Tony prep school grads beat up teachers after school

I can’t say that I’m too terribly surprised (h/t commenter Indyanna for the link).  But it’s rather striking that all of these bigshot educrats are known for pushing standardized testing, rather than advocating the small classes, the well-designed and maintained academic buildings, the nutritious meals, and the creative and rigorous teaching they all enjoyed in their school days.  (If they didn’t enjoy all of these things, then why did their parents pay the bills?  Were they economically irrational, or deluded fools, or both?)  Is this because prep school grads are overwhelmingly unable to appreciate the different challenges and burdens of our public schools, or is it that the only prep school grads who join the educratic elite all agree to ignore the economic discrepancies between their fancy schools and wealthy classmates, and the reality of most public schools in the U.S. today? Continue reading

Is there a Whole Foods in Lowell yet? Plus advice & links on job searches

I love the sea vegetable salad!

Today’s post is a roundup of sorts–be sure to click to read a follow-up question from yesterday’s War on Teachers post, and also to see more linky goodness below. 

But, to the matter at hand:  I just couldn’t resist this.  According to the Boston Globe’s Joan Venocchi, organized labor’s big problem is that they desperately need makeovers:

All the classic accessories were on display at last week’s union rally in downtown Boston: Burly guys in sweatshirts hoisted “Solidarity’’ signs. The song “We’re Not Gonna Take It’’ thumped in the background. Cigarette smoke and angry rhetoric filled the air.

“We’re going to hold those sons of bitches accountable,’’ bellowed Rich Rogers, executive secretary of the Greater Boston Labor Council. This time, labor’s ire was directed at State Street Corp., which confirmed that it expects to receive a federal tax refund of $855 million for 2010 — even though this Boston-based recipient of a $2 billion taxpayer bailout reported a $1.6 billion profit last year.

That really is outrageous. But watching the usual suspects take on the injustice of it all in their usual fashion felt a lot like watching Snooki in “Jersey Shore.’’ Stereotypes make entertaining TV, but they don’t always get action or respect.

This is pretty funny coming from someone working in a dying industry.  Here in Colorado, the flagship university has shuttered its School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and I can’t count the numbers of students I have who either started as journalism majors or who completed their degrees and are seeking a second B.A. in History–History–because it seems like a more practical choice!  I suppose it is more practical if only because however beleagured History departments are, we’re likely to stick around because we’ve been a part of the curricula for several hundred years now.

How can it be that white collar, college-educated “information workers” like newspaper reporters and columnists are all scrambling for work, when they all shop (or aspire to shop) at Whole Foods and use “summer” as a verb?  Continue reading

The War on Teachers: Mr. Gradgrind's Rhee-education for teachers

As we suspected, the Thomas Gradgrinds of the world are busy proliferating in school administrations across the nation because of school “Rhee-form” measures that push teachers to focus on facts only, and only those facts immediately relevant to the subject matter they’re teaching.  A friend of a friend who teaches High School American and World History in a wealthy school district writes about a recent evaluation by her principal:

Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”  This quote was put on my white board for the daily “Do Now” which is a warm up  activity for students while I take roll.  I read it to the kids and provide a bit of background for context.  Besides quotes, I sometimes put up SAT vocab words. 

We have a new principal who came in for an informal eval the day I had this quote on the board. When we met to discuss my eval,  he told me it was inappropriate as I am not teaching philosophy….”everything I do in class must be connected to the US History content standards for testing purposes.”    When I, rather perplexed, explained that I use quotes to inspire my students–from philosophers, world leaders, authors, scientists, proverbs–and that for example, when we our studying WWII, Churchill–that historical actors provide us with a wealth of wisdom which is one of the benefits of knowing history–he told me that I am not teaching philosophy, and that “good teachers” find a way to inspire while teaching their subject content.   Continue reading

Seminal developments: entitled sexist a$$holes divide surgeons' group

This would actually be a pretty funny story for The Onion, if it weren’t in fact true (h/t to my horrified physician friend KV):

A Valentine’s Day editorial in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons has set off a firestorm of controversy that has divided the largest professional organization of surgeons in the country and raised questions about the current leadership and its attitudes toward women and gay and lesbian members.

The editorial, written by Dr. Lazar J. Greenfield, an emeritus professor of surgery at the University of Michigan School of Medicine and president-elect of the American College of Surgeons, extols the mood-enhancing effects of semen on women. It begins with a reference to the mating behaviors of fruit flies, then goes on to discuss studies on the menstrual cycles of heterosexual and lesbian women who live together. Citing the research of evolutionary psychologists at the State University of New York, it describes how female college students who had been exposed to semen were less depressed than their peers who had not, concluding: “So there’s a deeper bond between men and women than St. Valentine would have suspected, and now we know there’s a better gift for that day than chocolates.”

.       .       .       .       .       .       .       .      

The organization has more than 75,000 members (I am one). Roughly 10 percent are women. There are five women on the organization’s 22-member governing board; this month, they issued a letter requesting that Dr. Greenfield step down as president-elect. The entire board is set to vote on the issue on Sunday.

Seriously.  Re-read those paragraphs again.  Especially the part about how this was published in the official newspaper of the American College of Surgeons.  And click on the link, too, to be informed by the headline “Sexism charges divide surgeons’ group.”  That’s right:  sexism charges are dividing the group, not the disgusting sexist behavior itself. Continue reading

Big news from Williamsburg!

How many times have you seen that in a headline in this century? 

First of all, there’s a Visiting Assistant Professor position in early American history for academic year 2011-12 “with the possibility of renewal.”  The job carries a 2-3 course load and a wonderful community of other early Americanist faculty and graduate students.  One year in Williamsburg seems just about right.  (It reminds me of that old W.C. Fields joke:  “First Prize, one week in Philadelphia!  Second Prize, two weeks in Philadelphia!”)

Secondly, we see that the deadline is nigh for short-term fellowships from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for projects that are closely related to the collections of the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Library, “with its distinguished collection of primary and secondary sources relating to eighteenth-century Williamsburg, the colonial Chesapeake, African American studies, decorative arts and material culture through 1830, archaeology, architectural history, digital history, and historic preservation. An important component of the work of the Foundation’s Division of Research and Historical Interpretation, Rockefeller Library fellowships primarily support research on topics related to British America, the American Revolution, and the Early Republic.”  Continue reading

Newsflash: Excellence Costs Money!

So says Sarah Lawrence College President Karen Lawrence about her college’s rating as the most expensive in the U.S.:

That’s partly because over 90 percent of all Sarah Lawrence classes are small seminars (with an average of 11 students) and every seminar includes a “conference” component in which each student designs an independent project and meets biweekly with the professor to confer on progress. This is essentially a tutorial in the Oxford-Cambridge tradition. Also in that tradition, we assign each student a don, a full-time faculty member who serves as his or her adviser, mentor, and intellectual guide. Donning is necessary because Sarah Lawrence students are accountable for designing their own education in a curriculum with concentrations instead of majors, so the don’s expertise and individual knowledge of each student is consequently invaluable in helping chart the best possible academic course.

Like much at Sarah Lawrence, donning may be difficult to justify on a purely economic basis, as is our refusal to use graduate students as teaching assistants or our insistence on providing extensive written evaluations of each student in each course in addition to grades. But we maintain these standards because we believe the customized, “handcrafted” education we provide helps ensure that each student achieves his or her greatest potential. And like anything handcrafted, it is significantly more cost-intensive, and thus more costly, than what’s produced on an assembly line. Continue reading

A thrilling apotheosis of the multi-millennia struggle against douchehounds

Today I give you Richard Cohen’s frustrations with Barack Obama’s Post-Partisan Unity Schtick:

The trouble with this non-doctrine doctrine is that it lacks poetry. It is up to the president as leader to provide that poetry. He has to make us connect his values to our own. Obama could do that in the presidential campaign because he was the thrilling apotheosis of the multi-century struggle against racism. You could not vote for Obama and not have felt that somehow you had fired a shot in the Civil War or ridden a freedom bus into the Jim Crow South. That was a revolution, just as grand as this year’s in Egypt — and it will, for sure, end better.

Yes, that’s right:  voting for Obama was the functional equivalent of serving in the Civil War, being a freedom rider, or risking imprisonment, beatings, and rape for standing up to the Mubarak regime this year.  That’s funny–it didn’t seem all that dangerous or dramatic down at the Lutheran church fellowship hall where I waited in line to cast my ballot back in 2008.  And I’m sure it’s just a complete accident that Cohen dreams that his vote is the equivalent of doing very tough, d00dly things like going to war or confronting violent regimes.

It’s almost too easy  to point out how hopelessly fatuous this is.  What I find more worthy of note is what a striking contrast Cohen’s fantasy offers to the fantasies that many so-called liberal white men harbored about Hillary Clinton in 2007-08.  Continue reading