Intrepid Girl Reporter

Sunday, 8/17: IGR still loves Paul Tough

IGR is, in fact, a big fan of the aforementioned NYT education reporter, although the initial exposure came not from an article about education but rather an article on the Weakerthans that ought to be required reading for anyone who has ever lived somewhere that is less than ideal.

His articles on the American educational system and its successes and failures, however, are equally compelling.

Here’s one on Katrina and the opportunity to utilize New Orleans as a sort of test lab for education (it sounds a lot creepier when phrased that way, but quite frankly, there was nowhere for NOLA to go but up). He also did a fascinating earlier piece on the successes and failures of NCLB. What I like about him is a refreshing fairness; I find that most of the education articles I read are biased one way or the other, although, you know, if either side was totally right we would not have these problems. Not to point out the obvious or anything.

One question that does arise for me though is regarding a not-inconsequential reform that is barely mentioned in the articles, simply because it’s not all that widespread: teacher pay. This, to me, seems like a significant variable that has in no way received the attention it deserves. Teach for America has done an admirable job bringing a degree of prestige back to the teaching profession. But however: there’s still the inevitable whiff of the “do-gooder” about it, a faint hint of martyrdom. Teaching is difficult, but it is also really fun if you like that sort of thing, provides the practitioner with the opportunity to learn innumerable skills, and, I think, deserves considerably more rigorous study than what it is so often granted. As a result, the profession remains – well, not inaccessible, but it certainly garners less respect in many circles than it deserves, and it still lacks the prestige it ought to have. So it’s attracting a smaller pool of talent and burning out the talent it brings in. I wonder what studies exist re: pay and performance. Note to self.

I would also like to recommend an article on the other man who rules my heart. Hey guess what, Jon Stewart doesn’t like ideology either.


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