Mary Ball Washington and the Challenges of Writing Women’s History

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20170325_maryballwashingtonMary Ball Washington, the Mother of our Founding Father, has received considerable historical attention, but little of it is accurate and much of it is gratuitously hostile. Most of her letters have disappeared, and she left no diary or commonplace book. The stories that have made their way into print about her tell us more about their authors than Mrs. Washington.

In this talk, Martha Saxton, the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience’s 2017 Patrick Henry Fellow, will share new research about Mrs. Washinton’s life and discuss various difficulties inherent in writing about women in this period of history.

This program is co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kent County and Kent County Public Library. Refreshments will be served. For more information, visit kentcountylibrary.org or call 410.778.3636.

Saturday, March 25 | 11am
Chestertown Branch

New Career and Technology Scholarships Available

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midshore scholarship

Mr. Haines Holt and some of the 2016 Roberta B. Holt and Roberta B. Holt Trades Scholarship Recipients (Joniya Copper, Madison Bee, Hunter Joseph, Priya Patel, JamieHetrick).

The Mid-Shore Community Foundation has announced new scholarship opportunities for the 2017/18 Academic Year.  Thanks to generous donors, Career and Technology Scholarships are now available to students in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties.  Area students planning for career and technology fields are invited to apply.  Applications must be completed online at www.mscf.org and the submission deadline is March 31, 2017.  For additional information contact the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, The Bullitt House, 102 East Dover Street, Easton, Maryland 21601, (410) 820-8175.

Creative Time for Grown-Ups: Happiness Hour Returns to KCPL

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201703_happinesshourWhether you describe yourself as an artist or haven’t attempted art since elementary school, Happiness Hour is an invitation for you to explore your powers of creativity. No special talents or previous experience is needed to join us for an hour of dabbling in crafting.

This month, our featured project is Bookmark Collages. We’ll create tiny collages and turn them in to one-of-a-kind bookmarks.

Supplies for coloring will be available, too. As always, you are welcome to bring your own creative project – knitting, drawing, embroidery, and other easily-portable activities all work well at Happiness Hour.

Swap ideas, give encouragement, and leave a little happier than you arrived.

This program will be held at the Chestertown and North County branches. Please register for your preferred session online at kentcountylibrary.org or by calling 410.778.3636.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 | 6pm | Chestertown Branch
Saturday, March 18, 2017 | 11am | North County Branch

March Programs for Kids & Families at KCPL

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20170301_seussIn addition to weekly Storytime programs, March Kent County Public Library will be offering three special programs for kids and families.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!
Wednesday, March 1, 2017 | 5:30pm
Chestertown Branch

Join us for a party like no other. Cake, crafts, and books, oh my! Let’s read stories, sing songs, and celebrate all things Dr. Seuss.

Come one, come all, and join the fun! We’ll jump, skip, bounce, sing and run! Whether it rains, or “weather” it’s sunny, we’ll have lots of good fun that is funny! You should not, would not want to miss, a celebration quite like this! Ages 2 to 6

LEGO Day
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 | 4pm
Chestertown Branch

Build, create, repeat! It’s LEGO time at the library where only your imagination is the limit. All ages welcome.

20170329_smashSuper Smash Bros. Wii U Tournament
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 |3 – 5pm
Chestertown Branch

Are you a fan of Super Smash Bros.? Can you melee with the best of them? Join us for a Smash Bros. tournament and show off your moves! Practice a few rounds and then face off to decide the winner of the coveted Smash trophy! Tournament play will be divided into Beginner and Advanced sections. Trophies will be awarded to the top player from each group. Kids (ages 5+) and teens welcome.REGISTRATION REQUIRED.

For more information or to register for the Super Smash Bros. Wii U Tournament, visit kentcountylibrary.org or call 410.778.3636.

Lawmakers, Educators Push for Less Classroom-testing Time

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Maryland is ranked as the second-worst state in the nation for teacher classroom autonomy, according to the Learning Policy Institute, and testing mandates are a major contributor to this ranking, according to the Maryland State Education Association.

Lawmakers and educators testified Wednesday before the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs committee in favor of the Less Testing, More Learning Act — legislation sponsored by Sen. Roger Manno, D-Montgomery, that would limit standardized testing to 2 percent of class time, or about 21.6 hours for elementary and middle schools and 23.4 hours for high school each school year.

In 2015, The U.S. Department of Education recommended that a student spend no more than 2 percent of their time in class taking required statewide standardized assessments.

“About 21 hours testing or 2 percent of instructional time annually is more than enough time to make sure students are on track to be successful throughout the year,” Betty Weller, president of the Maryland State Education Association and a middle school teacher for Kent County Public Schools said during the hearing.

The bill also repeals statewide social studies assessments both on the middle school and high school levels.

As an alternative, starting during the 2017-2018 school year, each local board of education should design and administer their own social studies assessment as part of the local curriculum, according to the bill.

Manno testified during the hearing that the legislation will allow local committees to be able to determine their own social studies curricula.

About two-thirds of the state Senate — 31 members — are co-sponsors of the bill. The House of Delegates unanimously passed similar legislation last year, according to a Maryland State Education Association press release.

During the 2015-2016 school year, the average student took 249 total hours of standardized tests from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, according to a Maryland State Education Association analysis based on date from the Maryland State Department of Education.

Those hours do not include preparation, in-class tests, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate exams and, in a majority of cases, exams such as the ACT and the SAT are not included, according to the Maryland State Education Association.

Celia Burton, testing coordinator for Prince George’s County Public Schools, said at the hearing that since this past September students have had 71 different types of mandated tests.

In her school district, Burton said, some students are not allowed or able to attend Black History Month programs because of testing for student learning objectives that are used for teacher evaluations. They are being assessed for courses such as math, reading, science, physical education, health, foreign language and band.

“They are required to take one assessment per content area and the questions are more than 30 questions on each of the assessments,” Burton said.

Maryland Parent and Teacher Association President Elizabeth Ysla-Leight also supports the act and said she believes there are many benefits to cutting back on testing and spending more time on learning.

“As a stakeholder … for the Every Student Succeeds Act, we believe that the more active time students spend in the classroom — actually learning — benefits their achievement and … meeting their potential in schools,” Ysla-Leight said. “We believe the benefits is that they’re actually going to be learning as opposed to being assessed on what they already learned.”

Manno also said students being exposed to the arts and physical education in school helps them become well-balanced, and well-rounded to prepare for the future.

“The onerous non-stop grind towards these benchmarks — towards these federal, state benchmarks to prepare them for these tests and for them to perform on a dime during these tests are really getting to inhibit their ability to…be productive, wonderful, flourishing young people who I know we all want to continue to grow and to nurture,” Manno said during the hearing.

Manno emphasized that although the bill will limit testing time, he does support standardized testing.

“There’s a great need for benchmarks and preparation for critical subjects but we’ve, I think, begun to pile up in terms of these tests and as a result kids, who we all know need a rich, diverse, instructional experience and environment, have essentially become slaves to the test,” Manno said.

By Brianna Rhodes

Seven Books Named as Finalists for the 2017 George Washington Prize

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In celebration of George Washington’s 285th birthday, seven books published in 2016 by the country’s most prominent historians have been named finalists for the George Washington Prize. The annual award recognizes the past year’s best-written works on the nation’s founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of early American history.

Created in 2005 by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, and Washington College, the $50,000 George Washington Prize is one of the nation’s largest and most notable literary awards, and this year’s finalists include past Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winners.

The finalists’ books combine depth of scholarship and broad expanse of inquiry with vivid prose that exposes the complexities of our founding narrative.Through compelling storytelling, the authors introduce readers to citizen soldiers and statesmen, artists and frontiersmen, heroes and traitors, loyalists and rebels—the ordinary, the ambitious, and the exceptional men and women who, in the chaos and contradictions of revolution, imagined a different world order and gave shape to a new nation.

Written to engage a wide public audience, the books provide a “go-to” reading list for anyone interested in learning more about George Washington, his contemporaries, and the drama of the revolutionary founding of the United States of America.

The 2017 George Washington Prize finalists are:

T.H. Breen, George Washington’s Journey: The President Forges a New Nation (Simon and Schuster)
Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter S. Onuf, “Most Blessed of the Patriarchs”: Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination (Liveright Publishing)
Jane Kamensky, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (W.W. Norton)
Michael J. Klarman, The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution (Oxford University Press)
Mark Edward Lender and Garry Wheeler Stone, Fatal Sunday: George Washington, the Monmouth Campaign, and the Politics of Battle (University of Oklahoma Press)
Nathaniel Philbrick, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (Viking)
Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 (W.W. Norton)

A distinguished jury comprised of notable historians David Preston, Kathleen DuVal, and Nick Bunker, selected the finalists from a field of nearly 60 books. The winner of the 2017 prize will be announced, and all finalists recognized, at a black-tie gala on Thursday, May 25 at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.More information about the George Washington Prize is available at washcoll.edu/gwbookprize.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHIES

T.H. BREEN is currently the James Marsh Professor-at-large at the University of Vermont. He is the author of 11 books on U.S. history, many of them prizewinners. Recent works include The Marketplace of Revolution and American Insurgents, American Patriots.

ANNETTE GORDON-REED is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello, which also won the 2009 George Washington Prize and the National Book Award. She is the Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School.

PETER S. ONUF is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia and the senior research historian at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies. Onuf also is a cohost for the radio show BackStory with the American History Guys.

JANE KAMENSKY is Professor of History and Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University. She is a historian of early America, the Atlantic world, and the age of revolutions. Her many books include The Exchange Artist, which was a finalist for the 2009 George Washington Prize.

MICHAEL J. KLARMAN is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of the Bancroft Prize-winning From Jim Crow to Civil Rights. He has won numerous awards for his teaching and scholarship, primarily in the areas of Constitutional law and Constitutional history.

MARK EDWARD LENDER is Professor Emeritus of History at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, and the coauthor of A Respectable Army and Citizen Soldier.

GARRY WHEELER STONE is retired as Regional Historian for the State Park Service and Historian for the Monmouth Battlefield State Park with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

NATHANIEL PHILBRICK is the New York Times bestselling author of In the Heart of the Sea, winner of the National Book Award; Mayflower, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Bunker Hill, winner of the New England Book Award; Sea of Glory; The Last StandWhy Read Moby Dick?; and Away Off Shore.

ALAN TAYLOR is the Thomas Jefferson Professor of History at the University of Virginia. He is the author of many acclaimed books in early American history and has twice been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in History. His most recent book, The Internal Enemy, won the Pulitzer Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the 2014 George Washington Prize.

ABOUT THE SPONSORS OF THE GEORGE WASHINGTON PRIZE

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Founded in 1994 by philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is the nation’s leading nonprofit American history education organization. The Institute’s mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources for teachers, students, and the general public. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Organization of American Historians.

For more information: www.gilderlehrman.org.

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Since 1860, more than 85 million visitors have made George Washington’s Mount Vernon the most popular historic home in America. A privately-owned national treasure, Mount Vernon is maintained and operated by the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Since purchasing the estate from the Washington family and assuming stewardship in 1858, the Association has embraced a heroic mission to preserve, protect, and maintain the estate for the American people, relying exclusively on private donations, admission fees, and restaurant and retail proceeds. Through robust education and outreach programs, the Association expands awareness about the exceptional life and character of George Washington, sustaining his legacy through research, interpretation, and public education. In experiences on the estate and through its digital outreach platforms, Mount Vernon strives to preserve George Washington’s place in history as “First in War, First in Peace, and First in the Hearts of His Countrymen.” For more information: www.mountvernon.org.

Washington College was founded in 1782, the first institution of higher learning established in the new republic. George Washington was not only a principal donor to the college, but also a member of its original governing board. He received an honorary degree from the college in June 1789, two months after assuming the presidency. The college’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, which administers the George Washington Prize, is an innovative center for the study of history, culture, and politics, and fosters excellence in the art of written history through fellowships, prizes, and student programs. For more information: www.washcoll.edu.

Maryland Public Schools Drops to 5th in National Survey Ranking

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-Maryland public schools fell to fifth place in Education Week’s national education rankings this year, due in part to achievement gaps between low and high-income students.

A Capital News Service analysis of state education data found the achievement gaps were especially pronounced in counties with the highest success rates.

Education Week ranked Maryland first from 2009 to 2013, until a criteria change in 2015 dropped it to third. The state fell to fourth in 2016 and fifth this year. Education Week did not rank states in 2014.

The achievement gap accounts for 7.3 percent of Education Week’s overall score — and the gap between rich and poor kids is larger in Maryland than most other states. About one-quarter of Maryland students who qualify for subsidized lunches passed the 2016 PARCC exam — the state’s standardized test for Algebra 1 and English 10 – compared with about 40 percent of all students, according to the state Dept. of Education.

In Education Week’s analysis, Maryland’s was 42nd out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., in the category that measures the achievement gap. It’s not unheard of for the highest achieving states to do poorly in that section. For example, Massachusetts – the top state in Education Week’s overall rankings – placed 34th in the achievement gap category.

In Maryland, the counties with the highest PARCC pass rates have some of the largest gaps between rich students and poor students. In those counties, low-income students are still passing the PARCC at higher rates than low-income students in other counties. But their wealthier peers are outscoring them by a much higher margin.

For example, in 2016 Carroll County had the state’s highest PARCC pass rate – 57.7 percent. But only 33.2 percent of poor students passed the tests – an achievement gap of 24.5 percent, the second highest in the state.

By AMANDA SMITH

MD Department of Commerce Awards Washington College an E-Nnovation Grant

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For the second year in a row, Washington College has been awarded a grant from the Maryland Department of Commerce as part of its Maryland

E-Nnovation Initiative (MEI), a program designed to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields. Coupled with gifts of $1 million from donors, the MEI grant of $944,000 will support nearly $2 million for an endowed chair in sustainable food systems for the College’s new Eastern Shore Food Lab.

The MEI grant was made possible by a pledge of $1 million from Daryl Swanstrom ’69, a member of the College’s Board of Visitors and Governors, with transitional funding by board members Edward P. Nordberg ’82, Ann Horner ’80, and Patrick W. Allender P ’11, who helped meet the immediate grant requirements.

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Bill Schindler, shown here teaching students about foraging for foods from trees and plants that grow on campus and nearby, will be the first chair in sustainable food systems.

“Problem-solving and analytical skills are the heart of the liberal arts education. When our students bring those skills to bear on innovative opportunities like the Eastern Shore Food Lab, creative solutions to complex problems are the result,” says College President Sheila Bair. “The funds from our generous donors—Daryl Swanstrom, Ed Nordberg, Ann Horner, and Patrick Allender—and the Maryland E-Nnovation Initiative will help Washington College propel new thinking and action toward creating more sustainable food systems on the Eastern Shore and well beyond.”

The Eastern Shore Food Lab (ESFL) will be an interdisciplinary research, teaching, and innovation laboratory dedicated to studying and experimenting with sustainable food systems, using the Eastern Shore food-shed as its primary context. By studying the resources unique to the region, based on weather, climate, soil chemistry, and microbial biology—and fusing historical foodways with modern technologies—faculty, students, and collaborative researchers will re-envision our food system, from how we define food to how we grow and prepare it. The lab will address issues of food, diet, health, access, sustainability, and human and environmental relationships through innovative teaching and learning, cutting edge research, and meaningful food production. Ultimately, although the lab’s work will spring from the local, the solutions it envisions will be scalable to other food-sheds around the country and the world.

Funded through the MEI grant, the first chair of the ESFL will be Bill Schindler, chair of the Department of Anthropology and associate professor of anthropology. A behavioral science expert in primitive technologies and foodways—food production, dietary health, and cultural meanings of food—Schindler is especially interested in how the ESFL can work as a catalyst to change modern Western perceptions of food.

Created by the General Assembly in 2014, the MEI program aims to spur basic and applied research in scientific and technical fields at the state’s colleges and universities. This year, in addition to Washington College, the University of Maryland-Baltimore, Hood College, and Stevenson University were endowed a total of $8.3 million in four new research professorships. The schools raised $4.3 million in private funding for each chair, and Maryland Commerce approved matching grants of $4 million to support the endowments.

In 2016, Washington College received an MEI grant of $1 million to create a newly endowed position at the Center for Environment & Society, the chief of entrepreneurial science.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Maryland Senator Mikulski and News Commentator Roberts at Washington College

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Former Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski

Two influential and iconic Washington women—former Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski and news commentator and political analyst Cokie Roberts—will kick off a new series at Washington College on Friday, March 3.The event launches a new series of programs commemorating the upcoming centennial of the amendment that gave American women the right to vote.

In “Climbing the Hill,” Roberts will lead a conversation with Mikulski about the changing roles and influence of women in public life over the course of her 40-year congressional career. John Harwood of CNBC and The New York Times will introduce the speakers.

The free, public event, sponsored by the Harwood Lecture Series,is at 5 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. It will be followed by a reception in the Underwood Lobby, and copies of Roberts’ books will be available for purchase and signing.

The Hon. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., served in the U.S. Congress longer than any other woman in American history. At her retirement in 2017, she had represented Maryland for 30 years in the Senate, preceded by 10 in the House of Representatives. The first woman to chair the powerful Appropriations Committee, she began her career in public service as a member of the Baltimore City Council, and while she rose to the heights of power in Congress, she never neglected her Baltimore roots, a commitment that earned her enormous loyalty in her home state. Her legacy includes major achievements in women’s pay equity and healthcare, as well as in advancing political engagement for new generations of American women. In 2015 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She is now professor of public policy at Johns Hopkins University.

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News Commentator and Political Analyst Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts, an acclaimed reporter and commentator for ABC News and National Public Radio, served as NPR’s congressional correspondent for more than 10 years. From 1996-2002 she and Sam Donaldson co-anchored the weekly ABC interview program This Week. In her more than 40 years in broadcasting, she has won three Emmys and has been inducted into the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame. American Women in Radio and Television named her one of the 50 greatest women in the history of broadcasting. A prolific writer, she has written six New York Times bestsellers, several of them on women’s political lives in early America—We Are Our Mother’s Daughters, Founding Mothers, Ladies of Liberty, and Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848-1868.Her children’s book Founding Mothers, illustrated by Caldecott award winner Diane Goode, was also a bestseller, and the children’s version of Ladies of Liberty, also illustrated by Goode, was published in December 2016.

The event, sponsored by the Harwood Series in American Journalism and the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, leads off a new series at Washington College, the Women’s Centennial. The series looks ahead to the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote. Over the next four years, leading up to the 2020 anniversary itself, the Women’s Centennial will bring outstanding American women to campus, honoring and chronicling the achievements of women in leadership and public life from 1920 to the present day.

With its distinctive connection to the history of American freedom and its tradition of educating women and men as citizen leaders—and now under the leadership of its first female president, Sheila Bair—Washington College is uniquely suited to host the Women’s Centennial. The College has deep traditions of gender inclusivity: in 1783, it hired the first recorded female faculty member in American higher education, the art instructor Elizabeth Callister Peale. In May 1942, Washington College bestowed an honorary degree on First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

About the Washington College’s Harwood Lecture Series in American Journalism

The series was established to honor the distinguished career of the late Washington Post columnist and ombudsman Richard Harwood, who served as a trustee of the College, as well as a teacher and mentor of undergraduate journalists. The Harwood series has featured David Axelrod, Susan Goldberg, Tom Wheeler, Howard Dean, Robert Novak, John McCain, James Carville, Judy Woodruff, Al Hunt, Mark Shields, and Paul Gigot, among others. The journalistic tradition has also continued in Harwood’s own family; his son, John Harwood, has had a distinguished career as a political correspondent and columnist for CNBC, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

About the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience

The College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship, and public outreach, and with a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.