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Tenure: a license to kill (education)

It's not exactly about television, but...

Apple When Charlie Crist vetoed the educational reform bill last week, I thought immediately of George Adamski, who in 1947 became the first American to announce he'd met with space aliens. A friendly bunch -- they even gave him some tummy-ache medicine to pass along to the pope -- the aliens took Adamski on several tours of the solar system in their spaceship over the next few years. In several books he wrote on the subject, Adamski said he liked the dark side of the moon best, for its thriving cities and snowy peaks.

Oh, don't get the wrong idea -- I don't suspect Gov. Crist is a space alien, though I'm sure he'd happily marry a Martian if it would bump up his polling numbers a point or two. It's just that my detailed knowledge of the life of George Adamski is the fruit of teacher tenure, which the reform bill would have eliminated.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I had an elderly Spanish teacher who was obsessed with UFOs, and we spent a lot more class time debating Adamski's theories on Venusian civilization than conjugating irregular verbs. And our comparatively rare forays into Spanish grammar were usually derailed: Any kid who muffed a line in one of the conversational dialogues we were supposed to memorize and recite (Hola Juan, cómo estás? Estoy bien, gracias, y tú?) could immediately reduce the class to chaos by shouting, ``It's not my fault, Miss Napoleon, my mind was seized by Master Control in Ship X-7!'' Can you guess why the school couldn't get rid of Miss Napoleon? For the answer, read my full op-ed column in Tuesday's Miami Herald.

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