Posted tagged ‘sports’

Monday medley: teacher tenure, home runs and iPads

June 14, 2010

Star-Advertiser editorial writer Christine Donnelly continued her look at the principals’ view of the education universe with an excellent piece on teacher tenure.

In a nutshell, principals want more flexibility to hire teachers who best fit the needs of their schools and not be as bound to the seniority system.

They’re frustrated that younger teachers they’ve trained to carry out their programs can be bumped by more experienced teachers who may not be as good a fit for their schools. Some principals think tenure also breeds a sense of unhealthy complacency. From Donnelly’s article:

Farrington High School Principal Catherine Payne said the teacher-transfer process is a vestige of an outdated way of thinking that is holding back the public schools.

“You want immediate improvement in the public school system? Get rid of tenure — for everybody. The system, the way it works now, fosters a sense of job entitlement among some people. It’s not everybody, definitely not. But even if you have one or two people on the staff who act like they have a job for life and don’t have to work hard to keep it, it has a very negative effect,” said Payne, explaining that while only teachers and principals gain tenure, other school employees gain similar job security known as “permanent status.”

Payne said replacing tenure with progressively longer contracts based on fair performance evaluators would make employees less complacent while protecting their rights.

“I tell people this all the time. It would help. A lot. That said, I don’t have high hopes that it’s going to happen.”

Acting Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi and the teachers’ union are open to discussing changes to the tenure system in upcoming contract negotitions, but as always, the devil is in the details. The HSTA was also open to drug testing until refusing to implement the agreed-to contract.

In any case, it’s good to see some of the shouting about education being replaced by thoughtful discussion of the nitty-gritty ways we can improve our schools, and Donnelly has been doing an especially good job of facilitating this.

***

Stephen Tsai had a fascinating story that answered the question that was puzzling me last week about the power surge in women’s softball, which he reports is mostly the result of lighter composite bats with bigger barrels and more flex and bounce.

This takes nothing away from the NCAA record-setting home run binge of the University of Hawai’i Rainbow Wahine this year.

It takes tremendous athleticism and eye-hand coordination to get the barrel of any bat on the high-caliber of pitching at the top level of college softball. Not to mention that other schools use the same bats as the Wahine, but weren’t able to go deep nearly as often.

***

I was watching my 6-year-old granddaughter working on an Apple iPad yesterday and it struck me that kids her age will probably never have much use for traditional computers and laptops with keyboards and upright screens.

She watched videos, browsed the Web, listened to music, played games with unbelievable graphics, drew funny pictures of her big brother and used innovative programs that drilled her on reading and math — all by gliding her little fingers intuitively across the screen with no instruction required.

By time she’s of an age where she needs to type in a lot of data, the iPad will be in its third or fourth generation and will likely have new input options that make the traditional keyboard obsolete.

I’m at the point where I’m doing 90 percent of my writing on an iPod Touch that fits in the palm of my hand, and I’m not yet convinced that the bigger iPad would be better for the task.

(I’ve heard all the cracks about how this explains my small thinking.)

A great season of ‘Bow ball

June 8, 2010

I don’t follow sports as closely as I used to, but it was hard not to get caught up in the University of Hawai’i’s late season success on the baseball diamond, both the men and the women.

The Rainbow Wahine made the College World Series and they did it in exciting fashion, upsetting top-seeded Alabama in the Super Regionals and setting an NCAA record 158 home runs led by Kelly Majam’s WAC record of 30.

I’m not sure where the burst of power in women’s softball has come from, whether it’s equipment or training and conditioning.

A women’s softball game involving top teams with good pitchers used to be 1-0 or 2-1 affairs, but in the NCAA tournament balls seemed to be flying out of the park every time you looked up even though they moved back the fences.

With so many returning stars, the Wahine look to be a major power and a major local draw next year, too. I hope to take my 7-year-old granddaughter often to challenge her unfortunate notion that a young girl’s highest aspiration in sports is cheerleading.

It was also good to see the Rainbow men get hot late in the year to win the WAC tournament and make the NCAAs, probably saving coach Mike Trapasso’s job.


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