Tag Archives: Teaching

Teachers Ought to Have Free Access to Information

This idea has been rumbling around in my head a lot lately.  So let me get it out.  Teachers are underpaid, by some analyses.  Teachers use their own money in their daily jobs, that’s been documented.  Teachers impact the future, one student at a time.

I’m not arguing that teachers get paid more, that’s for bureaucrats and politicians to decide.

I’m not saying that teachers should get more control over the budgets that impact them, that’s for administrators and accountants to decide.

I’m saying that if a student comes to me and is interested in, say, semiconductors and the forces on charge carriers and I mention the Hall Effect, and then we search and I find this:


Hasn’t something fundamentally gone wrong when something as fragile but inherently powerful as a student’s transient interest gets frustrated by a paywall?  Is there any downside to giving students/teachers free access to cutting-edge materials that could ignite a student’s interest?

And what are we saying to students at schools that can’t afford even the rent of a paper, versus those students at schools where that rent is no real obstacle?

P.S.  I’m a conservative, I believe that if you don’t pay for something, you will treat it with a level of appreciation directly proportional to the amount it cost you.  But, I’m also dismayed that sometimes the best information or most current information is hedged off from those who *may* just appreciate it or need it the most.  I guess I am asking that scientific journals allow students/teachers free access, since long-term it is in their best interest.  Don’t they want more and more articles to review and publish?  Doesn’t the scientist of tomorrow deserve to see what the scientists of today are thinking?

How I Left Microsoft to Become a Teacher (2011)

I wrote a letter to Teach for America (TFA) in 1991.  At the time I was an Engineering Cooperative Education (Intern) at Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois.  As I read that letter today, I find the same passions surfacing now that are also in that letter.  If you are reading this, and have ever considered teaching, then you know what I mean.

The one website you need as you begin your journey to become a teacher is:  http://pathway.pesb.wa.gov/

It has a checklist, sample timelines, table of teacher preparation programs, and a FAQ.  If you still have questions or just want to ask me something, drop me an e-mail.

It may be helpful for me to relate my experience in this process, so let me do that here.  [rough outline]

  • Some time in 2009 I felt like I should look into teaching as a “next move”.
  • I took the WEST Exams in Feb ( B), Apr ( Math), Jun ( Physics) 2010.
  • I matriculated to MAT at SPU (2 year program) in Summer of 2010.
  • Fall of 2010 I realized that 9 credits per quarter was too much, so I opted for certificate only option in the MAT track.  That took me down to 6 credits per quarter.
  • January 2011 I sent e-mail to 300+ principals and superintendents in WA telling them about myself.  A few replied.  One of them has hired me.  That was also the month that I switched from being a manager at Microsoft to being an individual contributor.
  • Feb-Mar 2011 I realized that MAT wasn’t the best fit, I applied to ARC at SPU and PLU.  Got accepted to both.  Chose to stay at SPU in the ARC program MTMS (Master of Teaching Math and Science).
  • During the same time I realized that I needed to get paid during internship, that is possible if you are in an ARC program, and get a school district to hire you on a conditional or an emergency teacher certification.
  • August 31, 2011 is my last day at Microsoft.
  • September 1, 2011 is my first day as a teacher.  Stay tuned for more details on that.

Salaries for teachers in the State of Washington are determined by year of service and number of quarter hours above and beyond BA, MA or PhD.  Here is the breakdown in salary for 2010-2011 school year.


RIP Jaime Escalante, 1930–March 30 2010

Jaime Escalante was born in La Paz, Bolivia in 1930. Both of his parents were teachers who worked in a small Aymara Indian village called Achacachi. He became a teacher himself, and developed a widespread reputation for excellence during 12 years of teaching math and physics in Bolivia.

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Mr. Escalante’s many teaching awards include the Presidential Medal for Excellence in Education, the Andres Bello Prize from the Organization of American States and the Free Spirit Award from the Freedom Forum, a foundation affiliated with USA Today and dedicated to the preservation of the First Amendment. He was also inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 1999.

In the spring of 1998, Mr. Escalante announced his retirement from teaching.

Mr. Escalante passed away on Tuesday, March 30, 2010.

In 1974, Mr. Escalante was hired as a basic mathematics teacher at Garfield High School, a troubled inner-city school in East Los Angeles. His spectacular success teaching advanced mathematics to gang members and other students who had been considered "unteachable" attracted national attention. When his story was told in the acclaimed film "Stand and Deliver" (1988), Escalante became a national hero.
From 1974 until 1991, Mr. Escalante taught in the L.A. Unified School System. From 1991 until 1998, he taught algebra and calculus for the Sacramento Unified School District.
To reach more students, he became the host of the acclaimed PBS television series, "FUTURES". "FUTURES" introduces students to the exciting and astonishing variety of math and science-based careers. It became one of the most popular classroom programs in the history of PBS and has been honored with more than 50 awards from educational and professional organizations including the highest honor in the broadcasting field, the George Foster Peabody Award. He also appeared in two family specials for PBS, "Math…Who Needs It?!" and "Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun." Both have received multiple awards and continue to be popular among teachers, parents and students.
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