Firing the aging teacher (5×8 – 2/17/12)

Should tenure be eliminated, is it warm in here, the gift of Anthony Shadid, Canada’s mandatory religion course, three smart things about boogers.


The school seniority debate has certainly been visible in political circles, especially considering the Minnesota House passed a bill yesterday eliminating teacher tenure, but less so among teachers, at least in the public eye. Today, we’d like to hear, anonymously if need be, from people who teach. Few of us are actually in school anymore so we don’t really know how this issue of seniority plays out. All we have, really, our own experiences when we were in school.

In my case, Rita and Mary Mullahy and Lillian Taylor — three typical graying English teachers — were the treasures you’d want to keep around. Mr. Provenzani, the industrial arts teacher, wasn’t. We’ve all got our Miss Taylors and Mr. Provenznis, but what’s the real story?

And if school administrations start whacking teachers, how will we know they’re getting the right ones? Schools and the boards that run them are notoriously political and secretive. We learned that recently in South Washington County when a board fired a school superintendent everyone — at least publicly — claims was the perfect guy for the job, then cited privacy rules for not explaining their action. It’s also hardly a secret in Minnesota that teacher unions and the DFL are tightly connected, a relationship that thrusts politics into the picture by its very existence.

Come forward, teachers. Tell me about the people with whom you work. Do the older teachers bring something to the table the younger ones don’t? What is it? What’s lost when teachers are fired from the bottom? Is the debate leading to tension in schools between the young and old?


The climate change debate — the political debate — has been simmering again this week with the leaks of internal memos from a group detailing its budget and fundraising. The Associated Press last evening confirmed that the documents are accurate, despite denials from The Heartland Institute, which contends a document is fake which details a K-12 curriculum that is designed to question the science of climate change. The man who created the curriculum, who is not a climate scientist, acknowledged to the AP that the description of his intentions are accurate.

“My goal is to help them teach one of the greatest scientific debates in history,” David Wojick said. “This means teaching both sides of the science, more science, not less.”

Five government and university climate scientists contacted said they were most disturbed by Wojick’s project, fearing the teaching would be more propaganda rooted in politics than peer-reviewed science.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports scientist have reached tropical glaciers in the mountains of the Congo and were shocked by what they found. The glaciers, scientists said, will likely be gone by 2025. See the photos here.

Closer to home, the Fargo Forum has images of the region’s unwinter. And a guest writer on Trail Baboon says a little snow last week reminded Minnesotans of what they might not realize they’re missing.

MPR’S Paul Huttner reports on his Updraft blog today that the planet has just recorded its 323rd consecutive month above the 20th century average. He will be hosting MPR’s Midday this morning at 11:06.


Anthony Shadid, the New York Times reporter who’s been covering the Arab revolution, and is perhaps the best-known foreign reporter this country has, died yesterday when he suffered an asthma attack in Syria. He dodged bullets for a living, and it was his own body and some horses that finally got him.

The assignment in Syria, which Mr. Shadid arranged through a network of smugglers, was fraught with dangers, not the least of which was discovery by the pro-government authorities in Syria. The journey into the country required both Mr. Shadid and Mr. Hicks to travel at night to a mountainous border area in Turkey adjoining Syria’s Idlib Province, where the demarcation line is a barbed-wire fence. Mr. Hicks said they squeezed through the fence’s lower portion by pulling the wires apart, and guides on horseback met them on the other side. It was on that first night, Mr. Hicks said, that Mr. Shadid suffered an initial bout of asthma, apparently set off by an allergy to the horses, but he recovered after resting.

On the way out a week later, however, Mr. Shadid suffered a more severe attack — again apparently set off by proximity to the horses of the guides, Mr. Hicks said, as they were walking toward the border. Short of breath, Mr. Shadid leaned against a rock with both hands.

“I stood next to him and asked if he was O.K., and then he collapsed,” Mr. Hicks said. “He was not conscious and his breathing was very faint and very shallow.” After a few minutes, he said, “I could see he was no longer breathing.”

In its tribute today, the Times has some of his best video work from the Middle East.

Last April, Shadid was on MPR’s Midmorning, telling the story of his abduction as a hostage in Libya for seven days.

Shadid wasn’t all about the Middle East. Last year he wrote about his love of the Green Bay Packers.

I’ve worked as a foreign correspondent for 15 years, and I feel like the Packers were there on every assignment, from Cairo to Islamabad. On my way back from Egypt, after landing at JFK in New York, I listened in disbelief to the radio in the taxi as Terrell Owens snagged the game-winning pass with three seconds left. Three. In a brutal winter in Kabul, I logged on to the slowest Internet connection in the history of the Afghan capital to see that we had lost to the St. Louis Rams, 45-17. Next to a wood-burning stove, still in my sleeping bag, I asked myself whether Favre really could have thrown six picks. Six.

Budgetary constraints aside, I listened to every game in Baghdad. When I won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004, my editor at the Post, Phil Bennett, gave me front-row tickets to a game with the Washington Redskins. Forget the Pulitzer! I’m going to the game! I could have written another book if I had somehow managed not to spend countless hours reading about the Packers online. My wife, Nada, born abroad and having never heard the word touchdown, much less Packers, can now recite the starting lineup. (Well, part of it.)


In Quebec today, Canada’s Supreme Court will rule on a challenge to the country’s 2008 rule that requires elementary and high school students to take classes covering all major faiths found in Quebec culture. Is he teaching the history and existence of religion the same as teaching religion?

Comments on a CBC story frame the issue:

Atheism is also not mentioned as a valid religious belief system. “Ethics and Religious Culture” is a not so subtle way of saying only those who believe in a few chosen versions of god can be considered ethical, when actually the opposite is the case. Unless one considers burning women at the stake because they’re believed to be witches, throwing acid in the faces of young school girls and flying planes into buildings is somehow ethical.

This course is nothing more than state funded indoctrination to a moral construct that states quite clearly that religious study and ethics go hand in hand. Ethics has a place in education, religion most certainly does not.


This course teaches children that people have different religious views, and that you can get along with them.

I couldn’t care less if people are religious at home, I only take issue when people attempt to use religion as their excuse for passing different laws and trying to be treated preferrentially under the secular law we have, and force it down people’s throats.

To claim their children will be harmed by being taught to get along with people is just sad, and quite pathetic.

Related: David Brooks takes “Linsanity” where it blessedly wasn’t: into the realm of religion.

Lin says in that interview that he has learned not to obsess about stats and championships. He continues, “I’m not working hard and practicing day in and day out so that I can please other people. My audience is God. … The right way to play is not for others and not for myself, but for God. I still don’t fully understand what that means; I struggle with these things every game, every day. I’m still learning to be selfless and submit myself to God and give up my game to Him.”

The odds are that Lin will never figure it out because the two moral universes are not reconcilable. Our best teacher on these matters is Joseph Soloveitchik, the great Jewish theologian. In his essays “The Lonely Man of Faith” and “Majesty and Humility” he argues that people have two natures. First, there is “Adam the First,” the part of us that creates, discovers, competes and is involved in building the world. Then, there is “Adam the Second,” the spiritual individual who is awed and humbled by the universe as a spectator and a worshipper.


MPR storyteller Dan Olson provides a marvelous snapshot of the life of a bingo caller and player in Rochester. “People get mad at you. They call you names and want to throw daubers at you if you don’t call their numbers,” and 82-year-old former caller reveals.

Bonus I: Last Saturday night, a member of the Timberwolves “Hoop Troop” acrobatic basketball squad wore a headcam. Don’t try this at home, kids.

Bonus II: Three smart things about boogers (Wired)


A civic group called Walk Denver is working to improve that city’s friendliness toward pedestrians. It wants Denver to qualify as a “Walk Friendly Community,” a status that Minneapolis already has. Today’s Question: What’s it like to walk where you live?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: How to listen for racism on the campaign trail.

Second hour: Friday roundtable. Guests: Guest: Patricia Lopez, political editor for the Star Tribune; : Peter Hutchinson, former Minneapolis schools superintendent and Independence Party candidate for governor; Ed Bok Lee, author and poet.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Sven Sundgaard of KARE11

Second hour: America Abroad documentary on future of Korea. Ray Suarez hosts.

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: How desert military bases could

become huge solar energy suppliers.

Second hour: The story of concrete Plus, a look at plans to build two nuclear reactors in the United States.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – It’s been more than four decades since Leonard Cohen released his first record. His work has influenced generations of musicians and that trend continues with his new album. Singer-songwriters weigh in on Cohen’s latest work and how he has shaped their music.

  • Bob Moffitt

    Re: teacher seniority, I think you are asking the wrong question.

    Call me a cynic, but it looks to me like the proposed legislation isn’t a question on the pros/cons of tenure. I think it is more of a veiled attack on Education Minnesota, the teachers union that has long supported tenure — and DFL candidates.

  • Conner

    I had your experience in school Bob, some great teachers that I wish every kid could learn from and a few that should never have gotten into teaching. I even watched some good ones morph into bad ones over the 4 years I was in school.

    And as to Canada teaching religious courses.I randomly decided to take a class on Hinduism during my sophomore year of college. It was and always will remain one of my favorite classes and one of my most memorable. Part of it was the teacher, but the other part is the look into how people with that religious background see the world. I don’t see how that’s a bad thing. (But I now that’s not what the court is deciding)

  • Christie Burke

    @Bob Moffitt: Possibly true, IMO.

    I’ve been in education for 14 years, and I will tell you: in my first year teaching, I was idealistic and enthusiastic and slightly clueless. I didn’t know that at the time, but there are *many* memories from the beginning of my career that make me wince a little.

    The energy that new teachers bring to the classroom is important – not least because young teachers really remember what it was like to be on the other side of the desk. I am awed every day by the ideas and hard work of some of my younger colleagues. At the same time, I’m lucky enough to work with a number of equally inspiring 40-year veterans of teaching. We need that wisdom too.

    “Last in, first out” doesn’t take into account the gifts and strengths of each teacher for the students with whom s/he works. It doesn’t allow the opportunity to harness the energy of a fantastic first-year teacher and help that teacher grow into a seasoned educator, nor does it encourage any kind of meaningful mentoring by older teachers. I don’t think it’s the *worst* thing in the world, but I’ve thought for a long time that using it as the only or primary factor in teacher placement & retention is a Very Bad Idea. (FWIW, I work in an independent school — so no union.)

  • cmh

    There are good teachers, right out of the gate, and there are bad teachers with tenure, and vice versa. The problem is that we don’t have a system in place to effectively evaluate teachers, provide tools to help those who are struggling improve, and provide a framework for which those who cannot, even after attempts to mentor and develop them, are shown the door.

    Teachers have become the punching bag focal point for all the woes of the education system, without any regard for what they actually do, the struggles that districts are facing, the challenges of parental involvement (helicopter, or the opposite). We’ve done very little to help them, beyond making them a political hot potato.

    My mom retired a few years ago, after 40 years of teaching. She was recognized at the district level and the state level for her accomplishments over that time period. She loved her job, and put in more hours than I do, for substantially less pay. But she was not sorry to go, at the end. The increasing political pressure on teachers, the irrational and unrealistic demands placed on them by parents who only cared when report cards came out, the lack of a seasoned administrative team to provide leadership for the teaching staff, all of those things wore her down.

    Tenure is but a subissue of a larger systemic failure, one that we all need to own.

  • anomy

    Re tenure:

    I believe schools are like many other organizations/businesses where people do things or keep people around just because that’s how it’s always been. I have seen many places where people stay around year after year just because of their seniority. I had a 4th grade teacher who was just plain mean and hated me who I had to deal with, but nothing was ever done and he was around year after year.

    The worst is in college. I won’t get into all the details, but I have seen amazing professors come along and leave after a couple years because certain people got tenure and are running their departments into the ground.

  • MR

    Nicholas Kristof of the NY Times wrote yesterday about a teacher evaluation system in New Haven that is being embraced by both the teacher’s union and school administrators. The key in this case seems to be about transparency.

    I also have a memory of a story that I think I heard on the best NPR show that nobody hears, The Story, that was about a school district that was deemed “failing,” fired all of its teachers, and ended up hiring almost all of them back simply because they couldn’t find anyone else. Sadly I can’t find the piece, but it was an interesting story.

  • David

    I am not a teacher, but have been married to a teacher for many years. It seems there are two probllems with teacher tenure.

    1) Long time teachers that no longer care and just phone in it are nearly impossible to replace. From the stories I hear this is all too common.

    2) School closings, districts shrinking, teacher transfers, and reorgs have caused a problem where newer teachers — those without tenure — are forced out of positions as tenured teachers from other schools have the option to take the job of the untenured teacher. This often causes schoold to lose teachers they really want to keep, but have no choice.

    Most of the teachers I know want to get rid of tenure, but I hear more gripes about the second problem than the first. I’ve also heard that tenure is district specific and this causes issues, but I don’t know all of the details.

  • Alison

    Re: Teacher Tenure – I posted this response when this topic was Today’s Question a little while back. It pretty much sums up my thoughts, and includes teachers young and old.

    Evaluations should absolutely be used. I’m not sure why teachers should be exempt from the rules most of us play under. I understand that all teachers should always be at the top of their game and working together for the good of their students. But the reality is that teachers are human too. Some are good at what they do, some aren’t. Some put in 110%, others 75%. The effort and success of each changes over time. I’ve been a teacher. I’ve seen the spectrum of teachers, and not surprisingly, ability and effectiveness don’t strictly correspond to years in the district.

    I don’t see how this differs from my current job not in education. We are all working together for the good of the company. We really do work together, despite being judged against each other at times of review, promotion, and layoffs. When it comes time for evaluations, some people really are more valuable than others. Those people should be rewarded, and if job cuts are necessary, the best should be retained. The same is true for teaching.

    Here’s the problem though. I have known very few school administrators who have a handle on what makes a teacher effective AND the knowledge of what each of their teachers are doing and how well they are doing it. If this is going to work, we need to tackle the problem of administrators who are detached from their classrooms and the daily work of their teachers. I suspect this is responsible for much of the apprenhension to change that you hear from teachers.

  • Alison

    \\the best NPR show that nobody hears, The Story

    Agreed. That show is excellent! However it’s distributed by the outstanding Minnesota based public radio network American Public Media, not NPR.

  • Sam

    I can see the validity of the argument for eliminating tenure privilege, if we’re only evaluating whether or not it’s right for seniority to be the sole criteria in who gets laid off. But as Bob writes, school boards and district managers tend to be intensely political and secretive, and I’m not at all comfortable putting judgment calls on teacher employment in the hands of a bunch of frequently aggrieved activists with partisan axes to grind. I’d also worry that, absent tenure rules, superintendents and principals facing tough budget decisions would automatically choose to lay off whichever teachers are making the most money, which would surely be those with the most seniority.

    I fear that this may be one of those problems that can’t be legislated away. You can put any number of rules in place designed to protect one group or another, but in the real world, all it takes is a determined group of jerks (on whichever side) to screw things up.

  • GregS

    //Meanwhile, the BBC reports scientist have reached tropical glaciers in the mountains of the Congo and were shocked by what they found. The glaciers, scientists said, will likely be gone by 2025. See the photos here. – NEWSCUTS

    Groan, here we go again.

    Proof positive that the multi-million dollar climate misinformation machine is in full spin.

    Scientists are always shocked. It is always “It’s worse than we thought!!”

    And why not? Shocked = $$$$.

    Of course what remains unsaid (because it is simply not true) is that these glaciers are “melting” because of “global warming”.

    Has any reporter bother to check the local climate data to see if it is actually “warming”? Of course not. Why check a fact that might threaten the piety of a story?

    To do so would be journalism, not advocacy, and who does journalism any more?

    We went through the same wild claims with Mt Kilimanjaro only to learn later that local temperatures had not changed in decades. The glacier retreat was caused by sublimation (a process we all know as freezer burn).

    We also went through the same scare-mongering from the “trusted” IPCC on the Himalayan glaciers. The IPCC swore the Himalayan glaciers would all be gone by 2035. Now we learn from the GRACE satellite data that no melting has occurred for over a decade in the Himalayas and the IPCC was lying – and knew it was lying.

    Thank God for The Heartland Institute. We desperately need their programs in our K-12 science curriculum to introduce at least some critical thinking.

  • Mark Gisleson

    I would be in favor of “whacking” tenured teachers IF the legislature would simply amend its bill to eliminate all seniority in the legislature. Instead they should go with “merit” seniority.

    A legislator’s committee rank should be determined by how many votes they got in the last election. All districts being the same size, this would be an easy way to figure out which legislators have been rated most highly by their constituents.

    That would be more fair, wouldn’t it?

    P.S. GregS? The glacier report was in error and retracted, but it is now in the Climate Change Denier Hall of Fame as one of about 3 or 4 such relics. Again, anyone who wants to understand what’s going on here need only google “climategate hoax” to learn more about how Heartland and their other Koch-funded allies war against good science.

  • GregS

    //Again, anyone who wants to understand what’s going on here need only google “climategate hoax” to learn more about how Heartland and their other Koch-funded allies war against good science.

    Please try to keep up on the news, Mark. Kock funded Heartland to work on Healthcare, not Climate Change.

    Beyond that, every scandal has it defining quote. This one comes from Andrew Bolt:

    “The problem with the great international conspiracy of climate sceptics is that it’s so small and innocent that a disappointed warmist who steals documents from the Heartland Institute finds they must fake the main one to get media attention.”

  • Susan

    Relating to teacher tenure.

    My husband is a teacher and he’s worked with new teachers who were great and some that weren’t. He’s also worked with experienced teachers who are great and others who’ve lost the love for their profession, but don’t know how to make a career change.

    However, my main point is who will evaluate the teachers? The principal at my son’s elementary school supervises 25 classroom teachers, 5 or so specialty teachers, 6 or so special ed teachers, a number of educational assistants, other professional staff, janitorial, food service, and office staff. All staff in the elementary school totals about 90 people. When does she have the time between dealing with parents and students to complete comprehensive and quality evaluations? As a human resources professional, I don’t think it’s possible. If we want to eliminate tenure and base staffing decisions on performance, then we need to rethink how we staff our schools completely–including the number of principals and who supervisors the teachers, assistants, and other staff.

  • Jim Shapiro

    There is no more important role in our society – perhaps now more than ever – than that of instilling a love of learning in our children.

    Facts and figures and formulas can be found on the computer, but the desire to know can only be fostered by a human being.

    In such an important task, the gift of advanced chronology should be respected but not prioritized over the gifts of enthusiasm, knowledge, and the constant yearning to learn and transmit new information.

    As has already been mentioned, the rub of course lies in the potential political manipulation of hiring and firing policies, and the development of adequate tools for the measurement of competencies.

  • Jamie

    Bob wrote: “It’s also hardly a secret in Minnesota that teacher unions and the DFL are tightly connected, a relationship that thrusts politics into the picture by its very existence.”

    Labor unions usually support Democratic candidates for public office. They do so because Democrats usually agree with what unions “stand for,” and Republicans DON’T agree with what unions stand for. Democrats usually support unions. They do so because they believe that labor unions are a good thing. They don’t support one another just because the politicians rely on campaign contributions from unions, or just because unions rely on actions politicians take that support them. They AGREE with one another on pertinent issues.

    Many (mostly Republican) people often say that unions and Democrats are “in bed” together or something like that – like it’s the worst kind of nefarious relationship. That’s crap. They’re no different than any two groups of people who agree about how to make the world a better place, and they help each other in trying to do so. Are there a few corrupt individuals or relationships? Maybe (though I haven’t heard of any recently). But that’s no different than how there are some corrupt relationships among some Republicans and their supporters.

  • Grace Rousseau

    I was wondering on my way in this morning about the Twins upcoming season….

    Should Mauer have a job if there is an up and coming rookie that might be able to catch every game this summer… after all, he did not have a stellar season last year – all of his numbers went down. Wouldn’t the team been better off if Wilson Ramos was still a Twin? What about this new guy Willingham, with his lifetime 0.836 OBP? Will he help “power” the Twins to a division title? Creating a winning formula comes down to some really subjective criteria. Ask Bill Smith about bringing in Nishioka from Japan – on paper that sounded like a great acquisition for the Twins.

    The point that I am trying to make is that evaluating teachers is like picking your favorite Twins team. Was Torii Hunter a better technical center fielder than Kirby Puckett? Which would you want if you got to choose only one? What if either had played for Steinbrenner? How you evaluate talent is not something that can be done from an office without ever seeing them work or even after 2 or 3 formal evaluations. Experience counts for something – ask people about Jim Thome and then compare his stats (batting 0.243 while picking up 40 RBI’s) before he left the Twins last season. Team chemistry counts… at least for those of us that smile whenever we see the 1987 World Series flag. Facilities count as well as a whole host of factors, like the on-field leadership, conditioning, using the fundamentals and being about to read the opposing pitcher.

    For another example, big pappy… what would it have been like to have had him around Target field in our pinstripes? Wait – he was hitting in the low 270’s and was hindered by some nagging injuries…. his years of playing, toast really. We have become a society of the quick fix – except in teaching no one is going to ever offer me a big Red Sox contract. However, like David Ortiz, year in year out I get booed by the bleacher bums at Yankee stadium while I am just working on one victory at a time.

    How is that for a metaphor?

  • Jamie

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe that “tenured” means you don’t have performance reviews and evaluations. A tenured teacher CAN be fired by following procedures that were established to try to avoid problems caused by the changing politics of school boards and inept/corrupt/vindictive/just-plain-bad administrators (among other problems I’m sure). It may be an imperfect system, but thoughtful changes could be made, and it’s WAY better than if there were no system/union contract in place to protect teachers as employees. I agree with the other poster who said the real problem is with administrators who don’t or won’t do the job of either correcting bad performance or weeding out the truly bad teachers.

  • T

    “With our eyes wide open we’ll walk the plank…”


    Denial into the abyss of stubborness. You will

    never be convinced….

  • CaliGuy

    Here’s the part being missed in the debate on teacher tunure: Why was tenure instituted in the first place?

    Teacher tenure exists to fight cronyism. Plain and simple. If teacher’s lose tenure rights, a new administrator in a building/district would simply be able to slash/burn the teachers they want in order to hire their buddies from their old place of employment.

    Something else being missed: Why is the focus so narrowly on the few under-performing teachers who attain tenure and not the (clearly) incapable administrators who allowed that to happen? What other profession has a three-year probationary period (like teachers in MN)? If a principal or superintendent can’t get their act together in three years on a candidate, why aren’t *they* the ones being constantly hammered by the GOP?

    FWIW: I’ve taught for 11 years, and in two different states. I also have a MN school administrator license. And I don’t vote GOP.

  • Sue

    Teaching is one of the hardest positions in the universe. Just last night my husband who has taught for over 23 years said he would not encourage our children to get into the profession.

    Teaching isn’t about teaching stuff to kids – it is about disciplining children and trying to not make parents mad in the process. Many parents have unrealistic expectations of their child’s abilities. Some parents are down-right crazy. Some parents are dealing with mental illness, additions and poverty. What is broken in our society isn’t necessarily only our education system it is also our family system. They are supposed to work together. They don’t. Then add to the mix our political system dysfunction, emphasis on tests and budget cuts.

    How a teacher is evaluated is so arbitrary. How can a principal possibly evaluate a teacher effectively? One parent may hate a teacher and another parent loves that same teacher. Test scores? Does that equate with success? Then what if the principal is out to get a certain teacher because their personalities don’t mesh? That happens more than you think. Which is why unions even exist – there is a demand for it.

    Legislators try to “fix” things and they have no clue. Bottom line, people who think teachers are paid too much or don’t deserve our respect you try to manage the behaviors of 30 kids for 8 hours and day and you tell me how easy it is.

  • Joanna

    What Grace Rousseau said!

    There may be some problem teachers, but my daughter was fortunate enough not to encounter them in the Minneapolis public schools, and the majority of teacher with whom I’ve interacted have been working very hard in very difficult conditions. From K-12, my kid has had dedicated, caring, professional, enthusiastic teachers, veterans and newbies alike, who have given her an outstanding education. There was only one teacher who was seriously sub-par while she was in high school, and he was replaced mid-semester.

  • Vivian

    I agree with with Jim Shapiro.

    and I also agree with this statement:

    “Teacher tenure exists to fight cronyism. Plain and simple. If teacher’s lose tenure rights, a new administrator in a building/district would simply be able to slash/burn the teachers they want in order to hire their buddies from their old place of employment.”

    Which brings a rise to the notion of appropriate licensure and in this glorious day of advanced technology, you too, can be your own Star Reporter with this website:

  • Liz

    If you are checking on the validity of licensure you may as well do a background check on the suspect or teacher in this case.

    Of course you need valid information and exact, corrects spellings of names and birthdates to get a authentic reading on their criminal history, I mean background cheack. This is provided on I-9’s that are turned in to the Human resources office of the school or company that provided the service for them…provided that they do not lose the teachers confidential information prior to doing the checks. You also need their consent to do these checks as you just can’t be willy nilly investigating people without their permission.

  • DHM

    Wojick did not acknowledge the accuracy of the description of his intentions in the fake Heartland memo, and he takes issue with AP reporter Seth Borenstein’s misrepresentations.

    Wojik said the opposite, in fact. The memo describes his intentions as ‘discouraging the teaching of science.’ Wojik wants to encourage teachers to teach *science* not propaganda.

    Peter Gleick, suspected by many in the skeptical community of writing the fake document, has confessed to fraudulently impersonating a Heartland director to obtain the legitimate memos under false pretenses. He claims the fake memo was sent to him by snail mail separately and did not come directly to him from Heartland.

    Given his shady and deeply unethical behavior, there’s no reason to take his word for the provenance of the phony document, either. Too bad the AP didn’t do any actual fact checking.

  • GregS

    It appears as if Peter Glieck has been removed as Chairman of the Task force on Scientific Ethics at The American Geophysical Union.

    Small wonder.

    The best take I have read on this comes from Dr. Judith Curry, Professor and Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

    See Climate Etc: Gleick’s ‘integrity’

    From Dr. Curry’s article:

    The dangers to scientists in taking up arms in the climate war are elucidated by Matt Nisbet:

    Urgent calls to escalate the war against climate skeptics may lead scientists and their organizations into a dangerous trap, fueling further political disagreement while risking public trust in science. A major transformation is needed in how scientists and their organizations engage the public and policymakers. The new direction is not to become more political and confrontational on the national stage, but to seek opportunities for greater public interaction, dialogue, and partnerships in communities across the country.

    Scientists are also susceptible to the biases of their own political ideology, which surveys show leans heavily liberal. Ideology shapes how scientists evaluate policy options as well as their interpretations of who or what is to blame for policy failures. Given a liberal outlook and strong environmental values, it must be difficult for scientists to understand why so many Americans have reservations about complex policies that impose costs on consumers without offering clearly defined benefits. Compounding matters, scientists, like the rest of us, tend to gravitate toward like-minded sources in the media. Given their background, they focus on screeds from liberal commentators which reinforce a false sense of a “war” against the scientific community.

    The scientists seem to believe they can prevail by explaining the basis of climate change in clearer terms, while asserting the partisan motives of “climate deniers.” This has been the strategy since the early days of the Bush administration, yet for many members of the public, a decade of claims about the “war on science” are likely ignored as just more elite rancor, reflecting an endless cycle of technical disputes and tit-for-tat name calling. What are needed are strategies that transcend the ideological divide, rather than strengthen it. Most importantly, snarling, finger-in-the-eye responses to the skeptics risk alienating the more than one-third of Americans (PDF) who remain ambivalent about climate change.