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Bully Pulpit

The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

RE:48 Urban Trailblazers: Teachers set out to help students in tough schools

Well, well, well. The Winston-Salem Journal reprinting an article on public education from the Charlotte Observer. This ought to be interesting, a veritable orgy of liberal self-congratulation.

Nothing, she says, prepared her for how hard this work would be. Nothing braced her for how hard her kids' lives are.

We sure didn't have to wait long for that. Here's a news flash for you, teacher-lady: teaching ain't hard work and lots of people have hard lives. I expect you'd also be shocked to learn that most of the wounds are self-inflicted as well.

Teach for America, a 16-year-old national project that is often compared to a Peace Corps for public schools, strives to overcome the educational obstacles that hinder poor students.

I hope I'm not the only person who appreciates the surreal quality of a situation in which our government-run schools have become third-world countries in need of a "peace corps."

As teachers from the first group move on, they will form an alumni network to advocate for public education, whether they are working in the field or pursuing other paths.

Translation: They are the future union reps and lobbyists. They spent a year or two in some urban sewer to gain their "Up The Down Staircase" cred so they can use it to browbeat reluctant pols into spending more money on government schools. Lots more money if they're any good.

The trailblazers have earned praise from principals and top administrators, who struggle to fill teaching posts in high-poverty schools.

Translation: A warm body is a warm body.

The young teachers have weathered a bruising two years. Their urban schools have been the target of judicial outrage and harsh political rhetoric.

The poor widdle fings. I'll bet it was nearly impossible to do all that "hard work" while politicians and judges were saying nasty things. Everyone knows, rhetoric can leave a bruise. I'll bet more than a few of these tender darlings had to go on disability for the rest of their lives just because some Congress-critter questioned whether their program was actually effective.

Pohl is among the successes. More than 80 percent of her students passed their state English exams last year.

Wow! Eighty percent! That means only two out of ten of them were functionally illiterate at the end of their freshman year in high school. What a breakthrough!

Her husband, Travis, works for clothing company American Eagle and agreed to follow her to Charlotte.

That's a nice touch. She's an archaeology major who teaches English and he works in a teenie-bopper mall clothing store. We're not talking about a pair of over-achievers here.

She learned that even the simplest task, such as getting out work sheets, requires patient coaching.

And let's not forget the awesome challenge of wiping their noses and taking them to the bathroom as well.

She developed tricks for keeping her class engaged. On Friday, students had to walk to her desk to get their two-page homework handout stapled. The movement keeps them alert, Pohl said, and the kids can't claim the popular "I never got the homework" excuse.

I don't even have to comment on that one. It is lamentably pathetic all by itself.

In fact the whole article is an exercise in pathos, but not the kind of pathos that these "news" outlets were going for. The pathetic nature of it is illustrated by two of North Carolina's three main outlets for leftist agit-prop spending time trumpeting the unremarkable achievements of an unremarkable teacher in a way intended to inflame the bleeding hearts of the army of simpletons who revere government schools as if they constitute some latter-day shrine. A shrine to what, I wonder?


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