What we read while deleting our emails from David Petraeus…
- In case you still felt good about ESPN’s, ahem, journalism…
When the Aughts commenced, the demise of handwriting had already begun. Nonetheless, schoolchildren still handwrote most of their papers, typing was unheard of during college lectures (let alone exams), and emailing thank you notes was generally deemed rude. Now, nearly every student in all of my law school classes types their notes and emailing thank you notes is generally an acceptable practice. Think of the last time that you handwrote more than a paragraph—I actually cannot recall the last time I handwrote so much: It quite possibly was over a year ago, when the end of the Aughts seemed as if it were in the distant future.
For sloppy handwriters like John S and I,* this is a boon. Those “N”s** that mired the penmanship section of my elementary school report card have become completely irrelevant. Young children need not be patronizingly told that they ought to become doctors by adults that, frankly, have no sense of their medical knowledge. For those like Tim and presumably Pierre (whom I suspect is a masterful calligrapher) who pen beautiful characters, handwriting’s demise presents an unfortunate situation.
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What we read while looking for work as an offensive coordinator:
- And this might be why. Come on, emotional infidelity? Way to make marriage sound even worse.
The New York Times reports on the start of The Equity Project (TEP), a charter school in New York City that pays teachers $125,000 per year, with a potential for a $25,000 bonus. There is no tenure and only a limited retirement benefits program. There are no assistant principals, and the principal earns just $90,000. This experiment fascinates me for three reasons:
- There is no tenure! Even when I was in secondary school, the concept of tenure perplexed me, as I had my handful of subpar teachers each year. There may be an argument for tenure in universities, but the way tenure works in primary and secondary education is a monstrosity. There are generally a few observations (for which teachers prepare beforehand), some administrative recommendations, and a presentation before teachers get hired for life after a couple of years as an untenured teacher. At the point of tenure, the incentive to be a creative and effective teacher decreases drastically since little short of harassment of students will result in the teacher’s dismissal. Besides providing an incentive for teachers to consistently work harder, TEP’s No Tenure policy is attracting more creative (and probably better) teachers. This makes sense since not having tenure is riskier, and you need to be a better teacher to survive review on a year-to-year basis.
- Administration is devalued. The most important people in a school are the teachers. They are the ones working with children day in and day out and should be the most talented and intelligent members of the school. Most public schools currently have an incentive structure that encourages teachers to go into administrative jobs, of which there are far too many. What the heck does an assistant principal do anyway? My best math teacher in high school left the school to work as a Math Director in another district. This seems counterintuitive: Shouldn’t the best teachers remain as teachers? TEP encourages this.
- Teachers are paid for teaching. Teachers should be compensated most while they are working, not while they are retired. $125,000 sounds like a lot of money, but the amount most public schools pay teachers for not working is a lot as well. Cutting those retirement benefits not only saves costs but also contributes to an incentive structure that attracts talented teachers.
Thus far, several of my posts have pointed out bad equilibria but have been cautious in offering potential solutions. TEP excites me because it is a response—a very wise one, I think—to create that rare good equilibrium.