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Teaching and Education Highlights at the 2016 OAH Annual Meeting

OAH-2015-Annual-Meeting-BLACKThe OAH 2016 Annual Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island features numerous panels for history educators and for attendees interested in the history of education. Here are some of the highlights.

School Leadership in American History: Thursday, April 7, 12-1:30pm

Chair and Commentator: Karen Graves, Denison University

  • H. Councill Trenholm: Leadership for Change in the National Education Association. Carol Karpinski, Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • The Historiography of School Leadership in the United States. Kate Rousmaniere
  • The Public Work of Urban School Leadership: Leonard Covello in East Harlem, NYC. Michael Johanek, University of Pennsylvania
  • Leading With Their Lives”: Early Black Headteachers in the UK – 1968 – 1996. Lauri Johnson, Boston College

The History of History Teaching: Contested Instructional Leadership: Thursday, April 7, 1:45-3:15pm

Chair and Commentator: James Fraser, New York University, New York University

  • Keeping it Straight?: The Debate Over LGBTQ Curriculum in High School U.S. History Classes. Stacie Brensilver Berman, NYU
  • Educating the Enemy: Texas History Instruction in the Borderlands, 1946-1950. Jonna Perrillo, University of Texas at El Paso
  • ‘Which Way America?’: California’s Moral Guidelines Committee and the Forging of a Patriotic Morality in the Public Schools, 1968-74. Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, The New School

Why you Can’t Teach United States History without American Indians: Friday, April 8, 9-10:30am

Chair and Commentator: Jean O’Brien, University of Minnesota

  • Susan Sleeper-Smith, Michigan State University
  • Scott Stevens, Syracuse University
  • Adam Jortner, Auburn University
  • Jeff Ostler, University of Oregon
  • Nancy Shoemaker, University of Connecticut

Historical Perspectives on the Common Core Standards: Saturday, April 9, 9-10:30am

By 2014 forty-three states and the District of Columbia had adopted the Common Core curriculum standards in Mathematics and Language Arts. The standards have been highly controversial on several fronts; the Common Core represents the first successful attempt at establishing a national curriculum; the Common Core were designed and implemented with the help of private funders such as Bill Gates, and are being assessed (in 13 states) by a major corporation, Pearson; the Common Core’s focus on college and career readiness potentially marginalizes the historic civic and humanistic purposes of public schools; the Common Core Language Arts standards’ focus on the importance of “text complexity” has only a tenuous basis in research; the Common Core has created political rifts within the coalitions of the Left and Right as it relates to federal overreach and undermining of teacher’s professionalism; and the implementation of the Common Core has crossed a tipping point among parents opposed to excessive testing, triggering a massive “opt out” movement. This roundtable discussion brings together experts on the history of education, educational policy, curriculum, and teaching to place these debates in historical perspective.

Chair: Thomas Fallace, William Paterson University of New Jersey

  • Andrew Hartman, Illinois State University
  • James Fraser, New York University
  • Christopher Phillips, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Kristy Stofey, Wayne Hills Highschool

“Mr. Chips, Ph.D.”: The History Doctorate in Secondary Education: Saturday, April 9, 10:50am-12:20pm

This round table examines the paths and career goals that Ph.D.s in History might pursue, especially in secondary schools, in the world beyond higher education. The members of this round table suggest that there are legitimate paths available for history Ph.D.s in secondary education. We need not view such employment beyond the academy as “failure” or a consolation prize when the tenure track proves illusive. Using doctoral training in an alternative academic environment can provide great professional satisfaction, from the application and interview process, to the challenges and satisfactions of teaching secondary school students, to the further career opportunities that such positions then open. We expect that our stories can be instructive and provoke a productive, wide-ranging discussion about why graduate students should consider careers in secondary education, and continue to contribute to the profession that first attracted them to graduate study.

Chair: Luther Spoehr, Brown University

  • Richard Canedo, City on a Hill Charter Public School (Boston)
  • Edward Rafferty, Concord Academy
  • Sarah Yeh, Concord Academy
  • Jason George, Bryn Mawr School

State of the Question: What Is the Relationship between Church and State in the Teaching of Religious History?: Saturday, April 9, 10:50am-12:20pm

Chair:  John Fea, Messiah College

  • Mark Silk, Trinity College
  • Diane Moore, Harvard University

Chat Rooms: Saturday, April 9, 12:30-1:30pm

What is a Chat Room? Check out our blog post on the topic.

  • Teaching Violence in the Classroom, with Monica Martinez, Brown University and Kathleen Belew, University of Chicago
  • Adjunct Teaching: Pathway to a Professional Future, with Donald Rogers, Central Connecticut State University & Brendan Lindsay, California State University, Sacramento

Building the Ebony Tower: Reconsidering Black Colleges in the Age of Jim Crow: Saturday, April 9, 1:50-3:20pm

In 1906, black colleges in Atlanta offered up their campuses as safe zones in face of race riots spreading across the city. Black leaders hoped that the prestige of the schools could keep out the violent mobs. The importance and function of black colleges in the Jim Crow south is captured in this moment. These schools provided spaces for the community to gather and stood as a symbols of racial uplift. The educators and administrators of the schools regarded themselves as ‘race leaders”. Members of the black community looked towards them and their colleges to mold the next generation of black leaders. During the first half of the twentieth century, the black college grew in population as well as in scope and influence. These schools, along with the black church, were, as historian Adam Fairclough terms it, the “institutional and emotional anchor of black life” under the legalized segregation of the Jim Crow Era. Despite the importance of black colleges in the Jim Crow Era, black education in this period remains understudied. This panel unites scholars who help us reconsider the role of the black college before the classical civil rights era.

Davarian Baldwin’s paper examines the influence of Tuskegee University and its founder, Booker T. Washington, on the formation of the Chicago School of Sociology. Through his study, Baldwin highlights the intellectual influences of Black scholars and a black college in the field of urban sociology in the early twentieth century. Focused on black student protests in the 1920s, Amira Rose Davis explores the ways discourses of black womanhood were used to defend, as well as deride, the foremost black colleges in the nation, illuminating the gendered politics of black institutions during the inter-war period. Liz Lundeen also examines a student protest in her paper. Detailing the events of a 1930s protest at a small black college in Virginia, Lundeen offers a compelling history of black student activism and connects it with student activism during the long civil rights movement. Lastly, Derrick White’s paper on black college football in the 1950s, reassesses the costs of desegregation and examines the state of black colleges in the aftermath of Brown V. Board. Taken together, this assembled panel of scholars will examine the intellectual, cultural, social, and political significance of the black college prior to the classical civil rights era.

Chair and Commentator: Martha Biondi, Northwestern University

  • Spirit of Excellence: Black College Football, the Black Coaching Fraternity, and the Costs of Desegregation. Derrick White, Dartmouth College
  • “The situation at the college… is incompatible with our self-respect”: The Virginia State Strike of 1934 and the Early Black Student Movement. Elizabeth Lundeen, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • “‘I became…a Negro myself’: Robert Park, Tuskegee Institute, and the Making of the ‘Chicago School’ of Sociology”. Davarian Baldwin, Trinity College
  • The Politics of Reputation: Discourses of Black Womanhood in the Black Student Protests of the 1920s. Amira Rose Davis, Johns Hopkins University

A Twenty-Year Perspective on the History Wars of the 1990s: Saturday, April 9, 1:50pm-3:20pm

This session will be a round table discussion, from the perspective of twenty years, regarding the proposed National History Standards developed by historians and teachers in conjunction with the National Center for History in the Schools. These standards were challenged by Lynne Cheney, former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, for placing too much emphasis upon multiculturalism and not enough focus on traditional patriotism. The ensuing political firestorm, in an episode known as the “history cultural wars,” led to a modestly revised version of the standards and a surge of community engagement between K–12 teaches and college-level historians.

Chair: Fritz Fischer, Northern Colorado University

  • Gary Nash, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Ross Dunn, San Diego State University
  • Gloria Sesso, Patchogue-Medford (N.Y.) Unified School District
  • Kristen Walleck, Arlington (Va.) Public Schools

Teaching Women’s History in the U.S. History Survey Course: Sunday, April 10, 10:45am-12:15pm

At both the higher ed and high school levels, new efforts are underway to integrate scholarly research on women’s history into the U.S. history survey course. In addition, the College Board’s revisions to the Advanced Placement United States History course and exam include an increased focus on the role of women’s history. In this session, the two presenters, both members of the College Board’s AP U.S. History Development Committee, will explain the rationale behind the changes and discuss how they approach women’s history in their courses. The session will include discussion of scholarly and primary sources related to women’s history, with particular attention paid to the long fight for the 19th Amendment as well as the continuing issues surrounding women’s political participation.


  • Maria Montoya, New York University, New York, NY
  • Mary Lopez, Schaumburg High School, Schaumburg, IL