the water, whose knocking was slowly stopping and when they tried to rescue them the air often escaped when they cut in before they could get a big enough hole to get them out. Still we were lucky the Japanese sunk most of the ships in the harbor and we could raise them and use them again. Black tears, drops of oil, still slowly rise off the USS Arizona.
I had a personal connection with the Pearl Harbor attack. My grandmother always kept her high school yearbook. It meant a lot to her. She’d put silver stars on the boys in it who had been wounded in the war and gold stars on the ones who were killed. It included a photo of James Herring. He’d been in Iowa City High a few years ahead of her and he was killed in the attack. Every year I put flowers on his grave at Memorial Day. Remember to spare a thought today for Herring and all the members of the armed forces who fell that day.
At What Cheer Flea Market, I found a very interesting book. It’s a text book about Iowa government and has quite a bit on one-room schools. The author is George Chandler then the Superintendent of city schools in Osage, Iowa. Below are some selections from this 1898 book (which is in the Public Domain).
The selections below (which I’ve marked with the page they came from) explain how the governance of one-room schools in Iowa operated. Your state probably had a similar set of guidelines. How similar depended on your state and their attitude towards education. Within the text below in several places I’ve added an Editor’s Note in square brackets [Ed. Note: xxx] to help clarify some point or to offer commentary or ask a question. All such notes are my own and not found in the original text.
Chandler, George. Iowa and the Nation. Chicago: Flanagan, 1898.
From Chapter 2 “The Township – Continued”
School Township – The school township is a division for school purposes, and its boundaries must always
be the same as those of some civil township. The public schools are free to all residents of the state between the ages of 5 and 21 years. Each school township is a school district, and the business connected with the management of its schools is done by a board of directors.
Sub-districts – Each school township is separated into as many sub-districts as may be necessary, and a member of the board of directors, called a sub-director, is chosen from each sub-district by its qualified voters. The sub-directors of a township are chosen on the first Monday in March of each year for a term of one year, and all the sub-directors of the township constitute the board of directors.
Township Meeting – On the second Monday in March, the qualified voters of the school township meet to transact business of a general nature connected with the management of the schools in the township. If it is necessary to build a new school-house in the township, the money must be raised by a tax voted at this meeting. If any school property is to be disposed of, the sale must be ordered at this meeting. [Ed. note: this doesn’t give an indication of what happens if an emergency arises if, for instance, a school burns down midyear and must be replaced.]
Board of Directors – On the third Monday in March, the sub-directors meet and organize as a board of directors by choosing one of their number president. They then proceed to the transaction of such business as may come before them. They allow all just claims against the district [Ed. note: meaning debts or bills], hire teachers, estimate the amount of money to be raised for the support of schools and provide for building and repairing of schoolhouses. They make such regulations for the good of the schools of the district as authorized by law.
Officers of the School Board – The president presides at all meetings of the board and of the school township, signs all orders for the payment of money from the district treasury, and all contracts made by the board. At the regular meeting of the board held on the third Monday in September of each year, a secretary and a treasurer are chosen for one year. The duties of these officers are such as their titles indicate.
Independent Districts – Cities, incorporated towns, and villages having not less than 100 inhabitants may be organized as independent school districts In districts composed of cities of the first class and cities under special charter, the boards of directors consist of 7 members, and in all other city and town districts, of 5 members, 1/3 of the number as nearly as possible, being chosen every year. In all city and town districts, a treasurer is chosen annually by the qualified electors, at the time of the election of directors. The secretary is chosen by the board of directors at the September meeting, and he cannot be a member or employee of the board. In such districts, the directors are chosen on the second Monday and their term begins on the third Monday in March.
Rural Districts – By the provisions of a former law rural independent districts were formed in district townships, each district having a board of 3 directors, one being chosen on the second Monday in March for a term of 3 years. [Ed. note: This would remain the law all through the age of one-room schools and one-room school district decisions, including tax, curriculum, etc. were decided by these very local, three person boards. My great-grandfather served on his local one. It was nearly 50 years after this book that the so far unstoppable serge of school consolidation began by requiring all schools to be part of a K-12 district. One-room school districts were forced to become part of an independent school district with a high school, mostly in some nearby town. This took decisions (and money) out of immediately local hands. While it didn’t necessarily mean one-room schools had to close (a handful of public one-room schools in Iowa are open yet), when these larger school districts were given the choice to continue to use the money to keep one-room schools open or to take the money and spend it on something they wanted, guess which option won and schools were closed.]
School funds – The money for the support of schools
is kept in 3 separate funds in each district. These are known as:
the teachers’ fund (which is used for the payment of teachers)
the schoolhouse fund (used in building and repairing schoolhouses and purchasing school grounds);
and the contingent fund (which is used in the purchase of supplies and the payment of incidental expenses of the school).
Nearly all of the money needed for the support of any school is raised by a tax levied on the taxable property of the district in which the school is located. [Ed. note: I replaced pairs of commas with parenthesis and bullets in the second sentence because it was visually confusing. I hope this is easier to read. ]
Teachers’ Fund – The teachers’ fund is derived from the semi-annual apportionment which includes the interest on the permanent school fund of the state, fines and forfeitures of various kinds, and a country school tax of not less than 1 mill, nor more the 3 mills [Ed. Note: A mill is 1/1000th of a dollar and is often used as a rate of taxes on accessed value of taxable property], on a dollar which is levied by the board of supervisors on the taxable property of the county. The money paid by nonresident pupils as tuition for the privilege of attending school in which they do not reside also forms a part of this fund. In addition to these sums, the directors of each district on the third Monday in March, or between that time and the third Monday in May of each year, vote to raise a tax for teachers’ fund upon the property of their district, not to exceed 15 dollars for each person of school age, except as provided for in the next paragraph.
Contingent Fund – The contingent fund is raised by taxation on the property of each school district, and is estimated by the board of directors at the time of estimating the teachers’ fund. The amount raised for contingent expenses cannot exceed 5 dollars per pupil, except in thinly settle districts where that amount and 15 dollars per pupil for teachers’ fund is not sufficient to maintain the
schools for six months of 20 days each as required by law. Seventy-five dollars contingent fund and 270 dollars teachers’ fund, including the semi-annual apportionment, may be raised for the support of each school in the state every year.
Schoolhouse Fund – The Schoolhouse fund is derived from the tax upon the property of any district in which a school house is to be built or repaired. This tax is voted by the electors of the sub-district or school township, and property of the entire township. At the sub-district meeting held on the first Monday in March, the electors may vote to raise a certain sum of money for the erection of a schoolhouse. If the electors at the school township meeting, the following Monday, refuse to grant any or all of this amount, the tax is levied on the property of the sub-district, not to exceed 15 mills on a dollar of valuation. As a rule, the tax for schoolhouse purposed is levied upon the property of the whole district and expended in the different sub-districts as occasion may require.