Utah support grows for higher pay for teachers

July 26, 2006

Earlier I noted what appears to be support from Utah State Board of Education member Tim Beagley for increasing teacher pay. Here’s an editorial from BYU.net, a feature of Brigham Young University, which tends to support the idea. When the conservative end of Utah politics pushes for more money for teachers, can teacher pay raises be far behind? It’s a situation worth watching.

Utah once led the nation in education attainment, and that lead made it an interesting candidate for a tech boom. Rapid growth in the state in the past 15 years led to entirely new problems, including a slow erosion of the strength of the public schools. Utah stumbled. Watching attempts to recover will be interesting. The demographics of the state in the past made Utah examples inapplicable to other states or cities to some policy makers, but the growth made Utah more diverse. It’s worth watching to see if we can learn from Utah’s experience and experiments.

A technology-literate state school board — I also discovered that another member of the Utah board has been blogging for much longer than Mr. Beagley: Tom Gregory has a blog, alt-tag.com. The board has 15 members. I wonder whether other states have a higher percentage of members who have taken to blogging — do you know of any in your state?

Update: Gregory responded at his blog, noting that only two of the Utah board are bloggers, that he knows of. The idea of public officials actually using the internet to discuss policy, seriously, is a bracing idea.

Update July 27:  Shut Up and Teach, a blog about education and policy in Arizona, points to a news story in the Tucson Daily Star that average teacher salary in the U.S. fell in the past year, while average superintendent salary rose.  Acerbic comments accompany the story.

Cleaning up around the edges

July 26, 2006

Several functions of WordPress did not function for me — on a hunch, I switched from Internet Express to my Mozilla browser, and most of the functions magically popped up. I’ve been cleaning up the categories of posts and tweaking a few other things to make the site easier for readers. Nothing should be deleted, but let me know if something either disappears or stops working. And I’ll be using Mozilla here a lot more.

Mayflower catechism, no.

July 26, 2006

Dispatches from the Culture Wars features a set of comments on an interview right-right-wing pundit John Lofton did with Roy Moore, the former chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court who lost his job when he illegally tried to force his religion on the court and on Alabama. This year Moore ran for governor of Alabama, losing in the primary election.

Mayflower Compact. It's a contract between people.  God is a witness, but not a party.

Mayflower Compact. It’s a contract between people. God is a witness, but not a party.

One of the grandest canards in current thought about U.S. history is that the Mayflower Compact set up a theocracy in Massachusetts. Lofton and Moore banter about it as if it were well established fact — or as if, as I suspect, neither of them has looked at the thing in a long time, and that neither of them has ever diagrammed the operative sentence in the thing.

The Mayflower Compact was an agreement between the people in two religiously disparate groups, that among them they would fairly establish a governing body to fairly make laws, and that they would abide by those laws. Quite the opposite of a theocracy, this was the first time Europeans set up in the New World a government by consent of the governed. That is something quite different from a theocracy. Read the rest of this entry »

Improve learning — speak informally

July 26, 2006

Hey, it’s a history blog, so I can refer back to stuff we missed, right?

Especially for teachers, go read this entry in Creating Passionate Users.

The author is a techie, but she’s talking about writing clearly (are you listening Texas teachers whose kids have to write well to get promoted?). She’s also discussing simple presentations, the type any business person does, the kind teachers and professors do all the time. And she has research to back her claims, that informal language improves student learning significantly. Not slang, not slouchy language — just not the formal, stilted stuff found in most textbooks.

Arrgghh! Textbooks! A subject for another rant, another day.

False Quotes Department: Jefferson, Kerry, Tim and Josh

July 26, 2006

Catching false quotes is a key goal of this enterprise.

Back in April, Josh at The Everyday Economist linked to Tim Blair with an almost snarky catch of John Kerry citing a line from Jefferson that, alas, Jefferson didn’t write or say. Tim links to The Jefferson Library. It’s short; here’s the entirety of Tim’s post:

John Kerry:

No wonder Thomas Jefferson himself said: “Dissent is the greatest form of patriotism.”

The Jefferson Library:

There are a number of quotes that we do not find in Thomas Jefferson’s correspondence or other writings; in such cases, Jefferson should not be cited as the source. Among the most common of these spurious Jefferson quotes [is]:

* “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Jefferson could have said something like that (and did — posts for another time, perhaps). I don’t find this common error nearly so irritating as those where a founder is quoted saying quite the opposite of what he or she would have said, or did say. Read the rest of this entry »

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