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PostWhat Archaeology is Telling Us About the Real Jesus: "National Geographic" (Richard Hancock, USA, 04/05/18 2:00 pm)
The December 2017 National Geographic has the above as its main article by Kristen Romey, who has visited the Holy Land many times.
The cover contains a beautiful picture of Jesus painted by Rembrandt. The article contains 62 different portraits of Jesus. It also contains a fold-out map entitled, "Where Jesus Walked." Having twice visited the Holy Land, I have seen a good many of these sites, including the Sea of Galilee, and Mt. Tabor (a possible site of the Transfiguration) and the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus spent the night before his arrest and Crucifixion. I have, of course, visited Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre which covers the area where Jesus was crucified and buried. The National Geographic has some interesting drawings showing both Golgotha, the site of Jesus's crucifixion, and his tomb the way it looked before the Holy Sepulchre was built.
Ms. Romey's article pretty well substantiates the life of Jesus as written in the New Testament. She closes her article by saying:
"At this moment I realize that to sincere believers, the scholars' quest for the historical, non-supernatural Jesus is of little consequence. That quest will be endless, full of sifting theories, unanswerable questions, irreconcilable facts. But for the true believers, their faith in the life, death, and resurrection of the son of God will be evidence enough."
All that I can say to that is "Amen."
JE comments: Click below. Bravo to the NG for making its content available without irksome paywalls!
Richard, your state (Oklahoma) has been in the national news this week. What is the perspective in Norman on the massive teachers' strike?
Oklahoma Teachers' Strike
(Richard Hancock, USA
04/06/18 10:58 AM)
John E asked me to report on the teacher strike in Oklahoma.
Teachers here have received a $6,000 wage increase but continue their walkout to obtain more funds in support of student texts and educational aids which are today mostly provided out of teachers' pockets. Oklahoma ranks 47th in the US in terms of teacher pay, but also ranks very low in cost of living. I am hopeful that the legislature will provide the additional funding that the teachers request.
Our state has many schools that serve less than 200 students, which is not economically sound. These schools need to be consolidated, which is not acceptable to these low-attendance schools. We also need to consolidate our 77 counties which were formed in horse-and-buggy days and constitute an unnecessary duplication of facilities in modern times. I suppose that I would oppose such consolidations if I were a resident of one of these counties with scant population. My home town of Corona, New Mexico had a population of 300 when I lived there (1926-48). Now it has a population of only 162, and a high school that graduates 3-5 students annually. When we visited Corona many years ago, my young son exclaimed, "Daddy's land is all wrecked up."
JE comments: The Oklahoma legislature is now debating tax increases to return funding to the schools. The underlying problem is ultimately a matter of government priorities, but it was caused in part by the collapse in oil prices.
The Media has labeled the West Virginia, and now Oklahoma, teacher actions the Red State Teachers' Rebellion. Expect educators in other states to follow their example.
Plight of Oklahoma Teachers: "Mother Jones"
(Paul Levine, Denmark
04/07/18 4:49 AM)
Apropos Richard Hancock's letter on the teacher strike in Oklahoma (6 April) is this new article from Mother Jones. Happy reading.
JE comments: At least for Oklahoma's teachers, alas, there is Mississippi. I Googled the highest-paid teachers by state. Alaska comes in first, followed by New York and the usual suspects in the Northeast, as well as California (all Blue States, except Alaska).
Teacher Salaries and Pensions
(Brian Blodgett, USA
04/07/18 2:19 PM)
My wife is a middle school teacher in Maryland and we thought about moving to a different state, not because of the money, but for ourselves and to get away from DC.
However, one of the things that many do not realize is that in some cases, a teaching certificate may not be recognized in another state, forcing the teacher to jump through the hoops of that state, even if they already have 10 years of experience. However, a bigger issue is retirement. My wife, when she retires, will have a pension from Maryland as well as Social Security. But, if she moves to another state, her pension does not move with her. For new teachers, this is likely not an issue since they can sometimes "buy" a year or two of pension from their new state, but more often they will end up teaching in that state long enough to earn a pension even if they do not "buy" into the new pension. Yet for my wife, who has been teaching for 11 years, she could only buy two years and thus she would lose nine years. This is likely the case for other states as well--after all, why would they give you a pension if you only worked part of your teaching career in the state? And moving is also not that easy, especially when the spouse has a job.
When looking at salaries in Oklahoma (http://sde.ok.gov/sde/sites/ok.gov.sde/files/documents/files/17-18%20State%20Minimum%20Salary%20Schedule_0.pdf ), I saw that the difference between having a BA, MA, and a doctorate was negligible--only about $3,000 or so from a BA to a doctorate and from a BA to a MA, only about $1,500. So, for the average teacher in OK, who is already making so little, what motivation is there in obtaining a higher degree?
I also found the fact that Oklahoma is granting so many emergency teaching certificates chilling but expected. This is needed yet it leaves students with teachers who are not fully prepared to take on this responsibility. I am not saying that it is bad--my wife was provisional as her degree was in Sociology and she was hired without a teaching certificate but she earned it within the year. Nevertheless, if you examine the data and the trends in Oklahoma, it is not good (https://www.ossba.org/advocacy/oklahoma-education-facts/ ), and looking at it you will see that the number of emergency certificates went from 32 in the 2011-2012 school year (SY) to 505 in the 2014-2015 SY, doubled to over 1,000 in the following year, and in the current year is at almost 2,000. The data on administrators is just as scary because of the shortage of them, coupled with the shortage of teachers, may leave a school in a dire situation, and the students even worse off than we see talked about in the news.
JE comments: Fortunately for the Blodgetts, Maryland is a top-ten state for teacher compensation. Still, why are teachers so generally unappreciated in this country? Is their importance for society's well-being any less than that of physicians?
(Enough of my pie-in-the-sky idealism, but here's a reality check: click on that salary schedule for Oklahoma. It's really sad--especially the paltry premium given for advanced degrees. Here's another reality check: the head football coach for Oklahoma University, Lincoln Riley, made $3.1 million last year, or about 100 teacher-equivalents.)
Teacher Salaries and Pensions; Lula Goes to Jail
(Istvan Simon, USA
04/08/18 2:14 PM)
I read with great interest Brian Blodgett's post of April 7th. I am involved with education, so anything connected with education is of great interest to me.
I am sorry about the non-portability of pensions, as Brian reports. Indeed, I experienced the same when I moved to the United States, and lost not 11 but 15 years of my Brazilian University pension. Still, I can't complain, for the taxpayers of the state of São Paulo paid for my Stanford education, as well as for my undergraduate education at the Escola Politécnica da Universidade de São Paulo.
Brian's post made me think of the Oklahoman cretin at the head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, a man as stupid as I can think of, a man who is incredibly corrupt besides being a moron, who is heading the EPA not to defend the environment, but to destroy it. He is so stupid that he thinks that Climate Change may be a good thing, so we need to do nothing about it. He does not understand that the oceans are currently rising 6 mm every single year, and that 6 mm times 30 is 180 mm, so huge coastal areas of the United States are going to be under sea water, devastating tens of trillions of dollars of valuable real estate properties near our beaches if we do nothing. He does not understand that the added energy in warmer oceans means ever more violent hurricanes that will cause tens of trillions of dollars of damage with their destructiveness.
All of this is absolutely obvious to any educated person like myself, but an unfathomable mystery to a moron like Scott Pruitt, or to President Trump, his equally moronic boss. Who is responsible for this state of affairs? We the people of the United States are responsible, or at least the 62 million Americans who voted for the rapist in the White House. Also to blame are the Senators who confirmed his cabinet, and the GOP congressmen that are protecting the insanity of his unbelievably incompetent government.
Finally, among all the bad news in this post, there is a marvelous ray of hope. So I would like to finish with some really good news. The unbelievably corrupt ex-president of Brazil, Lula, yesterday surrendered to Brazilian authorities, and started serving his 12-year sentence for graft and corruption. This is a fabulous day and marvelous news, for it will change Brazil profoundly for the better. The day has arrived when corrupt politicians actually go to jail in Brazil, and it is not only Lula, it is also for example the ex-governor of the state of São Paulo, Paulo Salim Maluf, and many corrupt co-conspirators of Lula, like the unbelievably evil and corrupt ex-terrorist José Dirceu, and Palocci, and many others who treated the public money as if it was for their personal benefit. Al are today sitting in jail. I say, hurray, this is something truly worth celebrating. Finally politicians are accountable in Brazil.
JE comments: Istvan, "moron" is not a WAISly term, even if former Secretary of State Tillerson used it to refer to his former boss. Has there been any clarification on Tillerson's alleged remark, now that he is a private citizen?
- Red State Teachers' Rebellion: Decades in the Making (Paul Pitlick, USA 04/09/18 4:06 AM)
A follow-up to our discussion about US schools. If the ruling party wants to eviscerate taxes, children end up getting caught in the outcome, leading to not-well-educated adults.
JE comments: Kenny Bridges, a public school administrator featured in the article, used to work in the Kansas system. Despite the low salaries in that state, Bridges felt fortunate that he could draw from the teacher pool in...Oklahoma. Now Bridges is superintendent of a district in his native Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma teacher walk-out is entering its second week. We'll be following the developments on WAIS. What has struck me so far is the public support for the teachers. Before now, the court of public opinion has been quick to dismiss public-school teachers--and especially their unions--as whiny, entitled, and even corrupt. In the present showdown, people like Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and Education Secretary Betsy Devos have been pilloried for their insensitive remarks. Fallin compared the Oklahoma teachers to teenagers "wanting a better car." Let them eat cake.
Teacher Compensation, and the Plight of Adjuncts
(Tamara Zuniga-Brown, USA
04/09/18 6:00 PM)
I applaud the Oklahoma and West Virginia K-12 teachers, and all who will follow, not only for fighting for their rights, but for mindfully taking "leadership" to task. The public's support must unequivocally grow, lest we find ourselves fully entrenched in Toynbee's last "cycle of civilizations": Challenge, Response, Suicide.
Everyone loves teachers and appreciates their work. Everyone is aware of how poorly teachers are compensated and not many will dispute that education is invaluable to contributing to building better communities and societies. Yet, simply put, folks simply aren't willing to "put their money where their mouth is." My humble opinion is that it just takes too long for a society that has been thoroughly conditioned to be attracted to rewarding professions that offer instant gratification and bring high visibility/fame, and/or are attached to big salaries and what cultural norms dictate to be "clout."
This podcast from Brookings explains the latest teacher strikes well--and predicts future states joining in:
Also, these latest teacher protests are a timely reminder of the dysfunction in the overall US education system. The crisis in higher education has not abated. It has consigned 1.3 million, or 75% of the highly educated instructional work force in academia, to contingent, non-essential part-time status. Otherwise known as "Adjuncts," these professors have been officially placed in the same category as the "working poor" along with front-line fast-food workers, child-care providers, and home-care workers working multiple jobs to earn a living wage--and requiring $468 million in public assistance per year.
The further irony of this situation is that even though average tuition and fees at private universities have soared 157%, and 237% at public universities over the past 20 years, universities are paradoxically cash strapped and outstanding student debt stands at $1.2 trillion. Plus, adjuncts have no retirement or benefits with which to even bargain! https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/paying-for-college/articles/2017-09-20/see-20-years-of-tuition-growth-at-national-universities
Food for thought: Can anyone imagine what the response of a professional sports coach, owner, or athlete (or their fans) would be if you were to tell them they will only be paid for the hour the ball is in play--not for any training, conditioning, strategizing, practices, etc. Oh, and that they have to use 10 year-old equipment, and that by the way, they get no benefits or retirement either. How about entertainers (movie stars/singers, etc.) only getting paid for their 1- 2 hour film or 3-hour concert? Or a successful CEO only getting paid for the hours in which they officially "close the deal"?
And to really stir the hornets' nest... As teaching is traditionally a woman's profession, could this be predicated on gender (in)equality pay? "Time is money" is relative to the value society places on whose time and money it is.
For those wishing to further explore the movement to support adjuncts in Higher Ed:
For those ready to watch a spoof "played out" about the predicament of teachers: https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtubekey+and+peel+on+teachers&view=detail&mid=3E1017EEBC7C6473BF013E1017EEBC7C6473BF01&FORM=VIRE
JE comments: Watch the last link first--Key (Detroit's own) and Peele are the best satirists in the business. You have to love the nerdy calculus teacher whose father was a "humble pro football player." As for the rest, Tamara Zúñiga-Brown succinctly describes an unsustainable situation (two of them, really): the second-class status of public-school teachers, and the even more precarious life of Adjuncts in Higher Ed. The latter can only survive if teaching is a moonlighting job, or (as is the case with many of our adjuncts at Adrian) they have a pension from a career in the public schools.
So good to hear from you, Tamara.
- Red State Teachers' Rebellion: Decades in the Making (Paul Pitlick, USA 04/09/18 4:06 AM)
- Teacher Salaries and Pensions; Lula Goes to Jail (Istvan Simon, USA 04/08/18 2:14 PM)
- Teacher Salaries and Pensions (Brian Blodgett, USA 04/07/18 2:19 PM)
- Plight of Oklahoma Teachers: "Mother Jones" (Paul Levine, Denmark 04/07/18 4:49 AM)