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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 23, 2012/ 296 Adar, 5772

It Does Matter How You Vote

By Mona Charen




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | A recent weeknight found me among a group of about a dozen unhappy parents meeting with the principal of our kids' high school. The issue: An incompetent teacher who we had been promised would not be returning to the school had shown up unexpectedly, and an administrator had told the students that he might indeed be returning in September.

Parents expressed dismay and frustration. The principal was guarded. There was much he could not say for legal reasons, he explained. In the course of a long and often tense discussion, a number of the parents made the point that if an employee in the private sector had engaged in the behavior that this teacher had, he would be gone in a flash. But when it comes to teachers — those critical figures in our children's lives — it requires a minimum of three years to remove someone ... if you're lucky.

John Stossel, writing in Reason magazine, detailed the case of a New York teacher who sent sexually explicit emails to a 16-year-old student. It took six years and plenty of expensive litigation to fire him, though the school had possession of the emails, and the teacher admitted sending them.

As Stossel observes, faced with the bureaucratic maze they must navigate to fire a bad teacher, most principals don't even try. They attempt to sucker another school into taking the incompetent ("the dance of the lemons") or they put the bad teachers in "pretend work" jobs, where they continue, of course, to collect full salaries and benefits. Between 2005 and 2008, Newsweek reported, the public school systems of Chicago and Akron, Ohio, fired the same percentage of teachers: .01 percent. The Denver and Toledo systems didn't fire any.

Confronting such a Kafkaesque system (Bill Bennett dubbed it "the blob") most parents shrink away feeling deflated and helpless.

Such is union power.

No one mentioned it, but as we were gnashing our teeth about the difficulty of removing bad teachers from the public school system, the Virginia legislature was voting on a measure that would have brought decisive change to our system — the elimination of teacher tenure.

Virginia doesn't call its system of job security "tenure," but after just three years of teaching, a teacher gets a "continuing contract," which amounts to the same thing. By contrast, university professors typically don't get tenure until they've been on the job for seven years. And even then, only a minority gets it. Many college instructors are not tenured faculty.

Do you have life tenure in your job? Unless you are one of the above mentioned professors, a federal judge or a public school teacher, the answer is almost certainly no. So why do teachers have it? Whose interests does it serve other than the teachers'? It permits sloth and incompetence. Can you keep your job without reference to how well you perform it? Tenure insulates teachers from accountability. The unions really put one over on the public. Is it hopeless?

People who want to seem sophisticated affect a jaded view of politicians and political life. If you say that all politicians are crooks and that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, you will get energetic agreement. But here is a case in which electing a Republican governor and a Republican legislature really might have begun to release Virginia's schools from the iron grip of the teachers' unions.

Gov. Robert McDonnell introduced legislation that would have replaced the "continuing contracts" with three-year contracts. At the end of a teacher's contract period, a principal could choose not to renew the contract for any reason, giving principals in Virginia real power to shape their faculties for the first time.

The bill passed the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, but when it reached the Senate, three Republicans joined all 20 Democrats to kill the measure. "This bill does nothing but kick teachers in the teeth," explained Sen. Phillip Puckett, a Democrat. Delegate Richard Bell, a Republican, saw it differently. "If we always do what we've always done," he told the Washington Post, "then we'll always get what we've always gotten."

If the citizens of Virginia had elected just a handful more Republicans, their majority would have been large enough to survive the defections and implement tangible reform. I wonder how many of the parents who were at that meeting — seething about the problem teacher and the clotted system that makes it so hard to get rid of him — voted Democrat.

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