11:03 AM, Oct 29, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Time magazine has a cover story out that's causing a fair amount of outrage, but for all the wrong reasons. The story is headlined, "Rotten Apples: It's nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher. Some tech millionaires may have found a way to change that." Since then, some 70,000 people signed an online petition calling for a public apology over Time's supposed smearing of teachers. Time has sensibly invited a series of responses to the piece on its website.
Now the merits of corporate meddling in public education are debatable -- see Andrew Ferguson's piece on Common Core standards for more on that -- but that's not what has allegedly enraged teachers. It is not even remotely controversial that firing teachers is notoriously difficult, but the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the union orchestrating the Time backlash, lives in some sort of fantasyland where they think that it's outrageous to tell this obvious truth. In 2010, L.A. Weekly -- no one's idea of a conservative anti-teacher, anti-union media outlet -- did a little investigation of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the largest school district in the country:
But the far larger problem in L.A. is one of "performance cases" — the teachers who cannot teach, yet cannot be fired. Their ranks are believed to be sizable — perhaps 1,000 teachers, responsible for 30,000 children. But in reality, nobody knows how many of LAUSD's vast system of teachers fail to perform. Superintendent Ramon Cortines tells the Weekly he has a "solid" figure, but he won't release it. In fact, almost all information about these teachers is kept secret.
But the Weekly has found, in a five-month investigation, that principals and school district leaders have all but given up dismissing such teachers. In the past decade, LAUSD officials spent $3.5 million trying to fire just seven of the district's 33,000 teachers for poor classroom performance — and only four were fired, during legal struggles that wore on, on average, for five years each. Two of the three others were paid large settlements, and one was reinstated. The average cost of each battle is $500,000.
That's right. Out of 33,000 teachers, only four were fired for poor performance over the course of a decade. Firing teachers is such a problem there's even a term of art, "the dance of the lemons," that refers to how bad teachers are shuffled from one school to the next as parents get wise to their professional shortcomings. After being shamed by L.A. Weekly's report, the LAUSD promised reform but the problem does not appear to have gotten better. USA Today reported earlier this year that "an average of 2.2 teachers a year are dismissed for unsatisfactory performance" in the entire state of California.
The responses published by Time from teacher representatives are both unserious and denial of an obvious problem in public education. None of them present any real facts about teacher tenure, and instead assert various other canards as being the real reason public education is failing. Here's Randi Weingarten, the president of the AFT:
Yes, there is a real problem facing America’s teaching profession, but it has nothing to do with tenure. The problem is in recruiting, retaining and supporting our teachers, especially at the hardest-to-staff schools.
Every time we lose a teacher, it costs us. Literally. More than one-third of teachers leave the profession before they’ve taught for five years. The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future estimates that the high rate of teacher turnover nationwide costs more than $7 billion per year. This only exacerbates the greatest challenges facing our public schools: underfunding and inequity.
Erich Auerbach and the understanding of literature. Jun 16, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 38 • By JOSEPH EPSTEIN
T.S. Eliot thought that the first requisite for being a literary critic is to be very intelligent. The second, I should say, is to have a well-stocked mind, which means having knowledge of literatures and literary traditions other than that into which one was born; possessing several languages; and acquiring a more than nodding acquaintance with history, philosophy, and theology—to be, in brief, learned. To be both highly intelligent and learned is not all that common. Eliot claimed for himself—and this by implication, for he was a modest man—only the former.
'We have our blind spots and we have our dogmas and we've got our crazy folks.'7:17 AM, Mar 12, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama knows that his time is almost up. It's a point he's making to liberal Democratic donors to get them to donate generously in this year's mid-term election.
'It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband.'8:22 AM, Jan 20, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In an article published a couple days ago, Time magazine endorses "Polyandry," which Merriam-Webster defines as "the state or practice of having more than one husband or male mate at one time."
"It Makes Economic Sense for a Woman to Have More Than One Husband," reads the article's headline. The sub-headline reads, "By pooling male resources, polyandry improves household incomes and combats child poverty."
Sep 30, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 04 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
The media have been pretty down on Obama recently. Or rather, the media have been about as critical as they’re ever going to be. Case in point, The Scrapbook was a bit taken aback when we saw last week’s Time cover. Vladimir Putin’s visage is glowering against a stark background, and the cover line is brutal: “America’s weak and waffling. Russia’s rich and resurgent—and its leader doesn’t care what anybody thinks of him.”
8:24 AM, Sep 16, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
Time has put Vladimir Putin on the covers of various editions of its September 16, 2013 magazine, distributed across the world. It's appearing almost everywhere -- in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the South Pacific.
Everywhere, that is, except for one location: Time magazines in America.
Americans are being treated to a special cover story claiming "It's Time To Pay College Athletes."
7:36 AM, Jun 14, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
White House deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes explained the Obama administration's decision to step up action in Syria.
10:44 AM, Aug 24, 2012 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Plagiarism is not a crime in any legal code, but among people who make their living with words, there is no deeper offense. The plagiarist has not just stolen the work of another writer; he has used it to disguise his own inadequacy. It is a symptom of -laziness, to be sure; but above all, it’s a crime of arrogance.
12:38 PM, Aug 21, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
Newsweek's cover this week is decidedly not favorable to President Obama:
And, so today, President Obama is giving an exclusive interview to Newsweek's main rival, Time magazine.
11:49 AM, Jun 15, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
How convenient! How coincidental! Time magazine put its latest issue to bed on Wednesday evening—and 36 hours later the Obama administration announced that it would be using "prosecutorial discretion" not to deport young illegal immigrants who "do not present a risk to national security or public safety."
Adults may not know whether the Constitution matters, but thankfully some students do.12:00 PM, Jul 4, 2011 • By TONY WOODLIEF
Time magazine is nothing if not direct. Featuring a picture of the Constitution, the bottom half of which has been run through a shredder, today’s cover asks: “Does it Still Matter?”
Inside the magazine, Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel spends nearly 5,000 words explaining that it kind of does, except when it doesn’t, though who is to say when, exactly, because it doesn’t tell us anything specific about terrorists and health care and collateralized debt.
But it can be done. 12:22 PM, Jun 21, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
One of the tertiary benefits to Iraq's surge -- aside from the military victory -- was the birth of a group of military thinkers informally called the COINdistinas.