Updated June 02, 2016 |
The End of Teacher Tenure As We Know It?
Teacher tenure in our public schools is under attack. Will tenure as we know it survive? Some thoughts here.
A couple of years ago when tenure for professors began to look like a thing of the past, I remember thinking that tenure for K-12 teachers would probably be next on the chopping block. And so the rumblings which I thought I heard off in the distance were indeed the precursor of a serious storm. With that in mind let's explore the issue and try to understand what is happening with the concept of teacher tenure in the United States.
The California decision
The judge in the case certainly came down hard against teacher tenure. I am not a lawyer but it seemed to me that the root of his judicial displeasure was the way the California statutes had been written. To understand where those laws originated, you have to go back in time to the early part of the twentieth century and indeed even earlier. Back then teachers could be fired when ever a school board or administrator decided. Essentially teachers had no due process. Teacher protection in the form of tenure was a German idea which began to take hold across the United States back in the 1920s and 1930s. Tenure also curbed another abuse of the teaching profession which was interference from politicians. Teaching positions were considered patronage plums that politicians handed out.
In my opinion tenure for public K-12 teachers was a necessary protection a hundred years ago. But as with all things the times have changed. Since pbulic education is governed and
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Updated June 02, 2016 |
Get Help Writing Your Child's Admissions' Essay?
Surely no parent would think of writing their child's admissions essay, would they? You never know.
There was an interview article entitled Early Decision in Inside Higher Education which examined the issue of having a tutor or other professional help write your child's college admissions essay. It got me thinking about the type of parent who feels he or she must always 'improve' their child's work. Up to and including things like admissions essays which are supposed to be their children's own work.
Well, the article to which I referred above was focused on college admissions essays. Might not the same practice take place in private secondary schools? I suppose it is possible but probably unlikely. I remember when I was interviewing students for R-E-S-P-E-C-T Academy in Nassau, Bahamas. Part of the interview process included having the applicant sit at another table while her parents and I chatted. The applicant was given a sheet of paper and a pen and asked to write a paragraph or two about some simple topic. "My favorite meal" or something like that. There was absolutely no way the parents could interfere with their child's writing. She had to do it all by herself.

Think of the admissions essay as a snapshot

Why is writing your own admissions essay so important? Because the admissions staff wants to know what your child thinks, what her opinions are and how she arrives at those conclusions. An essay synthesizes so many things which your child has learned over the years.  An essay provides a window into your child's
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Updated June 02, 2016 |
How Tutoring Should Work
The National Tutoring Association has laid out an effective roadmap for how tutoring should work.
The National Tutoring Association has crafted a fine Code of Ethics for its members. While I am well aware that most tutors do not belong to a national organization such as the NTA, nonetheless the NTA's Code of Ethics present a set of guidelines by which you and I as parents can evaluate the tutors we hire for our children. For sake of this discussion I also include any teacher who primarily works on a 1 on 1 basis as a tutor. For example, piano, art and dance instructors, as well as the math and English tutors you will expect to encounter.
Using the NTA's Code of Ethics I have offered comments on each of their tenets. Use these comments to help you assess and evaluate any tutor you hire.
Code of Ethics
The National Tutoring Association is dedicated to providing its members with opportunities to achieve and maintain high professional standards for tutors and administrators of tutoring programs and services.
I understand that my role as a tutor is to enable students to do their own work using the best learning approach possible.  
RK: The extra time and attention which a tutor affords his students makes it possible for them to understand the material presented. More importantly a tutor can take time to explain the variations and possibilities inherent in the original problem so that his student is able to recognize them when they do occur. Equipping students to do their own work is vital.
I will provide honest feedback in the
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Updated June 02, 2016 |
Are We Hovering Too Much?
Some parents feel that they have to protect their children. All the time. Everywhere.
The other day I heard about a father who was bemoaning the fact that his nineteen year old son was a mess. The gist of this father's complaint was that he had done so much for his child but nothing seemed to be appreciated.  I totally understand the complexities and pitfalls of raising children in the 21st century. It is a scary, very different world from the one I was raised in back in the 50s and 60s, for sure. It is a much different world from the one in which we raised our four children. And, yes, there were times - not many - when I was guilty of being a velcro or helicopter parent. I couldn't bear to see my children fail or make the mistakes I made. Unfortunately, that strategy never produced the results I was expecting.
With all this in mind let's take a look at what happens when parents over-indulge and over-protect their children.   
What do the terms "velcro" and "helicopter" parents mean?
The term "velcro parent" describes the kind of parent who sticks close to his child to protect him. The "helicopter parent" is constantly hovering around her child to protect him. Merriam Webster's Dictionary defines a helicopter parent as "a parent who is overly involved in the life of his or her child". While there is no entry for "velcro parent", one can only assume that it will not be long before there is.
Velcro and helicopter parents have their children's best interests at heart.
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Updated June 02, 2016 |
Academic Excellence: Any Future with a C Average and No Skills?
A challenging academic program combined with training in life skills is your best weapon against mediocre results.
My late father-in-law, Dr. James Garnett Lyne, used to refer to what he called 'mass mediocrity' whenever he discussed education. Like me he was a product of a public school education. Neither of our parents could afford a private school education.
What did he mean by 'mass mediocrity'? He was referring to what he feared would be the result of a general lowering of standards in our schools. He argued that the less qualified teachers were, the less they were paid and the less demanding high school curricula were, the more we as a society would descend into 'mass mediocrity'. Dr. Lyne has been gone for 45 years. Yet his prescient words still haunt me. You see, back then, I had no clue what he was talking about. None. That scholarly father-in-law of mine was given to many well-reasoned pronouncements. I figured that this was just one more and filed it away in my memory bank.

Graduates lack basic business skills
In my own daily life and work I am well aware of what high school graduates - both public and private school graduates - bring to the table. The lack of basic business communications skills is appalling. And I don't think that Twitter and texting is the reason. I remain convinced until somebody can show me otherwise that most high school students are simply not taught how to write business communications. They might have had one short lesson on that skill in English
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