I’m Stealing This

by

from Harper’s. I doubt they care, but if they do, I’m sure they’ll let me know about it.

See, my nephew Joshy started school this year. As everyone who ever attended the school he’s attending (which is a couple other contributers here) knows….beginning of a school year means magazine sales. I HATE the whole idea of magazine sales. I think it’s a form of prostitution. Here are cute kids. Buy something from them so that we can MAKE MONEY. It makes no sense to me. But that’s neither here nor there.

I’m a good uncle and bought a couple of magazines. One of them was Harper’s, and I got my first issue in the mail today. And like any good reader, I turned straight to the Harper’s Index. Because, I mean, really.

So I’ll share a couple of education-related thingys, since it was sort of an educational related thing that brought Harper’s to my mailbox.

First, there’s this: “Estimated amount that teacher turnover costs U.S. school districts each year in recruiting and training: $7, 000,000,000.” I’m pretty sure that’s billion, although I have no concept of that sort of money. Seems a pay-raise might help some of that. But maybe not.

Then there’s this: “Chances that a new public-school teacher in Philadelphia will leave within six years: 7 in 10.” Roughly 70% by my calculations.

And then: “Chances that an entering high school student will not graduate within the same span: 4 in 10.” Holy cow, that’s a lot of kids not graduating. In SIX years. A lot of kids. What, exactly, does one do these days without a high school diploma if they want to eat? Or, like, pay for stuff?

Depressing. That’s why I’m here. Wanted to bring everyone down today.

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11 Responses to “I’m Stealing This”

  1. odgie Says:

    Michael wrote: “What, exactly, does one do these days without a high school diploma if they want to eat? Or, like, pay for stuff?”

    My guess is that one becomes a telemarketer.

  2. michaellasley Says:

    HA!

  3. urbino Says:

    I think there’s a rule that if you subscribe to Harper’s, you have to write a social novel. There may be an exception, though, for people who subscribed via child prostitution. You might want to shoot Jonathan Franzen an email and ask him for clarification.

    If that book Freakonomics is any guide, people with no h.s. diploma end up making McDonald’s-level wages in the illicit drug trade.

  4. Whitney Says:

    I bet this site will be tagged for keywords by big brother’s data search engines and you’ll (we’ll) all be investigated by the FBI. Granted, most of us probably already have a secret file with them anyway. Well….we do now. 🙂

    I’ve never read “Harpers”. I leave my magazine indulgence to the likes of the real heavy hitters like “Cosmo” & “Glamour”. I always buy “In Touch” if I’m flying on an airplane. I don’t know why…I’m air trash…and proud.

    I’m with you, Mikey, about kids fundraisers. I’d frankly rather them just ask me for $20 than ask me to buy something for $20, which is actually worth about $1 and for which the school will see approximately 50 cents. The logic of it defies me, and when I ask, can I just give them $20, they don’t know how to do that. Messed up.

  5. urbino Says:

    I think it’s a form of prostitution. Here are cute kids. Buy something from them so that we can MAKE MONEY.

    If you think magazine sales is a form of prostitution, you shoulda been there back when said school still had its marathon Valentine’s Day Court/Auction. People literally donated/bid on each class’s court (a king, queen, 2 escorts, and 2 maids, selected by the class itself). Whichever court attracted the most cash, that class got a half-day out of school.

    (The auctioneer, btw, led the fight against integration of one of the nearby public schools. Squirrelly little guy.)

  6. captmidknight Says:

    Michael said:
    First, there’s this: “Estimated amount that teacher turnover costs U.S. school districts each year in recruiting and training: $7, 000,000,000.” I’m pretty sure that’s billion, although I have no concept of that sort of money. Seems a pay-raise might help some of that. But maybe not.
    Then there’s this: “Chances that a new public-school teacher in Philadelphia will leave within six years: 7 in 10.” Roughly 70% by my calculations.
    _________

    I’m not one who believes that everything was better in the past – I’ve read too much history – so whenever I hear some old guy such as myself begin a statement with “… back when I was a kid …” or some other such phrase, I automatically get a little skeptical. In a lot of cases, it’s just nostalgia, and “the good old days” are really today. As far as our educational system, however, I’m not sure that is true.

    I think something fundamental has changed in our educational system, and maybe in our society as a whole, since I was in elementary and high school in the ‘50s and early ‘60s.

    Go ahead. I know quips about “Father knows Best” and “Leave it to Beaver” are on the tips of your keyboard, so bring them on … but ISTM that something basic has changed that has led to the statistics given above as well as the 4 in 10 graduation failure rate given later on. Rather than launch into my own tirade, I’d like to hear what some of your opinions are on the subject. Maybe later, I’ll regale you with some “Old School” stories, but, for now, what do you think?

    My wife and I are off to Memphis to baby sit two grandkids for a couple of days – ages 5 and 18 months and probably welcome a new grandson on Monday.
    Pray for us!

  7. michaellasley Says:

    Hey Capt. I’d love to hear your thoughts. I haven’t studied this much at all. Most of the time when I read things about education, it concerns college and it usually is from people griping about how illiterate college students are today. Which is simply untrue. Yes, there are students who don’t know a comma splice or the virtues of subject-verb agreement and the like. But these types of criticisms emphasize a certain type of knowledge as though it is the only type of knowledge. Most of these criticisms about college students are meant to be veiled references to race. So people will bemoan the days of the past when college students knew what a comma splice was — and it just so happens that the students were rich and white.

    I’ve never seen any proof that things were better in colleges 25 years ago, even though people like to think it was. Back in the 1870s (yes, 18), Harvard had a crisis when one professor thought students couldn’t write well, didn’t know what a comma splice was. So this is a very common problem in universities — it’s been here forever.

    But that’s really a different issue than primary education. I’d love to hear what you think about the problems there.

  8. Terry A. Says:

    The worst thing you can do for these kids is to offer them $20 to bypass the stuff you don’t want to buy. Why? Because the kids are incented to sell the stuff you don’t want to buy — sell five magazines and get a flying pig that makes squealing sounds at sonic-boom levels!

    My son and niece (two separate kids, BTW) sold magazines this year. We’ve already thrown away most of the prizes they “had to have.” But my WIRED subscription will live on for a year.

  9. Whitney Says:

    I posted a long reply about education and the way teachers are forced to teach…and it disappeared when I hit submit. Argh!

    Terry, I DON’T give them $20, I just wish I could because the whole fundraiser thing is so stupid. I much prefer a bake sale or silent auction where the “prizes” are donated and all money made goes to the school. But, I am one of those suckers who buys junk every time. But I’d still rather give the kid $15 and buy them the crappy squealing pig for $5.
    (Oh, and you know what I REALLY hate now…email solicitations for fundraiser junk! I will not pay for the junk then pay for the shipping! You’ve got to be kidding. Plus, I just don’t get to see that “please help me win a prize” look from the kids when I get solicitations in email. It’s that look that gets me buying $15 summer sausage and $9 turtles every time.)

    Besides, I draw from my own experience, and I was never one of those kids incented to sell because of the prizes. I thought the prizes in achievable range were ridiculous and I usually didn’t sell anything (other than to Grandma) now that I think about it…I wanted the “sell 50,000 items” prizes! But we didn’t do too many of those sell-junk things anyway…it was only overpriced gift wrap back then.

  10. urbino Says:

    I think something fundamental has changed in our educational system, and maybe in our society as a whole, since I was in elementary and high school in the ‘50s and early ‘60s.

    One obvious sea change is school integration. The public schools are the only place where our society as a whole is forced to grapple with the problems of our ongoing racial history. Everywhere else and in pretty much every other way, we basically ignore it. The problem is way too big for schools to cope with it alone, and it shows.

    Another change is the sharp rise in two-income and single-parent households. There just isn’t as much time for parents to be involved with their children’s education, which can leave teachers on an island and kids somewhat at sea. The failure of median income to keep pace with the increasing costs of various things — most notably health care and, ironically, a college education — contributes. Consumerism is another biggie.

    No doubt there are others. Those are just 2 off the top of my head.

  11. Terry A. Says:

    Whitney, we had a couple of people offer to give money instead of getting a magazine this year, and my kid(s) totally guilted them without prompting. It was really awesome. I was so proud.

    By the way, this is in this month’s edition of Wired: there is some sort of something in toothpaste that temporarily deadens the part of your tongue that can taste sweet stuff. Hence, when you drink orange juice immediately after brushing, it tastes all yucky. You’re only getting the sour and bitter tastes.

    And with that, I have just validated the entire concept of magazine sales.

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