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Pointed Commentary
By Linda Starr

Starr Points


Are You a Real Teacher?
To help prospective teachers make the decision of whether or not they're cut out for the job, I decided to take a look at the real teachers I know. I've created this list based on my observations.

The Best Laid Plans
You're ready, able, and full of anticipation about your new group of students. You just know it's going to be a wonderful year. But is it going to be the year you planned?

Twenty Teacher-Tested Tips for a Stress-Free Year
Do you greet the start of a new school year with anticipation liberally laced with anxiety? Have you tried all the traditional tips for lowering job-related stress? If so, we've a tip (or 20) for you.


A Teacher's Prayer of Thanksgiving
Thank you, God, for I am a teacher. Each of my students leaves my classroom changed in some way. Through those students, I have the power to change the world.

Does Inclusion Help or Hurt Students?
The philosophy behind inclusive schools is that all children have the right to be educated with their peers in regular classrooms in neighborhood schools. The question is, can it be done?

Dear Santa ...
What do teachers really want for Christmas? Higher pay? Better benefits? Shorter school days? More attentive students? You might be surprised at the answer to that question.

'Tis the Accentuate the Positive
In the spirit of the holiday season, spread goodwill by saying something positive to some of your most significant "others" -- the parents or teachers of the children in your life.

Dear Santa: A Holiday Wish List for Schools
Put a school on your holiday gift list this year! You'll find that schools are a lot easier to buy for than those distant cousins you've been fretting over -- and the school will be a lot more grateful.

A Resolve To Be Better--in Verse
The New Year dawns, and I awake,
Determined to the core,
To be a better person than Ive ever been before.

Thank a Teacher
The Tuesday of the first full week in May is National Teacher Day, a day set aside to honor those teachers who made a difference in our lives. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank:


You Said It!
"You can please some of the people all of the time or all of the people some of the time, but you can't please all of the people all of the time." If you doubt the truth of that adage, just write an opinion column.

20 Questions
I end this year with a huge pile of news clippings, reports, and surveys -- and a long list of unanswered questions about many issues addressed in that soon-to-be-recycled pile of papers. How many can you answer?


Teaching Today Is Just Impossible -- Isn't It?
We can't "fix" society, but maybe -- just maybe -- we can improve society by fixing our schools. Discover the characteristics shared by the most effective schools.

My Favorite Teacher
My favorite teacher demanded respect, treated us respectfully, and expected us to respect one another. We were a family. We took care of one another. No excuses!

Teaching Isn't for Losers
We all know who the bad teachers are. They are the teachers who publicly whine about the work they do. They are the teachers who give all teachers a bad name.

You Get What You Pay For
"Qualified" isn't the same as quality. Until we are willing to pay for the quality of education we want, we are going to get the quality of education we are willing to pay for. It isn't good enough.

ABCs for Teachers
Despite full-time salaries spent on filling leisure hours left by part-time jobs -- teaching is a tough profession. Hah! The truth is, a teacher's job really is as easy as ABC.

You've Got E-Mail!
Like most of you, I get e-mail -- lots and lots and lots of e-mail. Most hit the recycle bin almost as fast as they hit my inbox. Recently, however, one caught my eye.

Should You Raise the Bar or Lower Your Standards?
Troubled kids don't need teachers who understand their problems; they need teachers who set high standards. All students do better when teachers set the bar high.

Should Schools Parent Our Kids?
Should the community expect teachers and administrators to deal with problems -- or potential problems -- that do not directly affect students during the school day?

Are You a Bully?
Those who can, manage their classrooms. Those who can't, manage their students. The former are educators; the latter are bullies. And you can tell the difference.

Whose Job Is It Anyway?
Let's take a fresh look at the flotsam and jetsam that's accumulated in our schools, and decide exactly what is -- and isn't -- necessary, and what is -- and isn't -- the teacher's job.

Too Many Elephants?
Sex education, drug education, breakfast, health care, family counseling, character education, after-school care -- how many elephants can we get into a phone booth?

No Time for Reading: A Lesson Learned at Gunpoint
68 percent of our fourth graders -- and 85 percent of our juvenile criminals -- can't read. If we don't teach kids how to read, we might as well teach them how to handle a gun.

And Behold!
12 Commandments for Teachers

Dreaming about a short list of guiding principles that can help teachers keep their jobs -- and the overwhelming avalanche of state and national standards -- in perspective.

Help Wanted! Easing the Teacher Shortage
Compare these two jobs held by two young college graduates. Can you tell which one is the teacher? Can you imagine why either one would want to be?

No Break Today!
Eliminating recess gains more time for learning. But does it gain more learning time? Read what experts have to say about the growing trend toward "all work and no play."

Trust Your First-Grade Teacher
If we want to make sure the 95 percent of children who can learn to read do learn to read, we need to reevaluate our administrative policies and let our teachers teach.

Is High School Failing Our Kids
When it comes to high school, we stop adapting our program to fit the students and we start expecting kids to fit the program -- or leave it. About 78 percent leave.

It's Not What You Say -- It's How You Say It
Veteran teachers know that the truth is best presented to parents with a little subtlety and a lot of tact. Hence, the Teachers' Dictionary of Educational Euphemisms.

Thank a Teacher -- Please!
The best teachers teach because they want to make a difference. Schools and communities need to find ways to let them know that they're succeeding.

Girls and Boys Together?
Single-sex schools aren't the right choice for every student, but they should be available to every student. They are an educational alternative whose time has come again.

Schools Offer Fat Kids Slim Hope
Look around your classroom. What do you see? You see the growing problem of childhood obesity. You need to see how your school can make a difference.

It's the Principal of the Thing
Studies confirm that nearly one third of new teachers leave the profession within five years. Why do they leave -- and why don't they stay? The reasons may surprise you.

"Objection Overruled"
Or "You Can Always Go to Law School if Things Don't Work Out"

The question is, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?" Teacher and performance poet Taylor Mali responds.

The Myth of Tenure and the Terrible Teacher
I wanted to learn what keeps bad teachers in the classroom. I learned that when good teachers see bad teachers and fail to extend a helping hand, they only have themselves to blame.

Musings of a C- Parent
What parents wouldn't want to know whether they're doing all they can to ensure their children's success? Report cards for parents? I think it's a great idea.


Turning Students into Prison Inmates
A solution to California's school budget crisis.

Is Your School as Good as the 92nd Street Y?
Is your school worth a $1 million?

Teaching Violence Through Violence
Who can explain corporal pumishment?

Are We Still "A Nation at Risk?"
The state of public education today.

Habla usted ingls?
Bilingual education or English immersion?

Will Private Schools Want Our Kids?
Vouchers for students with disabilities?

Kindergarten Is for Kids
Kindergarteners' developmental limitations.

Don't Blame It on the Internet!
Kids looking for love online.

Stop Tolerating Zero Tolerance
Zero tolerance for zero-tolerance policies.

Tackling Teen Truancy
Effective school-based truancy programs.

Measuring Effective Teaching
Can we use standardized tests.

State Tests Don't Make the Grade
Why teachers don't "teach to the test."

Peer Grading vs. Privacy
Is peer grading a constitutional strategy?

Is Abstinence a $135 Million Subject?
Can schools afford abstinence education.

The NCLB Act
The implications of NCLB.

Dismantling the Devil's Workshop
How can we make schools safer?

Harry Potter and the Censored Tome
The books your students read.

Textbook Tampering
Are textbooks error- and bias-free?

Patriotism and Prayer
Reflecting on prayer and patriotism.

Multiculturalism in a Country at War
Remarks about multicultural education.

Where Is Arabia, Anyway?
Teaching, preaching, and tolerance.