April 2009 Archives

the final word on why merit pay is bullshit


President Obama is on my television right now, reminding us all that he supports merit pay for public school teachers. He is very rarely a dumbass, but here he is a dumbass.

Merit pay is bullshit for a lot of reasons. Most of them have already been rehashed:

  • It penalizes teachers who are assigned students with bad parents or bad backgrounds

  • It establishes even more precedent for teaching to standardized tests rather than teaching critical thinking

  • It does nothing to address the fact that people who possess the skills that make for good teaching are avoiding the profession.

Yet I discovered another reason that merit pay is bullshit tonight: Student teaching.

Would anyone disagree that student teaching is an absolute necessity in the development of a strong teacher? Classroom skills in an age of unruly students raised by piece-of-shit parents are among the most valuable for a teacher, and are MUCH better learned under the tutelage of a professional teacher than “on the job.”

Yet what teacher would hand her/his classroom over to a student teacher if they knew their paycheck depended upon those students’ performance? Who would trust THEIR VERY INCOME to someone who HAS NO CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE? Teachers are already reluctant to take on student teachers, and establishing a merit pay system would eliminate student teaching opportunities entirely.

“Oh, they can do their student teaching of non-essential material,” you might respond. I laugh in your face. There is no such thing as non-essential material today. Everything depends on the standardized tests — and merit pay would simply increase this emphasis.


In fact, that may be the most enduring impact of the establishment of merit pay — a generation of teachers who never properly formulated their classroom skills, or a gross teacher shortage because underprepared teachers quit under the pressure or stress of a difficult first year.

Merit pay is bullshit. If you don’t understand why, you are a stupid person.

I like MSNBC. It is on my television probably 12 hours a day. However, they need a new Chyron operator. I see a spelling mistake almost every day on lower-thirds, and here are two particularly annoying ones from this week.


I think Balgo is funny, because it’s a typo. I want to burn down MSNBC’s headquarters because of “Sneak Peak,” because that WASN’T a typo. That’s someone who makes a lot of money and went to school JUST TO LEARN HOW TO DO THAT. And yet they spelled “peek” incorrectly.

A “sneak peak” would be, I presume, the top of your shoe. Or perhaps while riding a bike up a mountain, you suddenly find yourself at the top unexpectedly.

Regardless, these MSNBC spelling errors are nothing new, and really pale in comparison to a previous lower-third error.

i don't have it so bad, after all

I’ve been bitching a lot lately about the fact that I can’t watch many Rays games anymore — not because I’m up here in Gainesville, but because Cox doesn’t feel we need the games. So Gainesville Cox subscribers went from getting 130 games last year to 75 this year… and the bulk of the unaired games seem to be frontloaded in the season. MLB.tv says it’s our cable company’s fault, blacking out the games to subscribers, so there’s no legal way to watch the games up here.

But that’s nothing compared to what Paul Lukas discovered upon his visit to the New York Yankees Steakhouse at Yankee Stadium. It turns out that Mr. Steinbrenner has required all of the televisions at that steakhouse to be tuned to the YES Network, even on nights that the Yankees are broadcast on local TV.

You can’t watch the Yankees game at Yankees Stadium inside the Yankees Steakhouse. Awesome.

(Btw, one of Paul’s best posts ever. Read it.)

One million is a lot

So I made this little video and titled it Classic Hits by Microsoft Songsmith: “Wonderwall” by Oasis.

That was three months ago, to the day (when incorporating February’s short month).

And today it went past 1,000,000 views.



LA Weekly wrote about us this week:

YouTube user azz100c has become the most prolific Songsmith remixer, with a channel full of consistently entertaining clips.

Thanks, LA Weekly!

this is the end

Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball. (Screw that game last night, that’s a sham, just like those BS games they play in Japan every few years). And Opening Day is like New Year’s, Christmas, and Easter all rolled into one. Yet it’s bittersweet, just slightly, because it means the BEST five weeks of the year, Spring Training, are/is over.

I only made it to one Grapefruit League game this year, which is disappointing. The elements that make spring training great are numerous, but here’s a video that highlights just one aspect of how wonderful it all is. This is a video of Chris Hayes, Royals pitching prospect, during and after his first exposure to big-league baseball.

Here’s a blog post from Hayes about the moment. It’s well-written, and I’m going to miss that short period of the year during which the walls that separate the haves from the have-nots are lowered, ever so slightly.

i'm the rainmaker

At this very moment, on the front page of the St. Petersburg Times website, there are no fewer than TWO stories involving former students of mine.

Here’s the good story.

Here’s the sad one (though obviously happy in a way since my student, Nick Schuyler, is the one who survived).

herp derp i am a real torr

If you’ve been watching television lately, you’ve no doubt seen this terrifying spot:

I don’t really know where to start with this. For one, the actress is creepy and robotic, with eyes that burn with the power of a million demons.

Her voice is clearly overdubbed, but I cannot believe the voiceover is better than her actual reading of the lines. It sounds like computer-synthesized speech, or a very careful reading by a non-native English speaker. And don’t get me started about her insistence that the word “realtor” is actually two words. REAL TOR. It’s like the association of realtors is so angry at idiots who pronounce the word “realitor” that they are pressed to be pedantic about it.

There are a couple versions of the spot, the most recent citing some random study that “eight in ten economists say home prices will go up in the next five years.” Really? I didn’t know that all economists were experts on realty. This isn’t a “four in five dentists” question. I’d argue a small percentage of economists have even a fleeting experience with home sales economics.

Anyway, this ad just freaks me out, and the woman is so terrifying she gives me nightmares. I don’t really see the point of realtors anymore, so I understand the industry fighting to make themselves more prominent. But all this spot does is tell me that realtors are automatons hell-bent on that 7%.


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    This page is an archive of entries from April 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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