Panel The First: Following up on My post about teacher's unions serving as craptacular protectors of crap disguised as "teacher's rights" and "education," a New York Times op-ed by Susan Engel adds solutions to the unneeded and undeserved educational puzzle, this time at the college level, where teachers are (mis)trained.
Ms. Engel has a three-part solution:
1) Raise admission standards for education degrees and make it free, as well as adding a three-year contractual service period in public schools. Me like. The incentive for high-GPA students (less smart than they used to be, as the education system has been increasingly failing them) to turn away from medicine, law, engineering and business needs to be a combination of recognition and savings. But in exchange for that opportunity, they have to give back to students. To argue against this is to argue that better teachers happen by chance, not planning.
2) Get the student-teachers to train they way they learn best: in classrooms, with frequent supervision. None of this "four years of theory, one year of dealing with a dyspeptic loser who gave up years ago as a part-time supervisor." Exposure to teaching, like exposure to any other profession, breeds experience and confidence, as well as cementing knowledge. It also culls the losers before they can be career lumps of non-teaching flesh.
3) Give incentives to schools to hire these student-teachers in groups. Ms. Engel suggests in groups of at least seven, but I'd be willing to go as low as five. In any case, the purpose is to open doors to new, willing teachers and provide a support system to battle against the entrenched forces of crap protection. Teaching isn't easy, but when you also have to battle pea-brained retreads masquerading as colleagues, it can be brutal. (Just ask a good teacher; they'll give you horror stories.)
What Ms. Engel suggests is very viable and aims at the future rather than the present, which can reduce resistance. It also makes college attractive at a time when attendance is dropping. And furthermore, it sidesteps the issue of evaluation in favor of "When We get smarter, more motivated candidates, We get smarter, more motivated and more effective teachers."
This should start happening now. And it never should have been needed in the first place.
Panel The Second: On the subject of government employees, what happens when the government employee numbers rise substantially, their pensions get bigger and then they start retiring...and living longer?
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the government coffers are headed for deep doodoo. For a more technical explanation, click here. For a vivid in-your-face example, stay tuned to Puerto Rico Live, the network SyFy would be if were run entirely by zombies. Really corrupt rotting zombies.
Panel The Third: CAPECO, the Caribbean Petroleum Company of Puerto Rico, blew up last week. Busted windows. Big fire. Lots of smoke. Turns out--as expected--that the company had a long history of bad maintenance leading to serious environmental and safety concerns. By the muse and grace of Fortuna's left tit (not be confused with "Fortuño, the titmouse left in disgrace"), no one was killed. The company filed for bankruptcy in December, 2001; the local Treasury got $32 million. But it seems that CAPECO was the beneficiary of a $154 million debt amnesty (of $191 million), given to them under the (mis)administration of Pedro Stupid Rosselló. Then-Treasury Secretary, Xenia Vélez, refused to answer questions about that amnesty she was part of, stating that she is "now a private citizen" and that "her comments would add nothing."
As you might expect, Xenia is a lawyer. Ho hum.
Let Me set you straight, Xenia "Worrier Princess": You will have to answer questions about this matter. For one, you served as Treasury Secretary and the unexplained amnesty happened on your watch, with your approval. For two, you were doing so as a public servant of the People of Puerto Rico, not just as the rubber stamp of a megalomaniac with selective vision. And for third, your status now is irrelevant: what has become obviously relevant is your refusal to step up with candor, dignity and professionalism and do your duty as a citizen and legal representative. If the media had the gonads of a flea, they'd rightfully and righteously keep on your tail until you did the right thing. As it is, it will be up to developing circumstances to be the lever that pries your gullet open.
The Jenius Has Spoken.