It seems that every September, as the schools prepare to open, new reports about the state of America’s education are released and each seems more depressing than the next. Foundations, think tanks, politicians and professional organizations publish their papers and reports in which they basically tell us what we already know.
The numbers of American students who are equipped to compete with their peers from other areas of the world in many disciplines, including in technology, math and science, drops every year. Fewer students read and of those that do read, most are not familiar with the great classics and other high quality works of literature. Fewer students have the life skills that they will need to enter the work force after high school and a large percentage of high school students are lacking in basic general knowledge. The drop-out rate is high and fewer students are going on to college.
Figuring out the reasons for the decline in America’s educational system is the first challenge. Depending on whom you speak with you may hear that the education system is in trouble because there’s too much emphasis on testing or there’s too little emphasis on testing, because the teachers are incompetent or because the system won’t allow talented teachers to flourish, because the multi-cultural nature of the society prevents the system from functioning properly or because the system doesn’t properly harness the diversity of students, languages, cultures and ethnicities.
It’s easy to get caught up in the blame game but finding workable solutions is complex. New technologies and methodologies are being put to use in school districts throughout the country, oftentimes with good results. Teacher-training programs are relying on teacher-mentors to give teachers-in-training and new teachers the benefit of veteran teachers’ experience and knowledge.
One worrying statistic, however, comes from a recent study that was put out by the Rand Corporation, an education think tank. The study examines the outlook for American education in the 21st century and gives voice to the concern that the most talented and effective teachers — those with a high measured teaching ability — are more likely to leave their teaching positions for better-paying, less-stressful and more prestigious jobs. The study summarizes the situation, noting that while school districts differ in the extent in which their high-performing teachers are leaving the profession, all school districts are struggling with this problem. When less-experienced teachers remain in the classroom, it’s clear that the students’ don’t have the opportunity to advance at an optimal pace.
Figuring out how to encourage veteran, effective teachers to remain in the classroom is getting harder and harder. Class sizes are at an all-time high and teacher responsibilities are increasing at the same time that their salaries and benefits are decreasing. Some teacher-educators are involved in creating better teacher-training programs while other civic and governmental groups are working to raise teachers’ pay, bring community members into the schools as volunteers, improve teacher-administrator relations and provide more advancement opportunities for classroom teachers.
Public institutions are turning to private initiatives to help find a solution to this problem. One such initiative involves formally recognizing highly-effective teachers as a way to motivate these teachers as well as their colleagues to remain in the teaching profession. The Milken Family Foundation (MFF) has created a special award to address the issue of how the nation’s educational leadership can keep America’s best teachers in the classroom.
The Milken Educators Award is based on the idea that an effective teacher plays the most important role in a child’s education. Lowell Milken who created the Award, theorizes that when an exceptional teacher is recognized for his or her achievements, s/he is more likely to remain in the classroom.
MFF presents the Milken Educator Award annually to deserving teachers — our nation’s “unsung heroes” — who harness their vision and creativity to help shape their students’ successful integration into their post-school lives. Receipt of the Milken Educator Award has proven to encourage these outstanding teachers while generating enthusiasm among other educators as well.
The annual Milken Educator Awards honors highly effective K-12 teachers who teach in the public school system. Award recipients receive $25,000 that they can use for whatever they wish.
As of 2013 the Milken Family Foundation has invested over 135 million dollars in the Milken Education Award project.
This one time (…in band camp) I swore my bed was possessed. I had nightmares every night I slept in it, although, to be fair, none of them involved me spewing oatmeal or cottage cheese out of my mouth while levitating or turning my head around at a 360 degree turn, and my mom, having trouble sleeping one night, slept in it while I was off sleeping somewhere else (I can only surmise I was thoroughly up to no good). That night, she too, had a nightmare.
Clearly, the bed was possessed.
My mother and I decided that the best course of action was, naturally, to perform an exorcism. I mean, what else can you do when you have a (possibly) possessed bed? We burned some sage or incense or something and put up a crucifix that my brother had (allegedly) stolen from somewhere or another chanting, “The power of Christ compels you.”
It worked. The nightmares stopped.
I hadn’t thought about possession or The Exorcist until it dawned on me that they’d made an Exorcist Part II and then I was just plain annoyed – I mean, where can you go from there? (Answer: Egypt)
Last Wednesday, I was taking a gander at the snaps I’d taken of Alex’s first day of school on my mostly-broken iPhone and realized I should probably actually export the things to my computer. There were some pretty cute snaps in there and well, how else can I put together a long montage video to play at his high school prom? I mean, I do have a therapy fund set up for the kid – I may as well do as many horrifying things as I can while I can.
I sat all happy-crappy at my computer after plugging the glorified email machine into the back, waiting to see my gloriously bad photos get imported into iPhoto. This, of course, somehow made my computer extremely unhappy, so I had to sit there for upwards of 45 seconds while it flashed the circle button, which usually means I’ve got too many tabs open at once or have been looking at Internet porn so often that I’d managed to snag me a virus.
(better than an STD, I guess, but I’m unclear as to whether or not computers can catch those things)
Instead of my craptastic pictures taken through a broken lens, I got, well, these, which I promptly framed. Possessed iPhones don’t happen every day, y’know.
Amelia decided that the small kindergarten seats were bullshit and immediately found the teacher’s seat. At the time, she was NOT, in fact, possessed, although the doll behind her makes that statement questionable.
And my rose, which I’d been
lovingly trimming blackspot from, well, it appears to have been overtaken by The Devil. Partially.
Howdy there, Half of Alex! Happy first day of school! Don’t kill anyone, okay?
Who knew the kid was divided so neatly down the line?
This is only marginally better than the time Dave’s old camera decided that all pictures forevermore would look as though they’d come from a lens dripping with Vasoline. It was quite good for the complexion, but made everything appear to have been shot in soft-core porn lighting.
I guess it’s time for another exorcism, Pranksters.
So dish! What kinds of weird crap have your electronics done over the years?
When I was in college, back when the Internet was an primarily an IRC and not the place to find free porn by googling, “That ball with spikes on it,” intending to find a description for a Mace, not some guy wearing spikes on his ballbag, I had a group of people I chummed around with. These people, of course, didn’t include my roommate It Means Butterfly, because she spent her days hollering at me for not putting things away properly and sitting by the computer waiting for her boyfriend Dave (not The Daver) to pop up on chat.
One of my friends was a guy that I sorta kinda maybe had a crush on, James, who happened to allow me refuge in his room when It Means Butterfly and Dave made sweet, sweet, monkey love in the bunk above me. At the time, James was still pretty squarely in the closet, which means that my gaydar wasn’t nearly as well-honed as it is now.
My crush subsided, of course, as crushes are wont to do, and we became strictly friends. At least in my book.
One afternoon, It Means Butterfly happened to be out at class or something, so I had a rare moment to myself in my dorm room, which I probably spent pining for my ex-boyfriend because that’s what you do at 18. You pine for old boyfriends rather than actually enjoy your single-dom.
When the phone rang, I’d been hoping it was Pashmina down the hall who’d been trying to score some more rum so we could get properly wasted, but it wasn’t. It was my buddy, Derek.
“Hey Becky,” Derek said when I answered. “Where’s your roommate?”
“Eh,” I replied. “Not sure.”
It was quiet for several seconds, which made me want to blather on – it was an awkward kind of silence, not the sort that happens among two friends who know each other well, but something that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up like a dog.
“So….” I continued, trying to figure why he’d called me to say nothing. “What’s up?”
“Uhhhhh,” he groaned. “Not much.”
The seconds ticked by.
“How’s, um, class?” I asked, trying to begin a conversation.
“It’s (pant, pant), okay,” he said, clearly not interested in this conversation, which, to be frank, neither was I. I liked discussing class as much as I liked discussing those crappy and eerily crude forward emails my dad sent me.
Again with the silence.
“Um, so what are you doing today?” I asked him, not wanting to believe that Derek was an Uncle Pervy. I mean, this is the guy who helped me dress to go to the bar so I appeared to be older than 14. In turn, I looked like a very delightful hooker, but I thought it was hysterical.
Silence. Silence. Silence.
This was getting weird.
I began babbling because that’s what I do best when I’m awkwardly uncomfortable, “So did you hear that my dad sent me this horrible forward about some old lady and her vagina? It was totally WEIRD – I mean, he’s my dad, and Oh Em Gee, did you SEE the way Matthias’s crappy roommate has been stalking me around campus because that’s just creepers, and really I’m so hungry, wanna get some Chinese food from that shitty place that delivers and tastes like it’s probably rat meat and shit, do you think it’s actually rat meat because their beef tastes a little off and shit I wonder if that’s why it tastes like that do you think it’s actually rat meat or cat meat because either way, I feel sick to my guts now and I may need to go hork in the bathroom and did you know that someone left a bloody tampon in there because that’s so fucking gross who would do that?”
I stopped blabbering on to see what he’d do next.
All I could hear was “pant, pant, pant, pant YESSSS.”
Fucking shit. Mouth breather. Shit.
I levitated toward the phone jack, giving some laughable excuse about waxing a cat somewhere, and hung up with him.
I stared at the phone for a second before wandering down the hall to Pashmina’s room. Without knocking, I walked in:
“Dude. You’ll NEVER guess what just happened.”
New post here about what NOT to do at warehouse clubs.