Monthly Archives: March 2011

Merit Pay for Teachers

When it comes to merit pay for teachers, the whole discussion takes place on very shaky ground. On one hand it seems like a good idea to reward the teachers that are doing their job well. The teachers that are putting the little extras into their work to help kids like learning, like school, and excel to their full potential deserve to be recognized. On the other hand if students simply don’t apply themselves and don’t care about how well they perform, this may be interpreted as the teacher not doing his/her job well, instead of the child/teenager simply not trying and can hurt the teachers performance evaluations.

Higher education issues are nothing new, but merit pay for teachers has been a hot topic in the news with the recent bill passed in Florida. One major problem that teachers, principals, superintendents and school districts alike are seeing is that there is no funding to go along with the bill. Where it has already been 2-3 years since teachers have received a raise, the simple fact that a new bill was passed, does not make the money available to fund these “merit raises”.  Not to mention the extra money and staff that is going to be needed to fund all the additional testing int the schools that will be required.

But the debate goes deeper than just the additional money it is going to cost the school district and takes into account the pressure put on the teachers to try and teach students in a way that they can “pass the test”. In addition to the fact that money isn’t there right now and the testing means and method still need some reforming, a fundamental question being asked is how this will affect the teacher. Without the right type of evaluation process, the teachers that are doing a good job, but have a few kids that don’t do well on tests, could end up with their job in jeopardy.

On the up side,  merit vs tenure may be able to help get some of the teachers that are only there because they are tenured, out of the system. This may also give some of the new teachers more time to prove how valuable they are, instead of always being the first ones to be laid off simply because they are “the new guy”.

While there is still much debate and many questions about the new merit pay bill in Florida and how it will work, other states are considering the benefits of a merit pay system. The idea of rewarding those that do a good job is what people hope for. The nightmare of determining a way to effectively evaluate who is doing a good job is the major problem. Everyone likes to be rewarded for a job well done but having your pay and job determined by the results of how someone else performs (e.g. student test scores) just seems like another No Child Left Behind nightmare.

St. Patrick’s Day

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, we thought it would be a good idea to go over some of the basics of St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday is celebrated all over the world, but where did it originate, how did it come to be and who exactly is St. Patrick?

What is St. Patrick’s Day?
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated today as a day of feasting celebration. This is done in honor of the anniversary of the infamous missionary’s death in the late 5th century on March 17th. The Irish celebrate this day as a religious holiday as well, in honor of St. Patrick’s missionary work. The holiday is celebrated by the Irish with church in the morning and feasting and drinks later in the afternoon and into the evening. Although the holiday takes place during the Christian season of lent, a temporary prohibition on the consumption of meats and alcohol takes place on March 17th in honor of the holiday. St. Patrick’s Day has grown in popularity throughout the world. Many Americans celebrate the holiday because there is so much Irish heritage found in the great melting pot.
Who was St. Patrick?
Mostly known for his work as a Christian missionary in Ireland spreading the word during the 5th century, Saint Patrick actually had a very traumatic introduction the first time he stepped foot on Irish soil. As a young man, Patrick’s family’s estate was robbed by Irish pillagers. He was held in captivity in Ireland for six years. This was the time St. Patrick is said to have discovered God and Christianity, as he was not from a particularly religious family. His ever-growing religious beliefs helped him to endure his time spent in captivity. It also helped him gain the courage to escape.

St. Patrick eventually did escape and made his way back to Britain. Several years later, St. Patrick decided to go back to Ireland, this time on his own accord, to teach Christianity to the Irish peoples. This is how he eventually became the missionary and saint we know and celebrate every year on March 17th. Over the centuries following his life, St. Patrick became known for many fictional triumphs including the tale that he rid the entire country of Ireland from snakes, which really was just an exaggerated story.

St. Patrick’s Day in America
St. Patrick’s Day was first celebrated in America in 1737 in Boston. It has become a very secular holiday famous for shamrocks, wearing green, leprechauns, and corned beef and cabbage. While the Shamrock is believed to have originated by St. Patrick using a shamrock to explain the Trinity (how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can exist as separate elements on the same entity) but why we wear green is a little unclear. It is thought the first color of St. Patrick’s day was blue but evolved to be green over the years. Green is one of the three colors of the Irish flag, Ireland is known as the Emerald (green) Isle, it is also the color of the shamrock and the color of spring.

Pinched if you are not wearing green? This is an entirely American tradition, not part of the Irish celebration of St. Patrick’s Day at all. Probably started in the early 1700s it was believed that leprechauns could not see green. Leprechauns were believed to be little fairy creatures that go around pinching people. Wearing green would keep the leprechauns from seeing and pinching you. People started wearing green to remind others that if they did not wear green leprechauns would sneak up and pinch them.

Why corned beef and cabbage? Cabbage has long been a staple food in Ireland, although it was originally served with bacon, Irish immigrants couldn’t afford bacon and started serving it with the cheaper counterpart, corned beef.

Many public schools and communities celebrate St. Patrick’s day with parades, activities, or other St. Patrick’s Day crafts and activities.

Johnny Appleseed Day

Although it is one of the lesser known holidays in March, Johnny Appleseed Day on March 11, is a great day to educate children about Johnny Appleseed and his love of planting trees along roads in Pennsylvania and New York. Johnny Appleseed was born John Chapman, but after arriving in Ohio to continue spreading seeds along the Ohio River, he became known as Johnny Appleseed.
Johnny Appleseed is known for building tree nurseries, and would sell his trees for barter. That is how Johnny became known for his poor choice of dress. Johnny Appleseed would give away the nicer clothes he received and would don the worst of the clothing he received. This is why Johnny Appleseed is imagined by historians as wearing rags and a pot on his head, although this was not actually the case. He did however go without shoes in the summertime to preserve leather.
Johnny Appleseed had a deep love of trees as well as animals and the rest of nature. Johnny Appleseed spread life love and his love of the Christian gospel as his work as a missionary. Johnny Appleseed Day is actually celebrated twice a year, on both March 11 and September 26. The reason behind celebrating this holiday twice per year is because historians are conflicted as to whether the day should be celebrated on the day of his death (March 11) or his birth (September 26.) As a result, the holiday comes twice a year.
Learning about Johnny Appleseed and incorporating a fun project for any home or school project is a great way to spice up the history curriculum.
  • Teach your children about the history surrounding Johnny Appleseed and his love for trees and spreading this love to other areas of the country.
  • You may also teach your children about Johnny Appleseed day by incorporating apples into your meals and snack throughout the day with an apple pie in honor of Johnny Appleseed’s love of planting trees.
  • Another way to celebrate is to have your children dress up as Johnny Appleseed. Go barefoot in the house and dress up in their older, rattier clothes.
  • Or celebrate Johnny Appleseed day by helping the children plant a tree in your yard. Encourage the children to observe this unique holiday by spreading the love of nature like Johnny Appleseed.

In like a lion, out like a lamb

Have you ever heard the saying March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb? Well, in honor of entering March, educationbug.org is taking a look at one of the most popular March weather-related sayings of all time, “In like a lion, out like lamb.” The saying can also be said in reverse depending on what weather the beginning of March brings us. Check out EducationBug to read about other famous sayings and idioms like, Eye for an Eye and Cry Wolf.
As we enter the springtime months, we often speculate if we will be blessed with sunny skies and T-Shirt weather, or if we will have to open up those umbrellas and stay bundled a little while longer through the month of March. Many of us might think back to the old well-known saying March comes In like a lion, out like lamb. Where did this saying originate? “In like a lion, out like lamb” is one of the most popular weather sayings we know to day. According to The Farmers Almanac, the popular saying is derived from members of ancient civilizations who often believed that spirits played a role in the outcome of the weather. Depending on the spirits’ motive, whether good or bad, would affect the type of weather we see. These people believed in the idea that there needed to be a balance in life and the weather, hence the saying “In like a lion, out like lamb.” Because March is stuck in the transition period of winter changing to spring, many areas around the globe see the most adverse weather conditions during March. This is why the popular phrase “In like a lion, out like lamb” is so commonly used in reference to this particular month. The saying can held true in many instances. Ultimately however, this saying is more of a rhyme rather than an accurate saying to depict March weather.
Other March weather sayings include:
  • A dry March and a wet May? Fill barns and bays with corn and hay.
  • As it rains in March, so it rains in June.
  • March winds and April Showers bring forth May flowers.
Check out our new Popular Phrases and Sayings section on educationbug.org to learn about other commonly used phrases and sayings and the meanings behind them. We are adding new articles to this category regularly. Also, you can follow us by adding us to your RSS feed or by following our blog. Don’t forget to like EducationBug on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!