I'm starting today's roundup with Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal for personal reasons:
I've been totally slammed with my paying gig, keeping up with publication schedules while helping to plan two conferences for next month, but I got an email this morning from a parent whose 10-year-old daughter had just attended a media preview for a new art exhibit as an accredited reporter for us, and turned in a really good story.
"As a teacher, there is nothing more satisfying than watching a young person rise to the occasion because someone gave them a challenge, treated them like an equal and told them they could do it. Thank you!"
On one hand, it's strange to get praised for simply doing the job the way you're supposed to, but I guess that's a constant: I saw my father and grandfather gain that sort of recognition in a completely different industry.
On the other, they only had to deal with interference by Dilbertesque management.
Teachers today face an entire nation seemingly dedicated to belittling their skills, yanking away their resources and saddling them with irrelevant, counterproductive and overwhelmingly time-consuming demands.
I'm lucky to be not only immune to educational "reform" but to have a good boss.
Nevertheless, while I recognize the strictures and frustrations teachers face, you still have to do the job right and that means keeping your eyes open for whatever life preservers, inflatable rafts and other bits of potentially life-saving flotsam float past.
(And I'll bet that mother/teacher does just that, for her students as well as for her daughter.)
And SMBC has it right: You have an absolute duty not to confuse a shortcut with a solution, and formula-driven teaching is not simply expedient or even just lazy.
It's actively, soul-crushingly destructive.
Good teachers get that, but I remember a disspiriting conversation from 20 years ago -- before NCLB or Waiting for Superman or any of that -- with a really good teacher about the dilemma she faced this time each year:
Imagine you have 27 kids in your fourth grade class, and there are three fifth grade classrooms. One teacher there is excellent, one is well-intentioned but mediocre, one is genuinely toxic.
We'll stipulate that your students are evenly distributed among the brilliant, the average and the struggling. You have to assign one-third of them to each of those teachers, with whom they will spend the next academic year.
Speaking of tough choices
Scott Stantis continues his dismayed riff on the search for an acceptable candidate, and, while he is openly conservative, the occupants of the Republican clown car have been getting the same treatment this Hilary-equivalent is receiving.
That final line is a brilliant bit of dialogue, given the tone of the Clinton campaign so far, which makes Jeff Dangizer's Bernie Sanders cartoon a nice companion piece.
I've always liked and admired Bernie -- even when he was just a local figure -- but I'm particularly happy that he is running for the Democratic nomination and not as a third-party candidate, because, assuming he sticks to that, he can harness the energy of the perfection-seekers without draining votes if (heh) he doesn't get the nod.
And if Hilary doesn't want to talk to us, she'll goddam well have to talk to Bernie.
Between Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul, we may find both eventual nominees dragged kicking and screaming into meaningful dialogue by the unelectable candidates within their respective parties.
That's not quite how it's supposed to work, but I'll take what I can get.
And speaking of being dragged into the light
I'm not calling these cartoons on the FIFA indictments a Juxtaposition of the Day.
Rather, the Juxtaposition of the Day is that between (A) Texans who want the federal government to leave them alone but you can bet won't be turning down any federal aid now and (B) those in other countries who hate when we play "Cops of the World" but are now applauding the FIFA arrests.
I've seen a lot of "It's about time!" response from non-Yanks, both in the news and on Facebook, and I agree, but, then again, it does prompt the response of "Well, if you all knew so much, why didn't you bust them yourselves?"
Maybe it's part of some kind of exchange deal, and, in the coming days and weeks, we'll see Germany and France and the UK start hauling away American bankers in handcuffs.
'Cause we can't afford to mess with the people who run our national sport, either.
I've also seen some citations of a piece John Oliver did last year, which absolutely sums it up and is even more relevant in terms of "What did we know and when did we know it?"
I ran it when it was fresh, along with some damning graphic journalism on the failures of the World Cup as an event, and, while I hope you'll go take a look, here's the critical passage:
1. I love seeing the best footballers of each nation get together once in four years for a great tournament.
2. I hate the greed and corruption of FIFA and nearly everyone involved in the World Cup who does not wear spiked shoes.
3. I can't help but think you could get everyone to come play futbol even if you didn't allow quite so many pigs to belly up to quite such a large and over-filled trough.
And here's John Oliver saying all that, but funnier and with footnotes and in a more appropriately knowledgable accent: