December 1989

This Issue
Vol. 01, Issue 03

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Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I love ALF. I enjoy the humor in the show, and I appreciate the character's underlying sensitivity. I am wholeheartedly in favor of keeping him on television. But visits to dozens of classrooms as a supervisor of student teachers have convinced me we should see a lot less of him in school.
One afternoon, more than 75 years ago, teacher Caroline Pratt was watching a friend's 6-yearold son create a railway system out of old boxes. It struck her that children like to reconstruct the real world when they play. They build houses, trucks, hospitals, and grocery stores, not just for the sake of building, but also to explore the relationship of one thing to another. She guessed that as children play, they test and increase their knowledge about how the world works.
It's as inevitable as lost mittens in January: Students make teachers sick, so to speak. When they enter the classroom, teachers face a daily germ-fest from kids harboring colds, flu, sore throats, rashes, and other contagious unpleasantries, some of which can empty a classroom (or most of a school, for that matter) almost as fast as a fire drill. There is no way to avoid every contagious bug. But there are ways to minimize the risk to both teachers and students. Knowing something about the common, communicable illnesses is one of the most important. A teacher who realizes, for instance, that the odd rash on Kevin looks like a case of highly contagious impetigo can refer the child to a doctor for necessary treatment, and can do so before the condition spreads to others.
Two years ago, inspired by his inability to reward his best students adequately, Will Fitzhugh gave up a job at Concord (Mass.) High School to sink his entire life savings-- and then some--into a project that would finally allow him to give students the A pluses they deserved.
Cathy Memmott always wanted to be a teacher. But all through school, family and friends discouraged her from following that dream. She studied history and political science in college, moved to New York to work for a prestigious law firm, and planned to attend law school and pursue a career as a lawyer.
I could see the cheat sheet plain as day, sticking partly out of his desk in the back of the room. He'd fixed it so he could slip the paper in or out of his desk without using his hands.
The NEA's government-relations department has produced the first-ever set of Congressional cards.