Friday, December 14, 2007

HMS Team Names Video 2007

Here's the video from the Team name unveiling on Wednesday. We will be creating a team logo and motto in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.....

Field Music - In Context

This is an amazing video by the British band Field Music, that reminds me that if we take too narrow a view on life and fail to take a step back to see the big picture, then things won't make sense and seem disconnected.

For Project Citizen we need to constantly remind ourselves what our mission statement and goals are so that the individual assignments building up to the final group presentation stays on target with the "big picture" of the Project. At the end of the project all of our hard work sifting through research and interviewing people will pay off when we present our policy proposal.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Project Citizen challenges

The last two weeks we have been learning about public policy and local issues to get ready for Project Citizen. There have been great discussions in class about some very worthy issues that we can tackle with this project. Some of the discussions centerd on drugs, suicide, transfats, land use, water bottles in school, resource conservation, hunting near residential areas, and nutrition in the cafeteria (to name just a sampling of our discussion topics). Obviously, there were many opinions expressed. The challenge for us now will be to step back from what we personally think about the chosen issue and to do the hard work needed to produce an intelligent, realistic, and understandable policy. Working collaboratively in class and on Google Groups students will find out that the process of Project Citizen is far more important than whether or not the policy is ever enacted. By learning to effectively work together for a common goal with a diverse group of people students will be learning skills that transcend the PSSA's and SAT's. A student with a high IQ or test scores will be at a competitve disadvantage if they are unable to work with others effectively. To make positive change in our communities and to take part in the democratic process of our country involves not just knowledge, but also an ability to organize, communicate, and take risks. These three attributes are the true learning goals of Project Citizen. So regardless of what issues the classes choose, or how successfully they are ever implemented is really not that important in the big picture. The important measure of success for Project Citizen will be how well did we organize, communicate, and take risks???

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Picture Puzzle #2 Answered

Impeachment. All of the people pictured in Picture Puzzle #2 were impeached. Some were convicted and subsequently removed from office, while others were not convicted and stayed in office. The impeachment process is one of the most important checks in our Constitutional system. It makes the concept of rule of law work by placing all government office holders under the law.

Article II, Section IV of the Constitution spells out how someone can be impeached:
"The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impreachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."

Read more about some actual impeachments:

Impeachment of Bill Clinton- (President) Acquitted, stayed in Office

Impeachment of Alcee Hastings- (Federal Judge) Convicted, removed from Office

Impeachment of Andrew Johnson- (President) Acquitted, stayed in Office

Impeachment of William Blount- (Senator) Dismissed, expelled from Senate

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Picture Puzzle #2

What do these people have in common?

Picture Puzzle #1 Answered

The first ever picture puzzle seemed to puzzle everyone ( or at least Billy since he was the only one to comment). Hopefully the next picture puzzle will get more responses. Anyway picture #1 was showing George Washington's 1st inaugural at Federal Hall in New York City on April 30, 1789. This relates to the Constitution because it was the Constitution that created the office of President.

We know that the Constitutional Convention took place in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787. It was during this critical time that debates concerning state versus national authority took place. It was agreed that a stronger national government was needed to solve the many problems the young United States was facing. The problem was that most of the founders feared that the strengthening of the national government may lead to an American monarchy or a similar form of government that would betray the spirit of 1776.

How could the Founders stregnthen the national government without placing too much power in the hands of one person? The answer was provided by creating a federal system where the national and state powers are clearly defined, thereby saving important authority to the state and local governements. In addition, the national government was divided into three branches headed by three different groups of people. To further spread out the power of the national government there were a series of checks and balances that were written into the Constitution that made it necessary for each branch to work together and oversee the others. This system may not work perfectly, but it certainly was an improvement over what the Articles of Confederation provided.

When the Constitution was finally ratified in June 1788 preparations were made to hold the first Presidential election. Of course, George Washington was elected. When Washington left Mount Vernon on April 16, 1789 to go to New York City to be inaugurated President of the United States he did not know what was in store for him or the nation. The Constitution actually spelled out very little specifics about the responsibilities of the office. Everything Washington did as President would become a precedent that future Presidents would look to for guidance. One thing that the Constitution did spell out was the Oath of Office. When Washington took the Oath in Federal Hall he spoke the same words that have been spoken by every President since 1789: "I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" And then after a brief pause Washngton added something the Constitution did not include, but has become part of the oath ever since--"So help me God".

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Picture Puzzle #1

What is happening in this picture?

How does it relate to the Constitution?