Tag Archives: teaching

High School History Students and the Federalists

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 4.53.20 PMGreetings all – while it would be cool if all I did all day was bang out Tweets and post pics to Instagram, I do have to earn a living. And…since I do not see eye to eye with the powers that be in the Ivory Tower (and they don’t see eye to eye with me…) I teach AP US History (and other stuff) privately here in Los Angeles. I answer to no one and I don’t give a shit about tenure. It’s good work if you can get it.

Here’s something I have noticed. High school kids really relate to the Early Republic Federalists. At first this struck me as odd…I mean, in general, they seem so…government. I would expect them to gravitate toward the idealism of Thomas Jefferson. But no. Centralization? Check. National Bank? Check, Internal Improvements? Check. Tariffs? Check.

I asked around about this and what I found is that perhaps the kids are latching on to the idea of stability, logic, and rationality – on clear ideas: solutions to problems, when their own futures are pretty uncertain. I’m not entirely convinced that any movement or faction can take the credit for any of these things, including the Federalists. But it just seems that this is how kids understand and make sense of the Federalists in the most general way.

This is just an observation…what do you all think? I am especially interested in hearing from other high school history teachers.

With compliments,


For My Adjunct Friends – Just a Suggestion…

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.27.47 AMA few days ago, poet Cameron Conaway published “An Open Letter from your Adjunct Professor.” In it he explained why, after warmly thanking his students, he left his position as an adjunct at Penn State Brandywine. You can read the piece for yourself. It will come as no shock to you (if you are familiar with my position on the hiring practices of our institutions of higher education) that I wholeheartedly endorse Conaway’s decision. In short, he felt morally obligated to leave an institution designed to generate profit while undervaluing talent, teaching, and by implication…learning.

As you may know, I turned my back on the life of an adjunct after a short stint at the University of California, Riverside. In the spirit of complete transparency, I will admit that I took the job in the first place as a feeble attempt to get a step closer to the elusive tenure track…pay my dues, so to speak, in hopes of better things to come.

But let’s be honest, the odds were stacked overwhelmingly against that ever happening. To make matters worse, after doing the calculations (which was an effort to be sure – math was never my strong suit) it turned out I was making less than minimum wage as an adjunct professor. They didn’t even pay for parking. Sheesh.

And the corporate university system has us all by the short hairs.  There is an abundance of highly qualified candidates and only a few positions available in any given year. Even the part-time non-tenure track adjunct type jobs are in short supply – so you can take what they offer or fuck off. Well…I decided to fuck off. And it was a wise decision. Like Conaway, I no longer felt like propping up a system while simultaneously being crushed by it.

Allow me to suggest something to those of you who are hanging on your adjunct edu-sweatshop teaching jobs. It is easy to place blame on the system. It’s easy to whine about having to seek secondary employment, go on public assistance, and eat ramen noodles when it is their fault. It is easy to lament your meager salary and zero benefits when the football players have climate-control lockers. But if you keep your pitiful soul-crushing wage-slave job you are just as much to blame as the corporation university itself. Here’s a novel idea for my adjunct colleagues: QUIT. Everybody. All of you. Just quit.

What will they do then?

With compliments and hasta la victoria siempre,


They Can’t All Be Bad

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 7.09.28 AMAlas, we have reached that time of the year when many in the teaching profession will vent their frustrations on the usual social media platforms – they will note how much they hate grading, how stupid their students are, and how they can’t wait for the term to be over. Of course, I understand that things can get a little hectic around now, but without naming names, I ask: what did you think you were getting into when you signed on to be a teacher?

With that question in mind I would like to take a moment and congratulate my many students who did exceptional work this year, who wrote insightful essays and asked probing questions, who worked beyond what was required of them because they thought they might just learn something.

Well done my young friends. It has been a pleasure being your teacher.

With compliments,


PS – have a bitchen’ summer and I’ll see ya next year!