The Face of the American Teacher

According to an article in USA Today this week, the average teacher in a US public school classroom is a white female in her earlier 40’s, not much different from a similar assessment in 1971. But the students in that same classroom look much different both from the teacher and from what they looked like thirty years ago.

Stating the situation is always much easier than trying to analyze it, of course. The article brings up the usual low-pay-driving-men-away argument but this is too complex an issue to explain so easily. I think a larger cause is the common view of society that teaching is a "part time" job, a second income for the family. After all, teachers only work nine months of the year, only work about six hours a day and how hard could it be to teach someone to multiply anyway.

But whatever the reason, I hope this "professor" is wrong:

The law [NCLB] requires that schools hire only "highly qualified" teachers, which means more coursework for thousands of teachers. "Many people just don’t want to go into teaching for that reason," says Evelyn Dandy, a professor of education at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga.

Anyone who is unwilling to continually update their skills by taking additional training shouldn’t be working in most professions, much less teaching. But this too is reflective of another prevalent attitude of many people. Teachers don’t need to learn any more once they’ve graduated from college, except maybe if they teach science.

Friday Random Rants

The National Do-Not-Call Registry – By all means register but don’t expect miracles. There are so many exceptions to the list (charities, political groups, poll takers, etc.) that very little will change.

Anti-Spam Laws – Once again, legislators with no concept of how the Internet works believe they can solve every problem with a law. Spam will be with us until it no longer pays for the sender or someone finds a reliable way to bounce it back. Live with it!

And Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Governor – He certainly couldn’t be any worse than the last "acting" governor of California or his occasional co-star formerly of Minnesota’s gubernatorial chair.

Iraqi Militants: "Bring ’em on!" – Who the hell gave Bush the Dirty Harry/Death Wish twin pack?

I Couldn’t Have Said it Better – Independence Day Edition

The 4th of July is the day when Americans indulge in their two favorite pastimes: drinkin’ and blowin’ stuff up. — David Letterman

The problem with the flag at this moment in our history is we’ve become masters at fooling ourselves into thinking there is a way to get everything with very little effort. It’s ridiculous we even need to be reminded of this, but just displaying a flag doesn’t actually do anything, anymore than "tying a yellow ribbon" brings home a hostage or AIDS ribbons cure. If we think we’ve done something because we went to Kmart and bought a flag, then the flag is actually hurting, not helping us. — Bill Maher, When You Ride Alone You Ride with Bin Laden

Idiots Shouldn’t Be Allowed To Sue

The Seattle School Board will be courting a legal challenge if it renews a five-year contract with Coca-Cola, a nationally prominent lawyer warned yesterday. George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf III said vending machines in schools will be a key target of a new movement combating an "epidemic of childhood obesity." Banzhaf, a driving force behind the lawsuits that have cost tobacco companies billions of dollars, has turned his attention in recent months to the junk food served by fast-food franchises like McDonald’s and by school districts in Seattle and elsewhere. [from the Seattle Times]

Bottom line: schools shouldn’t be selling stuff that’s bad for kids. Not because they could be sued but because it’s the right thing to do. But beyond junk food in schools, this article raises the larger issue of sleazy lawyers like Banzhaf suing companies over the stupid things people do to themselves. You have got to be extremely dense not to know that cigarettes cause cancer, cappuccino is high in sugar and fast food is high in calories, fat and salt. But don’t blame Phillip Morris, Starbucks or McDonalds for selling this crap. As an adult, you made the choice to buy it and, in the process, taught your kids to do the same!

As for Coke, read the *&*@^%$# label on the bottle, people. There is nothing in there but sugar and water. Drinking lots of it while sitting in front of the tube (and eating lots of fatty snacks) is going to make you fat. Besides, Pepsi is better. :-)

I Couldn’t Have Said it Better

"U.S. officials need to get our [expletive] out of here. I say that seriously. We have no business being here. We will not change the culture they have in Iraq, in Baghdad. Baghdad is so corrupted. All we are here is potential people to be killed and sitting ducks." — Staff Sgt. Charles Pollard, a 43-year-old reservist from Pittsburgh, who arrived in Iraq with the 307th Military Police Company on May 24 (as reported in the Washington Post)