Why I would vote for Ted Cruz

Okay, not really.  But his campaign has now produced what is easily one of my favorite campaign commercials ever.  And if you don’t get this, how have you never watched Office Space?!

Photo of the day

Wow– terrific gallery (not surprisingly) of winners from 2016 World Press Photo contest, via In Focus:

Nature, first prize winner, singles. From “Storm Front on Bondi Beach,” A massive ‘cloud tsunami’ looms over Sydney as a sunbather reads, oblivious to the approaching cloud on Bondi Beach, on November 6, 2015.

I ♥ teachers (and they deserve more money)

Last night was curriculum night at my son’s high school and we went to meet teachers and hear presentations to help him pick out classes for next year.  Obviously, through 16 years and four kids I’ve been to a lot of schools and met a lot of teachers, so tonight was not particularly unusual, but I could nonetheless not helped but be truly impressed by the enthusiasm and commitment of so many of the teachers I met.  It was truly heartening.  We were there till almost 8 meaning many of the teachers at been there well over 12 hours and they still had genuine enthusiasm for talking about the possibilities of my child in their class next year.  That’s just awesome.

On a related note, I came home and saw this nice Atlantic post about paying teachers more.  It’s not a panacea, but it would sure help, and there’s a lot of nice, useful, cross-national context here:

Mallerie Niemann, a student teacher in Central California who’s slated to finish up her credentialing program in May, said she’s “skeptical” the kinds of pay increases under consideration in other states will make much of a difference for teachers. “I wonder how much a salary [raise] can really influence productivity—how well you perform your job, how much you enjoy your job,” she said. “It’s more support from the community, more support from the administration that are really going to have influence.” In fact, Niemann plans to take a year off to travel after getting her certificate—even though delaying her foray into teaching means she’ll make thousands less in the long run.

Salary increases may, however, prove to be an important tool in stabilizing the teaching force in the short term by sending the message to educators that the time and energy they sacrifice for their jobs aren’t being taken for granted. The Metlife survey found that roughly two in three public-school teachers felt their salaries weren’t fair for the work they do, and chances are that percentage has only grown as a result of new classroom reforms, including high-stakes evaluation systems, that some argue have placed excessive burdens on educators…

It’s also worth noting that while teachers in the U.S. make about the same as their counterparts elsewhere, they tend to clock in many more hours: A New York Timesanalysis of OECD data found that U.S. teachers spend an average of about 1,080 hours teaching annually, compared to the OECD average of about 700 to 800 hours depending on the grade level. Meanwhile, the difference in pay between high-school teachers and other college graduates is much larger in the U.S. than it is in other OECD countries on average. In other words, a little extra pay may help reduce some of those international disparities and give U.S. teachers—both current and prospective—a small but significant morale boost.

Not mentioned here, but very much worth noting is that paying teachers better would help the prestige of the occupation, which would surely lead to both higher-quality college students seeking out a teaching career and more respect and support for teachers once they were in that career.  All this stuff is inter-related.  Money really does matter.  But, since this article also includes one of my favorite points:

But perhaps more importantly, districts, he said, also have to ensure teachers have quality opportunities to both improve their craft and contribute “[to decision-making] at a higher level than they currently do. They need to feel bought in.” And these kinds of interactions are proven to elevate student achievement; an analysis of more than 1,000 studies found that students scored 21 percentage points higher than average on standardized tests when their teachers had access to ongoing professional support and training.

What you sure don’t see as a meaningful solution from anywhere else in the world is evaluating teachers by student test scores.

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