Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Reading

Hard Fall – Charlie Pierce on the future of Mitch McConnell.

Friendless and alone, the Minority Leader of the Senate wanders a cold, abandoned road. At the last minute, he helped broker a deal that saved the United States government from a deliberate act of fiscal arson. In the immediate aftermath, he was praised — even by liberals — for his sensibility and for putting country ahead of his own political prospects. Now, though, he has a well-financed challenger on his right in a primary, and a well-regarded challenger (a bit) to his left in the general election, and the flying monkeys are descending on him from as far away as the lower Arctic.

(Note: I do not believe that Princess Dumbass Of The Northwoods is going to do anything except holler into her Facebook macheen because anything else would require work, and we know how she feels about that as a concept.)

What’s a fella to do anyway, he thinks, as he hears a faint rustling in the underbrush and the call of distant predatory birds. What’s a fella to do?

The easy thing to do is to conclude that McConnell reckoned that the threat to him in the general election is greater than the one presented by the monkeyhouse, so he decided to become a big enough RINO squish to keep the economy alive. But, right now, he’s the most interesting galoot in legislative politics. He’s got to maintain his status as a big RINO squish for the rest of the year. He’s somehow got to deploy the whole arsenal of institutional scorn and good-ol-boyz disregard to marginalize the likes of Tailgunner Ted Cruz. He’s also got to stay true to the essential Republican truth that this whole brawl has been about tactics and not about the fundamental ideas that led the party over the cliff in the first place. He’s not going to see the light on stimulus spending or using the tax code to try and do something about income inequality. He’s going to mean the same thing when he says “entitlement reform” now that he did a year ago. He’s just not going to burn down the house in order to get what he wants.

Frankly, I don’t care what happens to him. McConnell is as guilty as anyone of using the Power Of Teh Krazee to increased the political power of his party. If it rounds upon him now, that’s a kind of rough justice. But, more than anyone else, he painted a bulls-eye on himself this week. He will have a most interesting future.

Tough Job — Liz Riggs at The Atlantic examines why teachers quit.

Richard Ingersoll taught high-school social studies and algebra in both public and private schools for nearly six years before leaving the profession and getting a Ph.D. in sociology. Now a professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s education school, he’s spent his career in higher ed searching for answers to one of teaching’s most significant problems: teacher turnover.

Teaching, Ingersoll says, “was originally built as this temporary line of work for women before they got their real job—which was raising families, or temporary for men until they moved out of the classroom and became administrators. That was sort of the historical set-up.”

Ingersoll extrapolated and then later confirmed that anywhere between 40 and 50 percent of teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years (that includes the nine and a half percent that leave before the end of their first year.) Certainly, all professions have turnover, and some shuffling out the door is good for bringing in young blood and fresh faces. But, turnover in teaching is about four percent higher than other professions.

Approximately 15.7 percent of teachers leave their posts every year, and 40 percent of teachers who pursue undergraduate degrees in teaching never even enter the classroom at all. With teacher effectiveness a top priority of the education reform movement, the question remains: Why are all these teachers leaving—or not even entering the classroom in the first place?

“One of the big reasons I quit was sort of intangible,” Ingersoll says. “But it’s very real: It’s just a lack of respect,” he says. “Teachers in schools do not call the shots. They have very little say. They’re told what to do; it’s a very disempowered line of work.”

Other teachers—especially the younger ones—are also leaving the classroom for seemingly nebulous reasons. I spoke with nearly a dozen public and private school teachers and former teachers around the country. (I used pseudonyms  for the teachers throughout this piece so that they could speak freely.) Many of them cited “personal reasons,” ranging from individual stress levels to work-life balance struggles.

“We are held up to a really high standard for everything,” says Emma, a 26-year-old former teacher at a public school in Kansas who now works for a music education non-profit. “It stems from this sense that teachers aren’t real people, and the only thing that came close to [making me stay] was the kids.”

Reading List — Now that he’s done with Green Eggs and Ham, Andy Borowitz tells us what Ted Cruz will read next.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Now that the government shutdown is over, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) plans to read the Affordable Care Act, he told reporters today.

“It’s definitely been on my must-read list for a while now,” Sen. Cruz said of the law often referred to as Obamacare. “Things have just been so hectic around here lately, I couldn’t get to it.”

The Texas Senator said that he started reading the law this morning and observed, “So far, it’s pretty dry.”

“It’s not a page-turner, that’s for sure,” he said. “But it’s caused so much controversy, it must have some pretty juicy stuff in it. I’ll keep reading it and see what I find.”

Sen. Cruz said that when he finishes reading the Affordable Care Act, he plans to read the United States Constitution.

“People kept bringing it up the last few weeks,” he said. “So I’m kind of curious to see what all the fuss is about.”

Doonesbury — Visiting team.

3 barks and woofs on “Sunday Reading

  1. Re: teachers. We had a superintendent here who, according to newspaper articles, was a little autocrat. He wouldn’t listen to the teachers, fought with the school board, used district money to embellish his office, played favorites with some people, and generally was a very poor choice for superintendent. After several years of this behavior, he was asked to find other employment. Our current superintendent is superb and teacher retention has greatly improved.

  2. He has been badmouthing and rabble rousing about the ACA and is just starting to read it? And next he will read the Constitution to see what all the fuss is about? This man definitely does not belong in the Senate.

    • Probably, Grillo, but Andy Borowitz is also a satirist, so take this with a grain of salt and a nod to The Onion.

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