What is a good teacher? How do you recognize that rare individual? One of the problems Bill and Melinda Gates have had in making grants for education reform through their billion-dollar foundation is that no one seems to know what makes a good teacher. Indeed, Gates stated: “The single most decisive factor in student achievement is excellent teaching.” But no one could tell him what made a good teacher. But since I spent 12 years — 1932 to 1944 — in public schools, I think I have a good idea of what a good teacher is, and I wish to pass on to Bill and Melinda and the coming generation of teachers some of the wisdom I have acquired.

It’s ironic that it is Barack Obama now ramming a contraception policy down Catholics’ and other Americans’ throats. Little more than a month ago, former Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos spent 10 minutes in a Republican debate grilling presidential contenders Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney on, of all things, contraception.

I recently submitted what I took to be a spirited defense of Ron Paul to a well regarded right-leaning publication — that is to say, a publication that is widely esteemed by notable establishment neoconservative Republican pundits. It was rejected. 

In what follows I relay my latest experience with its editors. I welcome any feedback from readers — including feedback that is critical: if I am wrong, please call me out on it. I ask only that you supply reasons for your assessment. 

No surprises here: “A federal appeals court today declared California’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional … The three-judge panel of the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a lower court judge correctly interpreted the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedents when he declared in 2010 that Proposition 8 — a response to an earlier state court decision that legalized gay marriage [sic] — was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians.“

In my last column I stressed the need for the adult, self-teaching reader to be able to break up multisyllabic words into their syllables, so that the reader could see the phonetic structure of the word. The sight reader tries to find little words that he can recognize in multisyllabic words, which might give him a hint of what the word says. He is looking for a small, recognizable picture in the big word. But because that method is so inefficient, the reader is more likely to misread the word.