Tag Archives: Joyce Rankin Colorado State Board of Education

Leadville News – June 24

Who Wins the War? Interpreting the Facts

By Joyce Rankin, Colorado Board of Education

Who won the Civil War? Is your answer based on “facts” or your, or someone else’s, interpretation?

Joyce Rankin

Colorado Board of Education Rep. Joyce Rankin

Last month the State Board of Education reviewed and voted upon Social Studies Standards which include, History, Geography, Economics, and Civics.

The word “interpret” appeared 90 times somewhere in the Social Studies revised document. The word “interpret”, defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as: “to conceive in the light of individual belief, judgment, or circumstance.”

Researcher and developer of K-12 mathematics curriculum, Paul Goldenberg, asserts that “Wrong answers are often correct answers to an entirely reasonable alternative interpretation of a question.” Children, because of their limited experience and knowledge base, may “interpret” a situation quite differently from an adult. Add their access to today’s most popular research sources, “Wikipedia” and “Google”, and you may find unexpected answers to seemingly obvious questions.

As an example, take a middle school assignment: “Who won the Civil War?”

One of the Essential Skills, under the new Social Studies Standards for eighth grade, is to “Interpret information as historians and draw conclusions based on the best analysis using primary and secondary sources.”

The first challenge is understanding the definition of Primary and Secondary sources. When the eighth-grade student “Googles” these terms he finds:

A primary source “provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event”, including, “Internet communications via email, blogs, listservs, and newsgroups.”

Secondary sources “describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon,…”

So if the thirteen-year-old uses “Google” and searches on “The South Won the Civil War.”  The first article that appears is from the New Yorker, (2015) with the title, The South Won the Civil War. The first photo caption, “Southernization of American politics,” cites civil and voting rights as the reason the south won the war.

The second article is from antiwar.com, advertised as “your best source for antiwar news and viewpoints,” and titled “How the South Won the Civil War.” 

The process the student used fits the Standards. However, the conclusion is incorrect.

History Professor Terry Jones of the University of Louisiana wrote a piece in the New York Times titled, Could the South have won the Civil War? His article provides many “what if” scenarios that could have changed history. Might a 13-year-old use as a primary source?

How would a teacher evaluate the student’s report when the process was followed, yet the outcome was incorrect? The board approved the new Social Studies Standards by a single vote.

Should we be teaching facts or interpretations?

Joyce Rankin, a retired teacher, is on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District, which includes Lake County. She writes the monthly column, “Across the Street” to share with constituents in her district.  The Department of Education, where the State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the Capitol.

Leadville News – May 10

CMC Grad: ‘Truck Camping’ to a College Degree

By Mike McKibbin, Special Contributor to Leadville Today

Earning a college degree is tough, but doing so while enduring subzero winter temperatures at more than 10,000 feet of elevation in a pickup truck might be enough to discourage many people.

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Mortarboards fly through the air as Colorado Mountain College graduates celebrate after the college’s May 4 Leadville and Chaffee County graduation at the Climax Molybdenum Leadership Center at the Leadville campus. Photo: Andy Colwell/Special to Leadville Today

With help from Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Leadville staff and programs, Thomas Schoonover stayed the course. He received his associate degree in natural resource management on Friday, May 4.

Schoonover, 29, enrolled in CMC classes in the fall of 2016 to make a career change. He chose CMC Leadville for the natural resource management program and smaller class sizes.

“I went to (the University of Colorado Denver) about 10 years ago in 2007 and didn’t like the large class sizes,” Schoonover said. “And I read about the hands-on experience you get in the natural resource management program, which really appealed to me.”

Schoonover found an apartment in Leadville for his first year but had some family health issues that put a pinch on his personal finances. He moved into a trailer for a couple months last fall, but that plan didn’t work well in the winter. “So I was just truck camping for a while,” he said.

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Colorado Mountain College graduate Thomas Schoonover, right, hugs Rachel Pokrandt, vice president and campus dean of CMC Leadville and Chaffee County, as Schoonover receives his associate degree in natural resource management during the campus’s May 4 commencement ceremonies at the Climax Molybdenum Leadership Center at the Leadville campus. Photo: Andy Colwell/Special to Leadville Today

So supportive

Skip Lee, dean of student affairs at CMC Leadville, and Katy Warner, director of the college’s natural resource management program, learned he needed a better housing solution for the winter. Warner said she had been Schoonover’s supervisor for about a year and had always found him to be “someone who, in everything he does, gives his best effort.”

When Schoonover missed some classes, Warner and Lee talked to him and obtained a residential scholarship so the student could live in the residence hall on campus. They also arranged for other resources to help him be successful during his last semester.

“They really helped me be able to hang in there and keep my grades up,” Schoonover said. “I never had co-workers or colleagues before that were so supportive. When you’re in a tough situation like I was, it’s easy to get down on yourself. But the atmosphere at CMC was always great and they kept me on track.”

After graduation, Schoonover plans to work for the natural resource management program’s field institute over the summer. The institute provides paid internship opportunities. Student employees work on environmental projects, interact with environmental professionals and get relevant field and laboratory experience to help prepare them for future education and employment.

Schoonover said he will likely pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in natural resource management somewhere in Colorado or Wyoming.

“We’re really excited to see him walk in graduation and we’re all really proud of him and all other students that have to overcome whatever obstacles and adversity they face,” Warner said several days before graduation.

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Paul Rauschke, retiring Colorado Mountain College associate professor of ski area operations, delivers the commencement address during CMC Leadville and Chaffee County’s May 4 graduation ceremonies at the Climax Molybdenum Leadership Center at the Leadville campus. Photo: Andy Colwell/Special to Leadville Today.