Saturday, September 30, 2006

Corporal Punishment

To paddle or not to paddle...

One Down

Lost our first first-year this week. "Kewper" decided she had enough and quit.

This is the first time in three years, and of any class that I've recruited, that someone has quit during the year. Furthermore, she was teaching English II, which is a state-tested subject. There is no way the school district will find another English teacher, which means the kids will most likely have a permanent sub for the rest of the year.

It's all very frustrating.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Paul Reickhoff, a year behind me at Amherst, has an op-ed in today's NYT about the Geneva Conventions. Paul's book, about his time as an Infantry Officer in Baghdad, is Chasing Ghosts.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Great article and book about a current Ole Miss football player, Michael Oher, and the economics of high school, college, and pro football.

NAEP profile of Mississippi. NAEP is the national assessment of schools, much more stingent than the state assessment, MCT. As you can see Mississippi has gone backwards in reading.

The Delta Task Force is looking at ways to revitalize the Delta. In my opinion, unless industry comes back, the Delta will continue to die its slow death.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Is Thug Life a Happy Life?

Do drug dealers make a lot of money?

The question came up a few weeks ago at one the Teacher Corps Saturday classes.

The answer is here.

The presenter, Steven Levitt, is an econmoics prof at the University of Chicago. His outstanding book (and blog) is Freakonomics.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Schools of Education

Arthur Levine's latest work: Educating School Teachers.

His contention: Schools of Education have low admission criteria and low performance criteria. He's right.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Teacher Spotlight

Short (1-3 min) interviews with first and second-years. Shot on 9/16/06.











Here are the articles that have caught my eye this morning:

NYT story about the "segregated swimming pool" in Mississippi. Opening sentence: In the fearful cosmos of the segregationist South, the integrated swimming pool occupied a special place: race-mixing carried to an intimate level.

CL article on the revamped Barksdale Reading Institute, based in Mississippi. Jim Barksdale, founder of Netscape, donated $100 million to improve literacy in Mississippi. The Institute has been around since 2000, but they have not been happy with their results thus far so in the last two years they have revamped the program considerably.

Great blog post by our very own first-year, Lisetta Shah. One of those stories that makes you smile and breaks your heart, all at the same time.

Finally, column in today's Daily Mississippian (the student newspaper at Ole Miss) about obesity. The conservative columnist (ostensibly an Ole Miss student, but given the boilerplate feel of the writing week after week I have a feeling the columns are cut and pasted from somewhere else) comes out in favor of Bill Clinton's proposal to eliminate soft drinks and other sugary snacks from public schools in Mississippi as opposed to a similar proposal put forth by a state task force. Sounds good, right? Both proposals are essentially the same, right?

Here's the catch:

Clinton's proposal goes into effect in 2010. The state proposal starts next year. Thus, the multibillion soft drink industry has put their considerable weight behind Clinton's proposal. Of course, that isn't mentioned in the article. Like they say, if you can't spot the sucker at the poker table...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

MTC Sept. Update

Here is the email I sent out to our alumni and current participants today:

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are all doing well. Online applications for the Mississippi Teacher Corps are up and running. As always, please help us spread the word.

The first application deadline is October 22nd. We will have three more deadlines: December 22nd, February 22nd, and April 22nd. With the exception of the last deadline applicants will be notified of their status within four weeks. For the April deadline they will be notified within two weeks. Each deadline gets more and more competitive so people are encouraged to apply as early as possible.

Speaking of applications it is time to set the annual goal. Each year I set a goal for the number of applications we would like to receive. Here is how we have fared the last three years:

Set Goal of 100
Received 120

Set Goal of 200
Received 270 (most we have ever received)

Set Goal of 400
Received 405 (most we have ever received)

So, drum roll please:

The goal for 2007 is…


That’s right. I’d like to double what we did this past year.

800 applications. We will accept 25 to 28. Training will start Tuesday, June 5th, 2007.

Now, here is the tricky part. Once again, the recruiting budget has been cut. This year’s budget is $2,000 (last year it was $5,000). So, as always, we need your help in spreading the word about MTC. Feel free to forward this to email to any and everyone.

On the website we have two pages dedicated to recruiting.

The first is our Recruiting Materials page. This has all of our brochures and handouts in PDF format. If you work on or near a college campus please print out the “One Sheet Flyer” and post it up for us.

The other page is our Recruiting Events page. You can see the various colleges and universities we will be visiting this fall.

If you talk to someone who is interested please refer them to the website or ask them to contact me. I’ve also found that people interested in MTC get a lot out of the blogs that all of our participants keep. The blogs, more than anything else, give a realistic look at the highs and lows of teaching in critical-needs areas in Mississippi.

We now place about 30% of our teachers in Jackson. This allows us to offer both urban (Jackson) and rural (the Delta) placements.

We are accepting Social Studies applications this year. We didn’t last year, but we still had requests from districts for Social Studies teachers, so Social Studies is back in the fold. We are also accepting majors in things like Latin or German, both of which we get request for.

We have a summer internship for juniors, sophomores, and freshmen. The internship is for June and July and we provide on-campus housing and a $2,000 stipend. The online application for the internship is up.

The News article this month is on the recruiting and application period.

Photo of the Month is from the MTC summer school, courtesy of Ruth Kuhnau.

Profile of the Month is on Meredith Horstkotte, Class of 2007. Meredith is a graduate of Smith College and teaches math in Belzoni.

The first and second-years have been teaching for about a month. They have been up to Oxford twice for Saturday class. The second-years are relaxed and comfortable. The first-years are still making the adjustment to being a full time teacher in a critical-needs area in Mississippi. We are continuing with our small mentoring groups, and that is helping our first-years a lot with classroom management.

Meredith has a nice blog entry here about the difference between being a first-year teacher and a second-year teacher.

Elizabeth has a well-written blog on classroom management.

One of our first-years, Holly, has been covering the ups and downs of the first month.

I’ve been trying to blog once a day. The latest posts are on Education Clich├ęs and Podcasting.

You can read all of the blogs here.

In other news:

Jake Roth, Class of 2007, was named an outstanding educator for Jackson.

Ann Monroe (one of our instructors) and myself have been selected to present at the national AACTE conference in New York City. The presentation is on the use of blogs to augment teacher training.

Finally, Jeff Spanogle, Class of 2006, has been a doing a lot of clean-up work on the website. Jeff did the major redesign over the summer. Hope you like it.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Once again, please help us spread the word about Teacher Corps. The online application is here.

Ben Guest
Program Manager
Mississippi Teacher Corps
Phone: 662-915-5224
Ben's Website
Ben's Blog

Monday, September 11, 2006

Education Cliches

By virtue of being employed by the University of Mississippi I get to take classes for free. I'm slowly working towards my Ph.D in Educational Leadership. I've noticed the same answers popping up with depressing regularity any time an instructor asks a question.

Along with a fellow grad student, I've started to put together a list of cliches that you can use to answer any question that is asked in an education course. You will have a 90% chance of getting the answer right. You should preface the answer with some rhetorical nonsense like "I think what we're really talking about here is that...":

"As educators we need to have high expectations."

"Everyone needs to be on the same page."

"It's a two-way street."

"It's systemic."

More to come...

Sunday, September 10, 2006


Had two-day podcast training this past week. A guy named Jim Lengel did the training.

You can see the fruits of my podcast labor here.

Friday, September 08, 2006


Ever wondered what laws and standards your school has to abide by. Answers here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Google has launched a new search for news archives. Pretty neat.

The Wire

Don't forget, the best show on television, The Wire, starts season four on Sunday on HBO. How does this relate to education and MTC you ask? Read a great interview with the creator, David Simon, here. Money quote:

"There's two little pieces of the American myth that get sold a lot. One of them is if you're more clever than the next guy, if you build a better mousetrap, if you're slick, if you're smart, you'll succeed in this country. And I think that's true. That part of the American myth is not myth. The business climate has changed a lot and the economy has changed a lot, but that's always true. That's capitalism. The other part of the myth that I think has been proven a lie in the past 20, 25 years is that if you're not smarter than the next guy, if you're not slick or clever, but if you're willing to get up every day and work your ass off and come home and be a citizen and be committed to your family and your job and whoever you work for, there will be a place for you, and you won't be betrayed. And I think that has been proven to be a lie."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

3rd and 4th Year Update

So what would a 3rd and 4th year look like? Something like this:

Mississippi Teacher Corps

Third Year
Specialist Degree
30 Hours

Already Completed:

EDCI 557 Computer Concepts (3 hours)
EDRS Ed. Research (3 hours)

June (6 hours):

EDCI 658
Trends and Issues in Teaching (3 hours) ($4,500) (M/W)

EDRS 501
Stats (3 hours) ($4,500) (M/W)

July (6 hours):

EDSE 767
Field Study: MTC Summer School (3 hours) ($2,500) (M/W/F)

EDSE 625
Trends and Issues in Sec. Ed. (3 hours) ($4,500) (T/Th.)

Fall (6 hours):

Content Area Course
Liberal Arts Classes (6 hours) ($25,000) (5x$5,000) (Seven Saturdays)

Spring (6 hours):

EDCI 635
Reflective Teaching (Board Certification Primer) (3 hours) ($4,500) (Seven Saturdays)

EDSE 690
Master’s Seminar in Sec. Ed (3 hours) ($4,500)

June (6 hours):

MTC Summer School (3 hours) (M/W) (?)

Article Publication (Cont. of Field Study) (3 hours) (T/Th.) ($4,500)


Instructor Cost: $55,000
Housing: $8,000 (assuming 14 students)
Books: $2,000
Extra: $2,000

Third Year Total: $67,000

Fourth Year (6 hours)
Board Certification


Meet w/ Mentor
Seven Saturdays


Meet w/ Mentor
Seven Saturdays

36 Hours


Instructor Cost: $4,200 ($300 per person/assuming 14 students)
Housing: $8,000
Extra: $2,000

Total: $14,200

Combined Cost:

No Supts

As part of the the coursework for Mississippi Teacher Corps students are required, in Dr. Mullins' class, to create their own school district. In my district, to save money, I eliminated the role of the superintendent. Looks like this is now happening in the real world...

Monday, September 04, 2006

Expanding Teacher Corps

Planning out how a potential (and optional) third and fourth year for Teacher Corps would work. Very early in the planning stages (and nonexistent in the funding stage), but something like this:

Third Year
Specialist Degree (in b/w a masters and a phd)
Summer, plus seven fall Saturdays and seven spring Saturdays
Closed classes, MTC only
Article Publication

Fourth Year
Board Certification
$6,000 raise
Seven fall Saturdays, seven spring Saturdays; Summers free
Closed classes, MTC only

The cost for setting this up looks to be about $80,000 a year, for both ($60,000 for the third year, $20,000 for the fourth).

Germain and I will meet this week and start putting something together that we can propose to the higher-ups...

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Dorothy and Courtney

Here is a photo of two of my favorite students: Dorothy Belton (left) and Courtney Wilson (right).

Courtney is about to start her junior year at Delta State University, where she is on a full athletic scholarship for basketball.

Dorothy did about a semester of junior college. The last time I saw her she was "hanging out" in Hollandale.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

MTC Home

The new front page of the Mississippi Teacher Corps website is up. Thanks again to Jeff Spanogle MTC 06, for all of his hard work. Jeff is still working behind the scenes cleaning up some of the pages...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Apply Now

MTC is now accepting applications. The first deadline will be October 22nd. Apply online now. It takes less than five minutes...

Summer internship applications here. We offer a $2,000 stipend as well as free housing, and we cover some meals. The internship is for current freshmen, sophomores, and juniors in college who are interested in education, civil rights, and social justice. The internship is for June and July, 2007.

Check out our Recruiting Materials page and our Recruiting Events page.

The Mississippi Teacher Corps: Making a Difference, One Child at a Time.