History December 30, 2016: Universities continue dropping American history requirement as enrollment problems plague departments

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Universities continue dropping American history requirement as enrollment problems plague departments

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Another university in the United States is joining the ranks of those dropping the requirement that their history majors complete a course in American history to graduate. George Washington University has become the latest university to drop the American history requirement. Less than a third of any of the universities and colleges listed in US News’ Best Colleges top 25 universities and colleges even require an American history course of their majors, with private colleges and universities leading the way, while more public schools maintain the requirement.

The issue, which is creating a new generation illiterate about the history of the very country they live in, was the topic of a recent report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni entitled “No U.S. History? How College History Departments Leave the United States out of the Major.” In universities’ attempt to give students more freedom in their education they are creating a new generation ill informed of the history of their nation and lacking the tools necessary for an enlightened electorate, citizens and future leaders. The greater problem, however, is the “dramatic” declining graduation rates in history degrees and enrollment in history courses according to the American Historical Association.

The 21st Century University is completing the process that philosopher Harold Bloom lamented in his 1987 book “The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students.” In his book, which amounted to a manifesto, Bloom charged universities of a politically liberal agenda that deprived students of learning the humanities and the great books of Western thought and civilization referred to as a liberal education in exchange for self-interest at the same time failing its students. Bloom’s book and article that preceded it were inspired by the culture wars of the 1980s where universities were dropping other traditional requirements for their students and altering their curriculum that has continued evolved into the one common on university campuses today. Bloom was fighting a war on the elite universities particularly the Ivy League that he believed assaulted traditional education creating a conflict between “culture and civilization.”

Now universities are completing their war on Western civilization by dropping American history requirements from their history majors. University history education has been practically taken over by obscure areas and sub-topics focusing on social history versus political history, now global history is taking preeminence over studying American history or even European history. Long gone are the days when history departments required a foreign language component of their majors while theses are also mostly going to the wayside, now most universities just loosely require time-periods and general geographic areas.

Some universities still require their students to take a survey course in either American, European, World or another geographic location; others allow micro-histories to substitute or even allow high grades in high school Advanced Placement (AP) credits in US History to suffice. Some university history departments have geographic requirements, but they do not include the United States, some even require that students take specific areas from “African, Asian, and Middle Eastern history or in Latin American history.” In total 34 colleges have “general geographical-distribution requirements “that explicitly exclude the US.

When there is an American history requirement history departments are too “lax” allowing micro-histories, mostly social history which ACTA calls “trendy, highly specialized courses” to substitute. These courses do not as “KC Johnson, senior professor of history at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center” notes cover essentials for a proper historical perspective on the US leading Johnson to question, “What happened to fields such as military, constitutional, and diplomatic history?” In total, 11 history departments at the top schools allow students to fulfill American history requirements with micro-history courses that barely touch on the most important events and issues in American history.

Bloom was concerned even in 1987 about the lack of American history being taught, writing, “The upshot of all of this for the education of young Americans is that they know much less about American history and those who were held to be its heroes. This was one of the few things that they used to come to college with that had something to do with their lives. Nothing has taken its place except a smattering of facts learned about other nations or cultures and a few social science formulas.” (Bloom, p. 34)

Nearly thirty years later, Michael Poliakoff, ACTA’s president-elect commented with the same lament Bloom had, “Historical illiteracy is the inevitable consequence of lax college requirements, and that ignorance leads to civic disempowerment. A democratic republic cannot thrive without well-informed citizens and leaders. Elite colleges and universities, in particular, let the nation down when the examples they set devalue the study of United States history.” While Eric Bledsoe, ACTA’s director of curricular improvementand academic outreach noted: “It is the obligation of higher education to ensure that all students, especially history majors, understand their own history.”

ACTA’s report “No U.S. History? How College History Departments Leave the United States out of the Major” examined how or if universities and colleges require an American history course of their history majors. The report determined that only 23 universities or colleges in the top 25 of US News Best Colleges “out of 76 require a course on our nation’s history.” ACTA indicated of “Top 25 Liberal Arts Colleges: 7 require U.S. history, of the Top 25 National Universities: 4 require U.S. History, and of the Top 25 Public Institutions: 14 require U.S. history.” Private universities especially the Ivy League are the worst offenders with only Princeton and Columbia University requiring an American history course but Princeton allows courses that are “narrow in scope” and not comprehensive surveys that give the greatest exposure even if it is at an introductory level.

Without requiring American history in US history departments, students are left with nothing more than basic high school courses in American and European history that do not have the analytical depth of a college course taught by a professional academic. ACTA argues that without knowledge of American history, students lack the background they need to study other geographic areas. The greater problem is that graduates are ignorant in one of the most important roles they will play after their academic careers that of citizens and possibly leaders. ACTA pointed out that educating future “citizens,” “leaders” is an important part of many colleges’ mission statements including Harvard, and without an American history requirement the colleges are not fulfilling their obligations.

History departments are arguing that students are going to take American history whether they are required or not. The real problem is dwindling enrollment numbers of history majors, an issue the discipline has been dealing with for the past couple of years. Declining enrollment was the reason George Washington University got rid of their American history requirement.
Katrin Schultheiss, the chair of the GWU history department told the student newspaper the Hatchet, “I think the main gain for students is that they have a great deal more flexibility than they had before, and they can adapt it to whatever their plans are for the future. Whatever they want to do, there’s a way to make the history department work for them.”

For many history departments like those at GWU, funding is tied to enrollment, gaining more students is key. After the great economic recession in 2008 history departments began to see a decline in enrollment for history majors as did other humanities disciplines, students chose instead majors with a distinct career path particularly STEM, science, technology, engineering and math instead to ensure more stable employment after graduation. History departments looked to appeal to students and entice them to take a major in the discipline to keep up with the declining enrollment numbers.

The American Historical Association conducted surveys earlier this year that showed a continued drop in students graduating with a degree in history and that in general there was a decline in college students taking history courses. Julia Brookins, the special projects coordinator at the AHA, authored the results and suggestions to help curb the declines. Brookins writing “New Data Show Large Drop in History Bachelor’s Degrees” published in March 2016 in the AHA’s “Perspectives on History” looked at data from the National Center for Education Statistics and determined that there was “dramatic decline in the number of bachelor’s degrees in history awarded in 2014.”

History departments saw an unprecedented 9.1 percent decrease in history degree granted in 2014 from 34,360 to 31,233, whereas in 2013 the decline from the previous year was only 2.8 percent. The decline was disproportionate at “very high research” universities with 13.3 percent, whereas at liberal arts colleges the decline was only 2.6 percent. Although bachelor degrees granted increased by 1.6 percent, history degrees only compromise 1.7 percent of all bachelor degrees granted.

In general, there is a decline in the number of students enrolling in undergraduate history courses. Brookins writing in “Survey Finds Fewer Students Enrolling in College History Courses” published in September 2016 described the results of a survey AHA conducted of 123 history departments in the US and Canada looking at undergraduate enrollment during the 2014–15 academic year. The results determined that there have enrollment declines at 96 departments with only 27 seeing increases, 55 departments had declines of 10 percent and over. The decline was greatest at public universities and colleges with a median drop of 9.2 percent versus private schools, which only saw a drop of 7.6 percent. History departments seem only to be able to attract students to introductory survey courses with them only seeing 4.8 percent of an enrollment decrease in comparison to the more specified upper-level courses that have seen a 7.6 percent decline.

The AHA gave history departments some suggestions to increase enrollment with Brookins’ article “The Decline in History Majors: What Is to Be Done?” published in May 2016. The AHA looked to determine whether departments’ moving away from the traditional focus on the United States and Europe hindered enrollment; their conclusion proved the “contrary.” According to the AHA, “departments with diverse specializations ‘were more likely to have increased their share of bachelor’s degrees’ than those without them. Also, the analysis ‘found that . . . a wide majority of departments continue to list themselves as having a specialization in the US and Europe.’”

Part of the AHA’s recommendations for history departments looking to recruit students was to move away from relying on introductory surveys, and instead, add more diverse course offerings. The AHA believes that getting rid of “designated distribution requirements” actually helps attract students to the department. Prospective employment also has been an issue with history graduates, with teaching or going on to law school the primary professional goals for history majors not looking to continue graduate study in the discipline.

Departments also need to appeal to more female students as history majors tend to be still more male than female by a 3:2 ratio, Focusing on social history helps, but departments still have problems recruiting minorities, with 74.4 percent of history graduates being white. Departments veering away from American history and European history and towards Africa/Asia/ Middle East and Global areas is an attempt to appeal to minority students whose numbers are also declining among history graduates except black men where there was an increase of history graduates in 2014 up 4.9 percent.

To balance out the changes in requirements history departments are looking to instill core competencies of historical analysis, writing, and research, skills students can use for future employment in a variety of fields. GWU’s Thomas Long, “an assistant history professor and the coordinator for undergraduate advising,” says that is the philosophy behind the departments to revise their requirements. Long explained, “You should graduate with a history major able to do three things: You should know how we got where we are, you should be able to write, and you should be able to think critically. If you graduate with those skills, you can really do anything.”

Most departments see giving their students access to a different way to specialize as keys to maintaining and even possibly increasing enrollment numbers and student success after graduation. Unfortunately, as Bloom worried about nearly 30 years ago, it is coming at the expense of a traditional education in Western civilization, with American history the latest victim to the changing trends in higher education.

Sources

American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), “No U.S. History? How College History Departments Leave the United States out of the Major,” July 2016

Allan Bloom. “The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students.” New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.

Julia Brookins, “New Data Show Large Drop in History Bachelor’s Degrees,” Perspectives on History, American Historical Association, March 2016, https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/march-2016/new-data-show-large-drop-in-history-bachelors-degrees

Julia Brookins, “The Decline in History Majors: What Is to Be Done?,” Perspectives on History,
American Historical Association, May 2016 https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/may-2016/the-decline-in-history-majors

Julia Brookins, “Survey Finds Fewer Students Enrolling in College History Courses,” Perspectives on History, American Historical Association, September 2016 https://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/september-2016/survey-finds-fewer-students-enrolling-in-college-history-courses

Kate Hardiman, “U.S. history no longer a requirement for history majors at George Washington University,” The College Fix, December 22, 2016, http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/30469/

Scott Jaschik, “History Enrollments Drop,” Inside Higher Ed, September 6, 2016 https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/09/06/survey-finds-decline-history-enrollments

Lily Werlinich, “History department changes major requirements to draw in students,” “The George Washington Hatchet,” November 13, 2016 http://www.gwhatchet.com/2016/11/13/history-department-changes-major-requirements-to-draw-in-students/

Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS, is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor with a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

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Politics December 28, 2016: Obama, Hillary Clinton still top Gallup’s most admired men and women in 2016

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Obama, Hillary Clinton still top Gallup’s most admired men and women in 2016

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: CNN

President Barack Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton remain the country’s most admired in 2016. Gallup Poll released on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2016, their annual list of most admired men and women for the year with predictable results. For the ninth straight year, President Obama has topped the list of most admired men, with Hillary Clinton topping the list of most admired women for as record-breaking time. Meanwhile, President-elect Donald Trump came in a close second to the outgoing president.

President Obama won the distinction of most admired with 22 percent of the vote, up from 17 percent last year, but his “narrowest” margin to date. He has appeared on the top 10, 12 times since 2006 and has been in the top spot for the last nine years. Trump came in a rather close second with 15 percent, while Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence sees his first appearance on the list coming in at number 10. Last year Trump tied for second with Pope Francis but with only 5 percent of the vote. This year is the president-elect’s sixth appearance in the top 10, in 1988 to 1990 and then again in 2011. Trump is looking to gain the most admired title next year an honor most sitting presidents have enjoyed.

President Obama has the second overall most admired titles besting former Presidents Bill Clinton (1993–2001) and Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) but behind Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961). It is no surprise Obama won most admired, it is a tradition for the sitting president always to be named the most admired, and has been the case for 70 years since the poll originated in 1946. Only 12 times did a sitting president lose out on the most-admired honor and usually only happens if the president has a low approval rating. Most recently in 2008 when then President-elect Obama edged out President George W. Bush who was seeing extremely low approval ratings at the end of his tenure.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Men 2016 Top 10:

1. Barack Obama 22
2. Donald Trump 15
3. Pope Francis 4
4. Bernie Sanders 2
5. Rev. Billy Graham 1
6t. Benjamin Netanyahu 1
6t. The Dalai Lama 1
6t. Bill Clinton 1
6t. Bill Gates 1
10. Mike Pence 1

Despite losing the presidential election to Trump Former first lady, New York Senator, 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tops the list of the most admired women for the 21st time and 15th year in a row. Clinton’s popularity coincides with her winning the popular vote in the election by nearly 3 million ballots although she lost in the Electoral College.

Clinton only lost the number one spot in 1995 and 1996 to Mother Theresa, and 2001 when First Lady Laura Bush took the position. Clinton only received 12 percent of the vote to reach the top of the list, last year she had 13 percent. Clinton has appeared on the list 25 times. First Lady Michelle Obama is in second place, but with 8 percent her best showing on the list since her husband was re-elected in 2012 and her best support since 2009 when she had 7 percent of the vote.

Gallup Polls Most Admired Women 2016 Top 10:

1. Hillary Clinton 12
2. Michelle Obama 8
3. Angela Merkel 3
4. Oprah Winfrey 3
5. Ellen DeGeneres 2
6. Queen Elizabeth 2
7. Malala Yousafzai 2
8. Condoleezza Rice 2
9. Elizabeth Warren 1
10. Sarah Palin 1

This year’s list is seeing some record number of appearances for both the most admired men and women. For the men, Rev. Billy Graham has his 60th top 10 finish having been in the top 10 every year since 1955, except for 1962 and 1976, while former President Bill Clinton has his 25th appearance on the top 10. On the women’s side, Hillary Clinton has the most top honors on the list with former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt second with 13 top honors. Queen Elizabeth has the most top 10 appearances of all women with 48, while Oprah Winfrey moved up to the second most of all time with her 29 showings.

Gallup believes there is a possibility that the poll’s most admired might have a shake up next year “as both move into the post-political phase of their careers.” They believe Trump will assume the top spot among the men, with Obama still ranking high in the top 10. Gallup also thinks Clinton still has a possibility of reigning among the women since former first ladies have won 35 out of 67 times, and assuming a non-political role will only help her popularity.

Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS, is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor with a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics December 20, 2016: Electoral College officially elects Donald Trump president-elect

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Electoral College officially elects Donald Trump president-elect

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: TIME

It is official Donald Trump is the president-elect. On Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, the 538 members of the Electoral College met and voted, finally putting an end to the tumultuous roller coaster that was the 2016 presidential election. By late afternoon Trump had reached the 270 votes necessary to assume the presidency. This year’s vote had a historic element it saw the largest amount of rogue faithless electors in modern presidential election history.

After reaching the milestone number of votes, Trump issued a statement calling his election win “a historic electoral landslide victory in our nation’s democracy.” Trump lost the popular vote to opponent Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by over 2.8 million mostly coming from the state of California. Trump had the worst popular vote of a winner than any president since the divisive 1876 election when Republican Rutherford B. Hayes won against Democrat Samuel B. Tilden after an Electoral Commission decided the election after neither candidate reached the Electoral vote majority. Tilden won more electors in the election and the popular vote, but the compromise of 1877 that ended Reconstruction put Hayes in the White House. Trump’s Electoral College victory was also only the 46th “largest” out of 58 votes winning only 56.9% of the electoral vote.

Continuing the president-elect expressed, “I thank the American people for their overwhelming vote to elect me as their next President of the United States. The official votes cast by the Electoral College exceeded the 270 required to secure the presidency by a very large margin, far greater than ever anticipated by the media. This election represents a movement that millions of hard working men and women all across the country stood behind and made possible. With this historic step, we can look forward to the bright future ahead. I will work hard to unite our country and be the President of all Americans. Together, we will make America great again.”

Vice-President Mike Pence was the first to comment of his running-mates victory. Pence tweeted “Congratulations to @RealDonaldTrump; officially elected President of the United States today by the Electoral College!” Afterward, he wrote, “I’m honored & humbled to be officially elected today as the next Vice President of the United States of America by the Electoral College.”

Clinton’s husband former President Bill Clinton served as an elector from New York State, which Clinton won. The former president tweeted, “As an elector from my home state of New York, I’ve never been more proud to cast a vote than my vote today for @HillaryClinton.”

A campaign and movement by liberals to convince Republicans to change their votes from Trump did not succeed. Still, there were seven faithless electors the largest number in modern presidential election history. Since 1872, there has never been more than one faithless elector. In 1872 Democratic nominee Horace Greeley died after the election but before the Electoral College vote with 63 out the 66 electoral votes he garnered the electors refused to vote for a deceased candidate with 43 dividing their votes among non-candidates primarily to Greeley’s running mate B. Gratz Brown. Three Georgia electoral votes were cast for Greeley, but Congress considered them invalid, while 17 abstained.

There would have been more faithless electors this time around, but the states that do not permit electors to change their votes and they ultimately replaced the rogue electors. One elector in each of the three states Maine, Minnesota and Colorado attempted to vote against Clinton; state election officials replaced them with alternate electors.

The campaign against Trump was motivated by Russian hacks that interfered in the election hoping to have Trump win as opposed to Clinton according to the CIA and FBI. The electors also failed to gain the intelligence briefing on Russia’s interference as they had hoped. Protests also erupted in small pockets, all over the country before the vote. Despite it all, Trump only saw two faithless electors, in Texas one elector voted for 2016 GOP candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich and another backed former Texas Rep. Ron Paul, repeat GOP presidential candidate who last ran in 2012.

Ironically, most of the faithless electors tried or did change their votes from Clinton. Clinton lost five electoral votes, four from Washington State, and one from Hawaii. Three of the Washington electors voted for former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and one voted for “Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle.” In Hawaii, the faithless elector voted for 2016 Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose popularity is outlasting his movement during the campaign.

In the end, Trump garnered 304 electoral votes, while Clinton amassed 227. In contrast, after the Nov. 8 election, Trump had 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232. Congress has to count the Electoral College votes officially when the 115th Congress goes into session on Jan. 6, 2017 where current Vice President Joe Biden will preside.

For more on Presidential election history see Presidential Campaigns & Elections Reference

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Education December 18, 2016: Ivy League early admissions rates for the Class of 2021

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Ivy League early admissions rates for the Class of 2021

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Test Prep Gurus

This year even more high school seniors applied to the Ivy League universities looking for a coveted spot as part of their Class of 2021. The record number of applications drove down the acceptance rates as these colleges to new lows. Every year in mid-December, the colleges notify their applicants whether they were accepted denied or deferred to the regular admission cycle. Those fortunate enough to be accepted have to May 1, 2017, to accept their offer of admission. The following Ivy League universities released their early admission acceptance rates for the Class of 2021:

Harvard University: Harvard accepted 938 applicants out of 6,473 applications for an acceptance rate of 14.5 percent.

Princeton University: Princeton accepted 770 applicants out of 5,003 applications for an acceptance rate of 15.4 percent.

Brown University: Brown accepted 695 applicants out of 3,170 applications for an acceptance rate of 21.9 percent.

The University of Pennsylvania: Penn accepted 1,335 applicants out of 6,147 applications for an acceptance rate of 22 percent.

Cornell University: Cornell accepted approximately 1,350 applicants out of 5,384 applications for an acceptance rate of 25.6 percent.

Dartmouth College: Dartmouth accepted 555 applicants out of 1,999 applications for an acceptance rate of 27.8 percent.

Yale University: Yale accepted 871 applicants out of 5,086 applications for an acceptance rate of 17.1 percent. Yale was the only Ivy to increase their admission rate, up nine percent from last year because of their two new residential colleges opening in the fall of 2017.

For last year’s acceptance rates read Harvard, Princeton, Stanford admit less early action applicants to Class of 2020

Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS, is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor with a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Education December 14, 2016: Harvard College’s most selective early action admissions year for Class of 2021

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Harvard College’s most selective early action admissions year for Class of 2021

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Harvard Admissions Twitter

December is the first time of the academic year high school senior’s heart’s get broken as they discover of they are offered early action or decision admission to the university of their choice. No colleges are more selective in the process than the Ivy League. Harvard University released their Class of 2021 data on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, announcing they admitted just 938 students or 14.5 percent of their early applicant pool.

As has been the trend, Ivy League, and elite universities are becoming more selective, and their early action admission rates are falling even though some might be accepting more students after receiving, even more, applications. This year is no different if Harvard’s numbers are an indication the Ivy League and elite universities are on track for their most selective year as they choose the Class of 2021. So much so they last year’s most selective school Stanford University refused to even release their early admissions data for the Class of 2021.

On Tuesday, Harvard announced they admitted just 938 students out of 6,473 applications to their early admissions program for the Class of 2021. Their admissions represented just 14.5 percent of the applicant pool down only 0.3 percent from last year. Harvard admitted a smaller percentage of students than last year to the Class of 2021 when they admitted 914 students out of 6,167 applicants representing 14.8 percent. In total, Harvard only accepted 5.2 percent of applicants in the regular admission cycle to the Class of 2020 out of 39,000 applicants.

William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid, commented on the record number of early admissions’ applicants and the process. Fitzsimmons expressed, “Early admission appears to be the ‘new normal’ now, as more students are applying early to Harvard and peer institutions than ever before.” The Admissions Dean explained the perfect recipe for a Harvard acceptance, “At the same time, we have continued to stress to applicants, their families, and their guidance counselors that there is no advantage in applying early to Harvard. The reason students are admitted — early or during the regular action process — is that their academic, extracurricular, and personal strengths are extraordinary.”

Harvard’s Class of 2021 is even more diverse than last year. More women were accepted representing 48 percent up from last year’s 47.4 percent for the Class of 2020. More minorities were admitted as well, 12.6 percent of African-American applicants were admitted this year up last year’s 9.4 percent. Fitzsimmons commented, “It does appear, say relative to the time when we gave up early admission, that there is greater ethnic and greater economic diversity in early pools these days, and therefore, in the admitted pool.”

There were, however, a decrease in diversity among other minority groups. Only 8.8 percent of Hispanics were admitted this year while last year 9.5 percent were admitted. Only 1.1 percent of Native American and Native Hawaiian were admitted down from last year’s 1.8 percent. The largest minority group accepted last year; Asian-Americans also saw a decrease in admissions with only 24.1 percent accepted down from 24.2 percent admitted last year through early action.

Early decision is binding, meaning a student who applies and then is accepted is required to attend the university or college, while early action is non-binding, a student can be accepted and then decide against going to that particular school and can turn down their admission offer. Applying for early admission is not without its risks either, some schools have policies where if a student is rejected in the early admission cycle, cannot reapply for regular admission, however, some universities who do not accept students that applied for early admission, automatically consider them for regular admission.

Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS, is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor with a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

Politics December 12, 2016: Rick Perry front runner for Trump’s Energy Secretary

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Rick Perry front runner for Trump’s Energy Secretary

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Former Texas Governor and 2012 and 2016 GOP candidate Rick Perry is President-Elect Donald Trump’s front runner for the Secretary of Energy post in his cabinet. On Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016, Bloomberg News reported that Perry is ahead of the pack on Trump’s shortlist for the post. This will be the first time a scientist is not heading the department responsible for “the safe handling of nuclear material and on emerging energy technologies.”

Bloomberg also noted that Democratic Senators Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and “Dallas investor and former finance chairman of the Republican National Committee” Ray Washburne are also under consideration. The Hill notes that Trump is also considering Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) for the post.

Trump is still meeting with candidates for the job. On Saturday, the president-elect met with Perry and Washburne while in Baltimore for the Army-Navy football game. Last week he met with Heitkamp at Trump Tower and intended to meet Manchin on Monday. Trump also is meeting again with Perry on Monday, Dec. 12. Trump transition spokesman Jason Miller confirmed a CBS News report about a second meeting. The meeting was set up after Trump and Perry’s Saturday meeting.

Ironically, Perry’s infamous oops moment from the 2012 campaign had to with the Energy Department. When asked in a 2011 GOP primary debate about the three departments he wants to eliminate as president, Perry forgot that he wanted to obliterate the Energy Department saying, “The third one, I can’t. Sorry. Oops.” That moment was his downfall. In 2016, early on he criticized Trump but then endorsed his candidacy, even looking to be his running-mate. Perry has not been shy about selling himself to be a part of the Trump administration cabinet.

Perry is on the board of Energy Transfer Partners LP the company building the North Dakota oil pipeline. According to Bloomberg Trump promised to increase “domestic oil, gas, and coal production” by “rescinding “job-killing” rules and environmental regulations.” Perry was the longest running Texas Governor, the state is central to American energy production, it “is the largest U.S. pumper of crude oil and home to two of the country’s largest petroleum refiners.”

The Energy Department is also central when it comes to nuclear weapons, “advocating nonproliferation, and promoting nuclear security worldwide.” Trump is planning to overhaul the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the next Energy Secretary will play a significant role in the negotiations.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics December 10, 2016: Congress passes spending bill again at the last minute averts government shutdown

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Congress passes spending bill again at the last minute averts government shutdown

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Congress seems to love to create suspense and putting the government on the verge of a shutdown, this time, however, it was the Democrats fault as opposed to the Republicans. With an hour to spare on Friday evening, Dec. 9, 2016, Senate passed a 1.1 trillion stopgap spending bill funding the government until April 28, 2017. The bill passed 63–36 with Democrats representing the dissenting votes. Some Democrats threatened a shutdown over health care benefits for miners. The House passed the bill on Thursday, Dec. 9 with a vote of 326–96.

The legislation marks last major bill of the 114th Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was speaking of his first session helming the Senate on the floor, “This Congress, the Senate has passed nearly 300 bills, and nearly 200 of those are now law. But what really matters isn’t the number of bills passed, it’s what we can achieve on behalf of the American people. And by that standard, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for our country.

Senate Democrats found were willing to risk a government shutdown over the bill, not including retirement benefits for retired coal miners and only a four-month extension of the health benefits rather than a full year. The problem the miners in Appalachian states receive their termination notice three months in advance, meaning they would receive their letters notifying them of the end of the healthcare in January.

Senators from coal mining states objected with Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia leading the charge. Additionally, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) followed with support. All are facing tough re-elections in the 2018 midterms in states President-elect and Republican Donald Trump won.

Manchin argued to change the bill on the Senate floor, “I rise today fighting for the working men and women that we all use in our commercials. Every one of us goes out and basically tries to attract working men and women to vote for us because we say we’re coming here to fight for you.”

McConnell argued that bill received bipartisan support in the House and since the house left for the end of session Christmas recess the government would shut down. The majority leader expressed on the Senate floor, “While some Senate Democrats may want to delay into a shutdown, House Democrats overwhelmingly rejected that approach.”

The rest of the Democrats including the incoming Minority Leader Charles Schumer, (D-NY) did not want to take a risk and shut down the government. As the midnight deadline neared Schumer indicated, “We’re not going to shut down the government. We’re going to keep it open. We’re going to provide the votes so we don’t shut down.”

Manchin did not have the 41 votes needed to block the bill, but he wanted to delay its passage. Speaking at a press conference, Manchin said, “I don’t think we’re gonna get to the 41 [votes] as of tonight, but we have support to take this fight on.” The tide turned when at 7 p.m. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) abandoned the effort declaring, “We are not going to shut down the government over this issue.” President Barack Obama signed the bill soon after the Senate passed it.

Now negotiations for omnibus spending bills for the rest of the 2017 fiscal year falls into the lap of the incoming President Donald Trump. Trump promised to cut the deficit by getting rid of the “tremendous waste, fraud and abuse.” The new Senate has a busy schedule confirming Trump’s cabinet and a new Supreme Court nominee; they wanted Trump to accept and continuing resolution for the entire year and avoid the 100-day crunch, but he did not want to wait.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics December 10, 2016: Trump decides on Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State

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Trump decides on Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

President-elect Donald Trump has made his decision about his Secretary of State nominee. According to an NBC News report on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 10, 2016, Trump decided on Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for the post. Just this past week, Tillerson emerged as a top contender after Trump expanded his search after his transition team expressed concerns about his candidates for the job. Former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton will be named deputy Secretary of State. The nominations will be formally announced be this upcoming week.

Trump only met with Tillerson on Tuesday, Dec. 6. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended the Exxon CEO for the post. Tillerson has extensive experience in international relations according to Politico. A source in the transition revealed, “Tillerson ‘fits the prototype’ and that Trump ‘likes his style and background.’”

Initially, Trump was considering New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton for the post. His widened search added Adm. James Stavridis, Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and, former Ford CEO Alan Mulally to the shortlist.

Tillerson comes with baggage that might complicate his confirmation hearings. The former Exxon CEO has deep ties to Russia through his work with the oil giant. The Wall Street Journal reported that Tillerson negotiated a deal in 2011 with Russia to access their Arctic resources that was worth $500 billion but US sanctions on Russia after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 put the project on hold, which Tillerson said, caused “broad collateral damage.” In 2012, Russia awarded the Exxon CEO the Russian Order of Friendship.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics December 7, 2016: TIME magazine names President-Elect Donald Trump their 2016 person of the year

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Time magazine names Trump their 2016 person of the year

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: TIME

President-elect Donald Trump now holds a title that last year he said he would never receive Time magazine’s Person of the Year. On Wednesday morning, Dec. 7, 2016, Time named Trump their Person of the Year, an honor awarded recent president-elects. Time’s recognition is somewhat conflicting calling Trump the President of the Divided States of America with a cover many readers claim make him appear to have horns on his head and seem uncomplimentary.

Trump appeared on the Today show to discuss his Time cover Wednesday morning, telling the hosts, “It’s a great honor, it means a lot, especially me growing up reading Time magazine. But to be on the cover of Time magazine as the ‘Person of the Year’ is a tremendous honor.”

The president-elect was also not a fan of the title saying it was “snarky.” Trump explained, “I’m not president, yet so I didn’t do anything to divide. I mean there’s a lot of division. And we’re going to put it back together and we’re going to have a country that’s very well healed and we’re going to be a great economic force and we’re going to build up our military and safety and we’re going to do a lot of great things.”

Time Managing Editor Nancy Gibbs explained why the magazine chose Trump. Gibbs wrote, “For those who believe this is all for the better, Trump’s victory represents a long-overdue rebuke to an entrenched and arrogant governing class. For those who see it for the worse, the destruction extends to cherished norms of civility and discourse, a politics poisoned by vile streams of racism, sexism, nativism.”

Trump gave the interview for the profile in Fifth Avenue Manhattan Trump Tower penthouse. The president-elect expressed, “What amazes a lot of people is that I’m sitting in an apartment the likes of which nobody’s ever seen. And yet I represent the workers of the world. I’m representing them, and they love me, and I love them.”

Time magazine chooses their Person or People of the Year based on whether “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Every president since Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 has been named Person of the Year at some point in their presidency recently, however, the president-elect has taken the honors, since Jimmy Carter in 1976. As the Hill noted, “President Obama was named Person of the Year in both 2008 and 2012 after winning elections, as was President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004.”

Time also named five runner- ups, Trump’s opponent, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was first, The Hackers of the 2016 presidential campaign, second, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was third, The Crispr Pioneers were fourth while singer Beyonce was fifth.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.

Politics December 2, 2016: Nancy Pelosi to remain House Democratic Minority Leader after re-election vote

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Nancy Pelosi to remain House Democratic Minority Leader after re-election vote

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, (D -CA) staved off challenger Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), to remain the House Democratic Minority Leader for the 115th Congress. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, House Democrats voted 134–63 in a closed-door meeting to keep Pelosi in as minority leader. The Nov. 15 elections were delayed at the closed-door meeting by request after the Nov. 8, election. Soon after Ryan, 43 announced his plans to challenge Pelosi, 76, but was unable to garner enough support to unseat her.

The Democratic caucus requested a delay in the elections of the Democratic House leadership posts at their Nov. 15 meeting. They were dissatisfied with Pelosi’s leadership and the direction of the party after their losses in the election. House Democrats picked up just six seats, lost the presidency and only picked up two Senate seats. Democrats wanted Pelosi to make changes in the leadership; she promises to every new session but never follows through. Democrats also needed time to reflect on the election and the message the American public sent the party.

Ryan announced his intention to challenge Pelosi on Nov. 17. Ryan argued the need for change after the Democrats crushing election defeat. He said the party needed a younger leadership and vision that would focus on the Democrats “economic message” and “geographic outreach.” Ryan told ABC News, “Donald Trump is the president, that is how bad we are out of touch, that the backbone of our party went and voted for Donald Trump, and I say that’s out fault. Clearly we have got to do something much different. We have to connect to these working-class voters and we have a broad coalition.” Ryan has been in the House representing first Ohio’s 13th district since he was elected in 2003.

The Ohio representative announced his candidacy with a letter to the Democratic caucus. Ryan wrote, “I have spent countless hours meeting and talking to Members of our Caucus, and the consensus is clear. What we are doing right now is not working. While having a position in Democratic Leadership has never been my life’s ambition, after this election I believe we all need to re-evaluate our roles within the Caucus, the Democratic Party, and our country. That is why I am announcing my run for Minority Leader of the Democratic Caucus and humbly request your support.” Only 11 House members publicly declared their support for Ryan.

At that point, Pelosi dismissed Ryan’s challenge telling the press, “I’ve regularly had some opponents. House Democrats must be unified, strategic, and unwavering.” Pelosi has been the Democratic House leader for 13 years, and during four of those years from 2007 to 2011, she was the first female Speaker of the House. Previously, Pelosi served as Democratic Whip. President Barack Obama essentially endorsed Pelosi, saying, “I cannot speak highly enough of Nancy Pelosi. She combines strong, progressive values with just extraordinary political skill.”

The following is the lineup this far for the new House Democratic leadership positions:

Minority (Democratic) Leadership:
Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi
Minority Whip: Steny Hoyer
Assistant Democratic Leader: Jim Clyburn

Democratic Leadership:
Caucus Chairman: Joe Crowley
Caucus Vice-Chairman: Linda Sánchez
Campaign Committee Chairman: Ben Ray Luján

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. Ms Goodman is an expert in presidential campaigns and election history and she has been covering American elections as a journalist since 2004.