Friday, June 5, 2009

The $125,000 Question And A Lot More

I feel like Jon Stewart of The Daily Show after taking a week off. Among the news items he missed was General Motors filing bankruptcy giving taxpayers a 60% ownership. Stewart thought it was cool owning a car company promised to be a more lean, green, mean machine. So what if it still fails? Stewart asked. "It's insured." Pause. Imaginary phone call. "By AIG? Yikes."

I missed some good stuff on Sonia Sotomayer, the Supreme Court nominee. Republicans no longer complained they couldn't pronounce her name. Newt Gingrich walked back his comment she was a racist. Even Rush Limbaugh admitted he could support So-toe-ma-yore if she ruled pro-life on the abortion issue involving Roe vs. Wade.

Some things never change. I read today the New York City Parking Enforcement detail did a helluva job writing tickets on a parked vehicle for the past month. Unfortunately, the driver inside the vehicle was dead all that time, claims his daughter.

My "Bull Headed" Award goes to Mark Sanford of South Carolina, the Republican governor holdout from accepting federal stimulus money. The state Supreme Court ordered Sanford on Thursday to request the $700 million and the governor said he would comply. The nation's most vocal anti-bailout governor had refused to take the money designated for the state over the next two years, facing down protesters and Republican legislators who passed a budget requiring him to. The unanimous court ruling said the governor had no say in the matter. For his stand, Republicans outside the state are pushing him to enter the 2012 presidential race.

But, we return to New York City where an innovative experiment is taking place in that metropolitan stink tank of a public school system. A charter school will be paying teachers $125,000 per year plus bonuses. The school, called the Equity Project, is premised on the theory that excellent teachers — and not revolutionary technology, talented principals or small class size — are the critical ingredient for success. Experts hope it could offer a window into some of the most pressing and elusive questions in education: Is a collection of superb teachers enough to make a great school? Are six-figure salaries the way to get them? And just what makes a teacher great? The Equity Project will open with 120 fifth graders chosen this spring in a lottery that gave preference to children from the neighborhood and to low academic performers; most students are from low-income Hispanic families. It will grow to 480 children in Grades 5 to 8, with 28 teachers.

Stay tuned.

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