Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Historical Society Absurdity

Although provided with a generous budget by taxpayers, the Arizona Historical Society has never produced a top rated history museum. Incredibly, they now seem to envision operating a science education program.

A prior post described the “Arizona Mineral Education” link that was added to the AHS website in 2011. Now, the AHS website has an EDUCATION tab on the left. Clicking on it opens a menu with a SCIENCE EDUCATION icon on the very top.  Under that icon, there is an INTERNET RESOURCES tab that provides links to many existing internet sites on rocks and minerals (and also women in mining).  There are tabs for kid’s science projects, and teacher’s science kits. To the right of those tabs is a table with downloadable information on not only rocks, minerals, and geology, but also CLIMATE!

This nonsense on the AHS website raises a number of questions:

1.         What right minded teacher would search for science education material on a historical society website?

2.         Why should Arizona taxpayers support AHS staff that is assembling science education links on the AHS website where no one would look for it?

3.         Does the AHS really think that science fluff on a historical society website could compensate for depriving tens of thousands (per school year) of students from the earth science education programs formerly provided by the mineral museum which they acquired and destroyed?


  1. Dick,

    I have been following your blog since I saw you being interviewed on ch. 15. I am a teacher and am curious as to why you have so much hatred for change and the AHS? As a teacher, my funds are constantly being cut. I often don't have the resources to take a field trip and am glad that the AHS has such great resources on-line. I have refrained from commenting on your prior posts but now I had to write.

    Here are some questions...

    Why have you made a big deal about there being a link for "women in mining?"

    Why is it bad that a history site has info on science? With the new Common Core standards being integrated, it's great that there are science links on a history site. A right minded teacher would love a site where science and social studies were connected. I'm not sure if you have ever taught in a classroom, but teachers are always looking for a way to integrate content areas.

    Again I ask, why are you such an angry man? You say that you want educational resources for teachers, yet you constantly rag on the AHS and the closing of the museum. I have taken students on a field trip to the old museum and the samples were excellent! But it had nothing to offer my kids for the way they learn today. Kids today are digital learners, it's not their fault, it's just they way things are.

    Maybe you should not continue to talk for teachers, if you aren't one. And maybe you should wait for the new Experience Museum to open before you start passing judgment. I for one am looking forward to it since the AZ Science Center took over the old history museum.

  2. Questions are good. I think that you are probably the first person to ask any. Thank you. We should have more public discussion of these issues.

    Specific answers to your questions (as I see them) are as follows:

    1. There is nothing wrong with an article about women in mining, but why is it the link posted under a science education icon? It is irrelevant and a distraction.

    2. The AHS is state funded. Taxpayer’s should not be funding a historical society to do science education. If a private historical society chooses to do it, fine.

    3. A lot of taxpayers are angry because we are now paying the AHS over a half million dollars a year to do absolutely nothing in the empty former mineral museum building. The mineral museum was eliminated even though the funds for the experience museum were never raised. There is no reason to believe that the $15 million (or more?) experience museum will ever be built.


    The ABC 15 interview you saw was about Centennial Way. That boondoggle wasted Federal stimulus money an all taxpayers should be outraged.

    I am not a teacher. I am a retired aerospace engineer who was also once a military technical instructor.

    Your great confidence in digital learning is misplaced. Please visit the Marley Center Museum in Tempe to see what a very short useful life a digital interactive museum has. Taxpayers should not have to pay for that mistake again.

    All teachers do not agree with you. Most teachers told mineral museum staff they desperately need real, hands on teaching materials for earth science. A computer cannot effectively teach a student about the difference between sandstone, marble, and basalt.

    Mining companies and universities have ample information on the internet to assist teachers. Taxpayers do not need to fund the AHS to post redundant information.

    And finally, the AHS is destroying history!

    1. Thank you for your review of my views and posting them. I'll be honest, I was surprised you did so. I didn't think you would as you don't seem like someone open the opinions of others. But I guess you are. I'm still confused however.

      First of all, I do realize the ABC 15 report was about the sidewalks. I Googled you and found your blog. In regards to your career, thank you for helping the military.

      How is my great confidence in digital learning misplaced? Are you saying that focusing in on how kids today learn and meeting those needs is wrong? Maybe you would benefit from visiting a classroom and be witness to the challenges teachers face today. We are constantly battling the popular digital distractions kids have at home. When you, myself, and other teachers were younger, we weren't exposed to the digital world of today. Therefore in order for teachers today to be successful, even on field trips there must be a technology element in order for kids to learn from the experience. So I ask, was the goal of the MMM for kids or senior citizens?

      I would never expect all teachers to agree with me, and in turn, I would not expect all teachers to agree with you.

      How is the AHS destroying history? History never goes away? It's not tangible. I doubt the good people at AHS are purposely destroying things.

      You, having experience in the military, should know that change is needed and is good. If the military didn't change with the times, it would not be successful. The same ideas go for education and museums. People and places must adapt to survive.

      And back to your transparent hate for AHS, I again ask why? Why is it AHS's fault for the museum, if it was the governor who ordered it to be changed? From your "About this Blog" section...

      The legislature passed and the Governor signed Arizona House Bill 2251 which transfers the museum and facility to the Arizona Historical Society. The bill requires the historical society to convert the facility into the Arizona Centennial Museum which will feature cotton, citrus, cattle, copper, and climate. The original June 5th posting provides detail on how this bill became law.

      They are just doing what the legislature and governor told them to do. Now you might wonder why I'm continuing to defend AHS? It's because I feel that the views and tone you illustrate on your blog resemble bullying tendencies. Bullies try to bring down others because they feel bad about something in their life. Is this what you are doing? If it is, then you are setting a bad example for your followers. If you are truly upset about the MMM closing, then perhaps you should communicate with the legislature and/or the governor not tear down the AHS for trying to educate and make the world a better place. Again, they are just doing their job. Teachers encounter this issue all the time. They are constantly blamed for their lack of knowledge when in fact it is the parents who are the first teachers of their kids. Parents should not blame the teachers and you should not blame the AHS.

      So Dick, I challenge you to be patient and give the new museum a shot to succeed rather than chastising it before it even opens.

      Give it time. It's history, like wine, it's only getting better with age.

    2. Time Out! I was a member of the team that negotiated the amendment that established the 5 C's (specifically named} Centennial Museum,Mining and Mineral Museum. AHS was present during the negotiations. The amended bill passed and the Governor signed it! It is now part of AHS statutes.

      AHS was to develop the 5 C's Centennial Museum and "house" the MMM. They did house the MMM for 8-9 months and then stopped. No legislator or the
      Governor has the authority to demand that AHS violate a statute and AHS should not have agreed. AHS has potential legal problems over this. It's not about digital vs. hands-on, both are good and should now be in the building. Obviously many teachers and
      students used the MMM and loved hands-
      on. Digital displays, if AHS can afford and maintain them are great.

  3. Maybe the teacher who made the recent comment should be asked whether she (or he) has ever taken her class to see the AHS Museum at the Marley Center? Broken "interactive" exhibits, boring exhibits. Compare that to her visit to the destroyed Mineral and Mining Museum. Does she think for a minute that the AHS could do better with another 15 million dollars??
    Anyway it looks like the the 15 million dollars will not be raised And the taxpayers will get a wonderful website instead. How wonderful.

    1. I have taken my class to both museums and my students enjoyed the digital interactive exhibits much more.

      Yes, I for one am excited and looking forward to the changes at the former MMM. Having a museum displaying a wider range of AZ topics will be great!

      How can you say that the money will not be raised? Do you work for the AHS, do you have inside information? As I said to Dick, why not let the museum open and then make your mind up.

  4. I’m an educator too, and must take exception to many of the teacher’s statements. Digital learning is great, but if you want to inspire, hands-on with the real thing is even better. AHS was given the golden egg, an extremely successful self-supporting earth science museum that students and their teachers loved. They shut it down and destroyed it and now are trying to present themselves as science savvy with links and pictures of minerals and materials developed by the Mining and Mineral Museum! They could have done that and kept the MMM! The internet is loaded with excellent resources (64 pages each) for rocks, minerals, geology, earth science and Common Core Standards. The closing of the MMM and moving Gov. Rose Mofford’s beautiful historic collection out was unfortunate and unnecessary. The anger Dick and many, many others feel about AHS’s actions, that resulted in an empty building, is very justified. The Science Center did not control the Phoenix History Museum; it failed by itself, and now the Science Center is using the space. That’s quite different from what AHS did to the MMM for no good reason. They and others failed to raise the money for the secretive and expensive Experience Museum, but destroyed the MMM anyway. Something is very wrong with this picture and we don’t need a computer to figure it out. Let’s get the MMM back!

    1. First of all, congrats on also being a teacher! We are two of the luckiest people in the world!!!

      I agree, hands on is great, but as today's students progress, their lives and educational careers will become even more digital. We must respect that!

      As I said to Dick, in his "About this Blog" section, he states that the legislature and governor instructed the AHS to create to new museum. Why are you attacking the AHS? They are doing what they were told. You might see it as destroying a museum and making a website, but I see it as adapting to the changing world.

      Give the new museum a chance before you judge. Set a good example as a teacher!!!

    2. After considering all of the comments I have to conclude that I, as an educator, was correct in supporting the MMM and the many teachers and students who begged the AHS and Governor to keep it open. The bullying is not by Dick, its by the Governor and AHS, violating AHS statutes and not caring if an historic and valued museum is destroyed. I'm very appalled at the collusion and corruption involved in this mess. It's worse than I thought. The colluders have not raised enough money to build,
      even if they were willing to share the building. I really want to know who is going to maintain the secret Experience Museum. AHS and the Governor need to answer the legitimate questions about this project. They were given a chance, and blew it! Dick, you are obviously a dedicated researcher and need to continue to expose this and, even if you are not a teacher, thanks for supporting our kids who are the real victims.

  5. The digital interactive displays at the Marley Museum don't work because they have not been maintained. That is the big problem with the new hi-tech museums. The Experience Museum has failed to raise the money to even build it after two years! Has the legislature agreed to pay for the maintenance?

  6. The "interactive" exhibits at AHS Marley Center dont work. The exhibits are lame. In response to an earlier comment, no I dont believe that AHS will raise any money for the "museum". Their Board of Directors sure wont and private donors sure won't show up. They are already talking about not doing the project. Maybe the public will get an expensive website instead. School tours and the public want to see the REAL thing whether it be minerals or history artifacts...if you dont then go buy a book or watch it on the internet.Woosley and the AHS cannot raise any kind of money. They now own three large museums. All of them without very many people going inside.Think I am wrong....go visit the museums. Ask someone who works there how many people go inside. In fact ask their administration....You paid for the operation of that facility, you the taxpayer. The AHS has never admitted their attendance. The Arizona State Parks always has and in the public media. The AHS doesnt want you to know. They are ashamed. Their Board doesnt care or are too dumb to care.

  7. Its not a battle of interactive digital displays vs. hands on displays. It's about AHS trying to hire an expensive east coast exhibits company while they do the Governors bidding for a lame concept museum. The 5 "C"'s for God sake. The AHS has cast the minerals to the wind. They will probably never come back. A waste. A horrible waste. I for one will be very happy when the "Centennial" is long gone. Typical of Arizona we screwed it up again. Nobody really cares.

  8. This gets better all the time! Why didn't AHS put some sample digital displays upstairs in the MMM? Now I get it. AHS and the Governor (and who else?}already had a designer and were willing to violate AHS statutes to get control of the whole building. We, the public, have never been told what's supposed to be in the unauthorized Experience Museum.

  9. The AHS has some kind of presence at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show? So what's that all about? Are they showing Arizona history, or mining and minerals? The radio program that I heard it on said the AHS was dragging out Geronimo's rifle and Wyatt Earps pistol.Woosley loves bringhing out those artifacts to impress people. How about impressing people in the museums you control? Are you promoting a mineral museum? I thought you were going to build an "Experience" museum. Whatever that is supposed to be?

  10. Guns at the Gem and Mineral Show? Maybe we'll get lucky and they will have a digital presentation to show us how much better that is.