Monday, August 01, 2011
Monday, June 13, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
I finished a chapter about whether the hiring process in the teaching profession is flawed. There certainly seems to be some problems there.
Ideally a school should be able to hire and fire the teachers they decide are best for their institution. Instead they are beholden to a series of agreements and laws that force them to conduct much of the hiring and firing in the early spring, months before the school year begins and the actual demand for teachers in known. They are also unable to keep the teachers they want and remove the ones they decide are a poor fit, or are not producing enough. Instead they are forced to eliminate the most junior teacher without any other consideration. I heard recently that in one state the "teacher of the year" was pink-slipped because he was the most junior. If a school is forced to fire the best teacher the state has to offer because of a union agreement, or state law, then something is wrong.
It creates a system in which the school that just made an effort to find the teacher they decided was the best for their school through a rigorous hiring process is forced to release that teacher at the end of the year, just in case they will no longer need him because they will be unable to release him in the fall. Furthermore they cannot release another teacher who may have grown complacent or even belligerent and spiteful. Nope, the school is forced to release the teachers they recently sought after and gladly placed in their classroom. Imagine baseball teams releasing their most recent draft pick to save money rather than the player who has not produced for the past few years and his past his prime. A team owner would likely not make that decision, but schools are forced to do exactly that. They cut the newest teachers who are energetic, and full of inspiration and insight from their recent studies, even though they are inexperienced.
I would like to see some change in the way in which teachers are hired and fired in our schools. This may seem simple but it will not be easy. It will pit teachers against each other, but this is already the case so until we address this problem it will continue. President Obama mentioned getting rid of poor teachers and encouraging new and enthusiastic ones, but so far I have not seen a change. I was worried when I heard him make the point in his campaign that he did not know how much influence the union had over education. This is not the whole of the challenge, but it would do well to allow schools to have more influence over their own staff.
This was a sonnet I wrote for my wife on Valentine 's Day. For whatever reason, I have been writing them again. I like sonnets. Most of my students hate them and complain about having to write them for English class, but I try to redeem the form for them. They can be a little challenging, but I like the challenge of having to force poetry into a concrete structure. Anyways…here it is.
They say that today I should love you more.
Somehow this day, they call the day of love,
Supposed to increase my love from before.
They know all about what love is made of.
Two dozen roses can surely melt hearts.
Or loads of fancy chocolates perhaps.
Men don't forget to get them lovely cards.
Diamonds may be forever, but I'll pass.
Sure roses are red, but soon they'll be dead.
Candy is sweet, but how much can you eat?
Cards are great, but can't keep you warm in bed.
Jewels wonderful, until the bill you greet.
But none of these can say any better,
More than today, I'll love you forever.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
I recently watched "Hot Tub Time Machine," which was plenty funny even while using a silly concept. It was cute, had some good dry humor, through some bare boobs in to draw the 15 year olds and so was probably not the worst movie I've ever seen. For me it reminded me of how much I hate time travel as a plot point. It is one thing if you are trying to use time travel to make some sort of philosophical point. I like Christmas Carol, and Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, both which bend the rules of time, but when you use it to correct only to get the writer out of a corner he backed his self into, it is really annoying. Star Trek did it with their recent movie and it pissed me off. In Star Trek 4 they went back in time, but it was to correct a problem in the future. They went back and then forward again, and didn't travel around randomly changing the plot and course of the story as they went as well as the characters who are affected every time a change is made. It just seems lazy to me. It doesn't allow the reader to predict what might happen and not in a good way. Readers like to anticipate the next page, and like to be fooled, but also like to believe that the plot is possible. With time travel all of that is removed. You can't predict what might happen because rime travel is not based in normal human understanding. Even for the science fiction reader the plot and characters can get too complicated to follow. So I vow to never use time travel as a literary tool. Except that I have a story that features it a bit…ok, I guess you can use it, but don't expect me to like it. And "Hot Tub Time Machine" was still funny even if the idea of traveling time in a hot tub with drunken naked men is dumb.