Berlinger Thinks I Should Have Taken the Bonus (No Surprise There)!

Longtime readers will know that I periodically receive correspondence from one B. Berlinger, E.D. on topics related to this blog.  Well it seems Berlinger caught wind of my decision to turn down the state’s merit pay bonus and was not a little put out.  His message is below. I have reproduced it here in the interests of representing “both sides” of this important issue. Continue reading

More Teachers Like You

After the very nice gentlemen from KOB 4 News interviewed me on Monday about the AP bonus, I had one half-joking request: just don’t make me look too foolish.

They reassured me that it was not their intention to do so. On the contrary, it was nice to have a school story that wasn’t about a teacher locking kids in a closet or duct-taping them to their desks for a change.

“Don’t worry, man,” one of them said. “We think what you did was great.”

“Yeah,” said the other. “We just wish there were more teachers like you.”

To this I replied, “there are.” Continue reading

AP Bonus? No Thanks.

On Wednesday, June 25th, I was informed by the Human Resources Director at the Taos Municipal Schools that I had been selected to receive a $5000 ‘AP Stipend.’

According to Matt Pahl the Policy Director at the NM Public Education Department, AP test score data from 2012 qualified me to receive the money.  Basically, because I teach the highest performing students in their final year of high school, I qualify for nice fat bonus check that the PED does not think other teachers deserve.

This is merit pay.

I’m being offered a bonus based on the performance of my students. No matter what the governor or the legislature chooses to call it, it is the very definition of merit pay.

While $5000 is an appealing sum to add to my income, I have decided to reject the money for the following reasons: 
Continue reading

Spark NO!-tes

You see what I did there? Ah yeah!

To start out, think about a difficult problem in Algebra, or Trigonometry (or, in my case, addition). You sit down to work on it, but you get confused.  Perhaps there are many variables, or you are unfamiliar with the equation.  You glance at the next few problems, and to your dismay, you find that they are just as confusing…what to do?

Continue reading

Welcome, and Welcome Back!

Feel the excitement!

Feel the excitement!

Greetings, and welcome to! If this is your first visit to my site, thanks for checking it out! If you are a return visitor, thanks for coming back after my long hiatus!

Still in its infancy, this site will serve as a repository of course handouts and syllabi as well as my personal blog. Check it out periodically for updates about what’s going on in my classroom and to see my opinions about the issues facing public education.  If you are interested in receiving email updates whenever I add new content to this site, please subscribe!

Continue reading

More High School Poetry

Photo: 2nd place!!!!

The Taos Tygers celebrate their success at the New Mexico State Poetry Slam. Top left: Rosamond Gimblet, Zia Pollis, Yoma Wilson, Serena Smith, Savannah Rodriguez, Rivala Garcia, Isahbo Hawley, and Kenna Kesson

When the stars threw down their spears 
And water’d heaven with their tears: 
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

-from ‘The Tyger’ by William Blake Continue reading

Tests, Time, and Football



Who’s that handsome fella?


Teachers are fiercely protective of theirs, and with good reason: effective instruction requires a lot of time to take place.  I’m not talking about the time spanning a single class period, or even a week of class periods.  Learning requires months of steady, consistent instruction and study. Continue reading

Welcome, Parents!

Thank you for stopping by, and please take a look around!

While this website is still in its infancy, I envision a bright future for it.  Here, among other things, you’ll find an ongoing series of posts about the state of education locally and nationally, as well as stories from my classroom, and notices of upcoming events.  I hope, also, that it will become a forum for lively discussion of the issues that face students and the schools that serve them.

It will also become a repository of classroom handouts and documents that you and your child can use to stay abreast of what’s happening in class. Continue reading

The Phonies and Bastards Resource is Up and Running!


Biff and the Boyz – Epic Bastards

The Teacher in the Rye Phonies and Bastards Identification Manual – created in honor of Holden Caulfield — is now ready for your contribution!  Join me in creating an exhaustive document that will ultimately provide everything we need to know about how to identify and manage those pesky phonies and dastardly bastards!  Read more…


Working Beyond the Contract: Correction

I made a huge mistake in my original posting.  When I did the math, I assumed that the 3.2 billion was the annual number.  It’s actually the weekly number.

If we take Washington Post at face value and assume that the average teacher is putting in a 53 hour week, or 20.5 hours beyond his contract, the calculation should actually look like this:

3,700,000 teachers X 20.5 hrs/week extra X $42.26 per hour X 36 weeks in the school year = 115,395,156,000.  $115 Billion…

I fixed the local number as well.  Teachers in Taos donate  $4,678,000 in unpaid hours annually if we assume there are 150 teachers in Taos and the rest of the numbers stay the same.

Sorry for the mix up.