Friday, June 10, 2005

This is a great idea. Good for Williams. I know I prize my golden apple, and despair when I get even one negative evaluation. Every semester, occasionally in an essay, and most recently in discussion, I ask students to think about a role model or mentor they have had in education, and to share what made them special. Some choose a teacher, some a coach, a few choose a family member, or more rarely, a college faculty member. I also ask whether it is a reasonable expectation of schools, and if so, whether not being able to identify someone means the system failed.

Sometimes students have wonderful stories to tell, and I encourage students who feel this way to let the source of inspiration know about his or her impact. My purpose is not so much to get students to give thanks (although that is a worthy outcome), but to spark students to model this behavior when they become teachers. I'm not saying that teachers deserve to be undercompensated, but teaching isn't about making money, or going through the motions, putting in time and doing the countdown to retirement, or at least it shouldn't be. Teaching is as important a profession as there can be, and when it is your vocation, you are truly blessed.

Not really the same subject, but in the same realm. As a member of my union, UUP (an organization for which I have nothing but respect), I receive numerous publications from educational organizations. One is New York Teacher, which is produced by NYSUT (an organization I don't hold in the same high regard as UUP). In the recent issue, there was a letter to the editor entitled "Wal-Mart not a good investment for retirees." The writer refers to this article in American Teacher, which details how bad Wal-Mart is for communities, then notes that in the Spring 2005 issue of Your Source (from the NYS Teacher's Retirement System), investments in Wal-Mart stock total $688,011,504. Bravo to the letter writer for pointing this out! (Full disclosure: I am not fond of big box stores.) Following the letter is a comment from a member of the TRS board, which says, in part: "Divesting from investments that benefit the members for their future retirement earnings, due to social reasons, would be a breach of fiduciary responsibility on the part of the TRS and the trustees."

Turn the page, after the letter and the TRS board response, and there is this: "Avoid Wal-Mart in Back to School Shopping." Truly amazing! Now, I wonder how advocating for a boycott can "benefit the members for their future retirement earnings?"

All I can say is that few things annoy me more than such stunning hypocrisy.

On a completely different subject, in the crushing heat, we cleaned up the remnants of the foundation job, moved the shed, put the dogs' fence back up, planted the window boxes, hanging baskets, containers, and vegetable garden, and put up the garden fence. I never drank so much water in my life. But it is done, and it was worth it. The pool awaits this weekend!

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