Hack for America

What if there were a way to replace old, non-excellent teachers with fresh new ones—and best of all, make sure that the new teachers remain freshly excellent? Great news reader! The problem that has long stifled our public schools, causing our students to lag and languish, has at last been solved. The solution comes to us via an opinion writer at the Boston Globe who *gets* that if you let teachers hang around for too long their excellence depletes and they get stale. 

The model may be changing. It could be that a lot of smart young people want to spend a few years teaching and then try something else. If they deliver strong results, is that necessarily bad that they only teach temporarily? —Scot Lehigh, Boston Globe

I have but one response to this idea: bravo, sir. Bravo! In fact, Mr. Lehigh’s bold and visionary solution is so bold and visionary that it seems a shame to confine its brilliance to our failed and failing public schools. Why not let some of our other struggling institutions—say, our newspaper industry—get in on a little of this innovation action?

No opinion writer left behind
You see, like our public schools, newspapers are failing to measure up. The metric measuring this steady descent is a standardized test known as newspaper sales, and like dailies across the country, the Boston Globe has seen scores plummet since the 1990’s, thanks to shrinking advertising revenues. That’s meant lay-offs in newsrooms, including the Boston Globe, where you might be surprised to learn, writers enjoy a union contract that affords them many of the same protections that have stifled innovation in our failed and failing public schools. Jar my memory if you will, gentle reader. What doth one calleth an individual who benefits from a system in which lay-offs are determined, not by freshness, excellence and merit but merely by years on the job? It’s coming to me; it’s coming. Ah, yes! You call that person a LIFO-lifer.

Temporary brilliance
Fortunately it won’t be difficult to find plenty of excellent young people to spend a few years crafting opinion pieces before moving on to something else. I believe they are called freelancers and in this, the era of the Internets, they are rivaled only by education reformers in sheer number. As for delivering “strong results,” I’m betting that these smart young people will have enough freshness and excellence to produce new and different opinion columns for each deadline, rather than submitting the same piece over, over, over, over and over again and hoping no one notices…

Send tips and comments to tips@haveyouheardblog.com.


  1. Excellent news Ed: the Boston Globe does not stand alone, there’s solidarity in the press for getting out the message to the masses about how wonderful privatization of public education is for the people. Data shows that reformers dominate the OpEd section of the Star Tribune, thanks to the Kramer reign, and hardly a conflict of interest is seen with Joel Kramer having been publisher of the Strib, and his sons Matt (co-CEO-o-TFA) and Eli (CEO of excellent high achieving transformational Charter school of high test scores) because it’s really all about the kids, especially helping the poor brown kids. Thankfully, whatever doesn’t get printed in the Strib easily gets published in Kramer’s MinnPost. Easy! Excellent! Transformational!

    Here’s a fun game: read this anti LIFO teacher piece from the Strib OpEd section: http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/146019655.html and THEN search out the authors’ names in google ( MADALINE EDISON, JAMES KINDLE, ALICIA L A CROIX and SARAH SCHULTES ) and add a “+TFA” after each name, and low and behold you discover they are TFAers! They were such transformational young people that they were able to spend a few years crafting their teaching AND at the same time write an opinion piece based on their vast experience! Excellent!

    Thank goodness the Strib is looking out for the kids and letting everyone know when innovation is being halted. http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/209734561.html

    and driving change is not celebrated


    And just in case the editorial board’s piece is missed, the Strib OpEd pieces continue to advocate for the kids with the help of some HEAVILY funded special interest lobbyists and villainthropy groups:


    Transformational Freedom of the pre$$ is alive, innovative, and excellent in Minneapolis. I hope the Boston Globe can meet these same standards of excellence.

  2. Ed, you are delightful!
    I would offer to head-up Hack for America, but I think I already have too much writing experience to qualify.

    Perhaps I could ask my physical therapist if he is interested….

    1. Excellent idea to pass this exciting job opportunity along to your physical therapist! After a couple of years s/he can move onto another career–perhaps physical therapy!

  3. Ahh, touché!

    But I think what you fail to see is that – unlike teachers – opinion writers don’t let themselves be constrained by the excess baggage of things like facts and stuff. That’s what is really weighing down those old-school teachers. They’re so wrapped up in worrying about what actually works for kids, and what the evidence shows. They can’t seem to help themselves. How sad, really.

    Opinion writers, on the other hand, are not the least bit concerned about what they wrote yesterday. It’s soooo 20th century, that kind of worrying and bother. Who needs that?

  4. What a piece of shit that guy is. Teaching, unlike opinion writing, is a profession, not just something that some people do for money and others don’t.

    What’s really going on is that our news media is increasingly becoming populated by dimwitted PR reps like this guy. They’re the ones who get to keep their jobs and they’re increasingly becoming the ones most attracted to this stuff in the first place. There are good journalists, but they often don’t do it for a living and they often don’t work for mass media… they’re either too controversial to get published or too smart to take the abuse.

    So we’re left with these numbskulls hacking away.

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