Search for America's worst teachers

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Well, it had to happen sometime. Following the success of America's Top Model, American Idol, and all the other star search shows, it was only a matter of time before someone went hunting for America's worst teacher. Unfortunately, however, this is one contest that won't be televised.

If you're like me, you probably remember the best teacher you ever had. You remember how she or he stayed after with you, put endless amounts of energy into getting you excited about your education, and generally did everything possible to make school seem less like a prison and more like an opportunity.

Still, for every George Washington, there's a Benedict Arnold and, just as night follows day, you probably had an equally memorable teacher from hell. You know the one: this is the teacher who berated you in front of everybody, gave you grades that were lower than your shoe size, and generally made every class period feel like an afternoon at the dentist. If you remember your worst teacher, now might be the moment to get your revenge. Rick Berman, a lobbyist and outspoken opponent of teaching unions, has announced a contest to determine America's ten worst educators. The finalists will each win $10,000, in return for which they will agree to resign. Presumably, this whole process will be followed by much merriment.

To nominate up to three of your least favorite teachers, simply go to the contest website and enter their names. You must be over the age of 12, you cannot nominate yourself, and you must write an anecdote about your terrible teacher. All nominees must be tenured, must be members of a union, must still be teaching, must not be currently undergoing disciplinary proceedings, and must be under the age of 50. Finally, all entries have to be received by midnight on May 15, 2008.

The ten finalists will be chosen after the close of the contest and will be offered the $10,000 in return for a promise to retire forever from teaching and all related jobs. If the winners accept this money, they will be legally bound by this agreement and will have their names and reasons for nomination nationally published.

Reading about Berman's contest, I found it hard to imagine why a teacher would willingly submit herself or himself to this humiliation for a measly ten grand. Then I remembered how much teachers make and realized that there are probably quite a few who would be happy to end their careers in return for a nice lump sum. Of course, the fact that $10,000 might be enough to make a teacher permanently turn his or her back on teaching seems to offer proof that teaching unions are necessary. On the other hand, if Berman has the money to throw around, I guess this is better than spending it on hookers (I'm looking at you, Spitzer!). I only wish that my chemistry teacher, Mrs. Olech, wasn't already retired!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He taught for ten years, and would have made more money working at McDonald's.

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