Sunday, December 1, 2019

George Washington University Drops US History Requirement - For History Majors

A university literally named after George Washington and located in the nation's capital just dropped its requirement for American history, for history majors. In order to graduate with a history degree from George Washington University (GW) in Washington, D.C., you do not have to study American history.

To make matters worse, the department said they made this stunning decision in order to kowtow to current trends and make history more popular. This change comes among other updates to the curriculum: history majors will no longer be required to take foreign language classes, can do an electronic capstone project instead of the traditional thesis, and will not have to study European, North American, or U.S. history.

"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," Katrin Schultheiss, chair of the history department, told The GW Hatchet. "Whatever they want to do, there's a way to make the history department work for them."

In 2016, GW implemented a new funding formula, allocating money to the various departments based on the number of students enrolled in that major's classes. Each school receives $301 for every student in a class, incentivizing majors like history to offer classes that will be popular.

Indeed, enrollment in history has dropped since 2011, when there were 153 history majors. Only 72 undergraduate students majored in history in 2015, while 83 did so in 2016, the Hatchet reported.

Some of the updates make sense — while it is good to require students to study a foreign language, it might not be necessary for history. The electronic capstone might be less rigorous than a traditional thesis, but it would make sense to allow students to build a website focused on their concentration of history, for instance.

Dropping the U.S. or European history requirement is different in kind, and much less excusable. The new requirements still mandate at least one introductory course, of which American history, world history, and European civilization are options — as well as "Approaches to Women's History." Nevertheless, this introductory requirement may be fulfilled by scoring a 4 or a 5 on the Advanced Placement exams for U.S., European, or world history.

In addition to this one required introductory course (which may be satisfied by women's studies), the major requires an introductory seminar, eight to ten upper-level history courses, and a thesis or capstone project. Before the changes, students had to take two courses focused on Europe and North America. Now, they can avoid them altogether.

"I think an important change in the history major has been to make our major actually reflect the field of history the way that historians study it now," Denver Brunsman, an associate professor of history and director of undergraduate services for the department, told the Hatchet. "In the past — and I think our old standards reflected this — it was very common to have students take a class in American history, in European history and maybe, just maybe, something else, another part of the world."

While a focus on other countries is laudable, it is important for students to understand their historical and intellectual heritage. If the history department were to become stiflingly closed to studying other regions of the world, that would indeed be a problem. But requiring a general knowledge of America's roots (and those include Europe's history) is natural and should be expected, especially of history majors.

Rather, this move seems to fit with the trend of rejecting the study of Western heritage as somehow oppressive and close-minded. Indeed, students at Yale University recently petitioned for the removal of a class because studying "Major English Poets" would create "a culture that is especially hostile to students of color." Stanford University students rejected a petition for a Western heritage course in April. The University of Wisconsin-Stout even removed historical paintings because they might traumatize students.

In July, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) issued a report showing that less than one-third of highly ranked colleges and universities in America actually require students pursuing a degree in history to take a single course in American history. Only 23 undergraduate history programs at 75 colleges and universities in the study required a U.S. history course.

Even worse, many of the institutions that do not require a U.S. history course do actually mandate a class on areas outside the United States. Many allow very strange, highly specialized topics to substitute for such a class, such as "Soccer and History in Latin America: Making the Beautiful Game," or "Modern Addiction: Cigarette Smoking in the 20th Century," or "Lawn Boy Meets Valley Girl."

Even among the schools requiring American history, 11 allow courses like "Hip-Hop, Politics, and Youth Culture in America" or "Mad Men and Mad Women" to satisfy the requirement.

"Historical illiteracy is the inevitable consequence of lax college requirements, and that ignorance leads to civic disempowerment," declared Michael Poliakoff, then-president-elect of ACTA, upon the release of the study. "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."

Indeed, American college students are painfully ignorant of American history. According to one study, between 60 and 70 percent of American college students could not name a country outside the United States which has had slavery. It appears that the unhealthy focus on the guilt of slavery in America has led many young people to think the United States invented slavery.

It is truly saddening to see a university named after George Washington devalue American history in this fashion, even if it follows the vast majority of elite schools.

Furthermore, as a history major myself, I would suggest that making the study of history less rigorous will actually detract from its appeal to students. One of the things that attracted me and my fellow students to history was its difficulty and the excellence of the professors. Had the requirements loosened, the major would likely have lost attractiveness, not gained more.

One of the major reasons the humanities in general are in decline is the widespread (and entirely incorrect) assumption that history, literature, and classical disciplines teach nothing valuable and are a joke. By no longer requiring history majors to study the past of their own country, schools like GW seem determined to double down on making the humanities seem pointless, and therefore even more unpopular.

I must agree with Thomas Long, an assistant professor at GW, who listed the three things a history major should be able to do: "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."

While Long supported the change, I would argue that removing an American history requirement makes it less likely graduates will "know how we got where we are," and it also makes the major less attractive — not more.


Friday, November 22, 2019

Congressman Wittman Advocating For Virginia Travelers


For many people, the holiday season means travel, whether across the nation, state, or county. According to AAA, more than 55 million travelers will be taking to the roads and skies this Thanksgiving alone.

Our region is in a unique spot for travel and infrastructure priorities. We live in one of the worst traffic hotspots in the nation, home to four international airports (Norfolk, Richmond, Dulles, and Reagan), amidst the most important rail corridors in the nation, and are served by one of the largest container ports in the country. That is why I am a vocal advocate for these and other projects as your representative in Washington.

Here are just a few of my transportation priorities:

  • Addressing long-term funding for the Highway Trust Fund
  • Expanding access to rural broadband
  • Alleviating congestion along I-95
  • Improving commuter and freight rail
  • Growing the Port of Virginia
  • Replacing the Norris Bridge
  • Replacing Long Bridge (rail bridge across the Potomac from Virginia to Washington)
Click here to learn more about my work for transportation initiatives in our area.

Improving our transportation infrastructure throughout the state is one of my top priorities as your representative in Washington, and I will continue to work with state and local leaders as well as officials from the United States Department of Transportation to create a better transportation future in the Commonwealth.


Rob Wittman

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Do You Have The Right ID??? From Congressman Wittman


I wanted to make sure you knew about a new ID requirements for boarding domestic flights and accessing secure federal facilities going into effect by this time next year.

Because of a federal law change, beginning October 1, 2020, you will be required to have a REAL ID complainant identification in order to board a domestic flight or to access secure federal facilities, like military bases. Your standard driver’s license, like the one you may have in your wallet right now, can be used to drive. In addition, a driver’s license or identification card can be used as ID to vote, cash a check, apply for or receive government benefits, or conduct everyday local business. While you will be able to continue to use this ID for these activities, you will no longer be able to use a standard driver’s license to board domestic flights. If you have a U.S. Passport or 
another form of approved identification, you can use that instead. The REAL ID is an optional credential; it is not required as long as you also have another form of approved ID to fly domestically.

However, if you fly domestically or frequent secure federal facilities you may want to upgrade to a REAL ID compliant Virginia driver’s license. REAL ID compliant credentials display a small star in the upper right corner to indicate they meet federal requirements. Choose which documents you’ll need to bring to DMV to get a REAL ID with DMV’s interactive 
Document Guide. Don’t make your next visit to the DMV longer by not bringing the right materials to the DMV the first time. The next time you renew your standard credential and choose not to upgrade to a REAL ID, it will display “Federal Limits Apply” in the top right corner in order to distinguish it from a REAL ID compliant credential.

Again, you will not need this ID until October 1, 2020.
I also want to reiterate, this credential is completely optional; if you will not need it, you are not required to get it.

Click here for more information from the Virginia DMV, and click here for frequently asked questions.


  Congressman Rob Wittman

"To keep up to date with my thoughts on the issues you care most about, sign up here."

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Capital Research Center's Latest News items

CARMA & Others, I'm eager to share the latest from CRC with you:
  • Look what Big Labor bought last year
    Last week, CRC's Mike Watson commemorated the law that requires unions to report their spending. This week, Watson takes a deeper dive to see how they paid for bad baseball and bad science--not to mention $60,000 in voter turnout efforts. Read what Big Labor buys here.

  • Revealed:  The shadowy special interests behind "net neutrality"
    As federal courts uphold the Trump administration's rollback of Obama-era internet regulations, CRC's Hayden Ludwig reminds us that so-called "net neutrality" is a product of the socialist Left, underwritten by a handful of wealthy special interests--including Demand Progress and the Media Democracy Fund, two front groups for the shadowy nonprofit empire run by the consulting firm Arabella Advisors. Learn more here.
  • When your tax dollars help groups sue the government . . .
    . . . everyone loses. Lawsuits against the government can be expensive, and plaintiffs may have ulterior motives beyond simply arriving at the correct application of the law. And when suits are brought by groups already feeding at the federal trough, the issue becomes especially thorny. CRC's Robert Stilson takes a close look at what happens when groups like the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund bite the hand that feeds them.
  • NBC News is wrong: the Epoch Times is not a pro-Trump "dark money" operation.
    In August, NBC News claimed that the Epoch Times, a right-leaning newspaper founded by anti-Communist Chinese expatriates, had "obfuscate[d] its connection to some $2 million worth of ads that promoted the president. . . ." CRC's social media team of Jake Klein, Caleb Sutherlin, and former intern James Selvey investigate those claims and prove they're false here.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

NEW SCAM - Cash Out Money - Get Your Receipt

A LOT OF SHOPS NOW ASK IF YOU NEED A RECEIPT-otherwise you don’t get one!  LEAVES IT WIDE OPEN DOESN’T IT!  (I’ve noticed this lately)
KEEP THE RECEIPT…This is worth reading if shopping at stores with a credit card. They do not automatically hand you a receipt anymore if the sale is under $30.  YOU MUST ASK FOR IT!


An associate bought a heap of stuff the other day while on holiday (over $450), & when he glanced at his receipt as the cashier was handing him the bags, he saw cash out of $20.  He told her he didn't request any cash and to delete it.  She said he'd have to take the $20 because she couldn't delete it.  He told her to call a supervisor.  Supervisor came and said he'd have to take it.  He said NO Bloody way!  Because taking the $20 would be a cash advance against his Credit Card and he wasn't paying interest on a cash advance!  If they couldn't delete it then they would have to delete the whole order.‎ So the supervisor had the cashier delete the whole order and re-scan everything!

The second time he looked at the electronic pad before he pinned in his number and again…cash-back of $20 popped up! At that point he told the cashier and she deleted it.  The total then came out right.  The cashier said that the Electronic Pad must be defective. Obviously, the cashier knew the electronic pad was defective because she NEVER offered him any cash after either of the transactions.
Can you imagine how many people went through before him and by the end of her shift how much money she pocketed?  His wife went into a Kohl’s Warehouse last week.  She had her items rung
up by the cashier.  The cashier hurried her along and didn't give her a receipt.  She asked the cashier for the receipt and the cashier seemed annoyed but gave it to her.

She didn't look at her receipt until later that night when back at their Hotel.  The receipt showed that she had asked for $20 cash.  SHE DID NOT ASK FOR ANY CASH, NOR WAS SHE GIVEN IT!  So she called Kohl’s who investigated but could not see that the cashier pocketed the money.  They then spoke with a friend who works for one of the banks; they told them that this was a NEW SCAM that was bound to escalate.

The cashier will key in that you asked for cash and then hand it to one of her friends when they next come through the check-out queue.  This is NOT limited to Kohl’s; they are just one of the largest retailers to have the most incidents.  I wonder how many "seniors" have been, or will be, "stung" by this one?