My son wrote the “Grandparent” essay. Well make that the great-grandparent essay. It started with a humorous scene related to the funeral and went on to demonstrate the life-lessons learned from the great-grandparent with a couple of real examples of where my son used those lessons. It was engaging, funny and poignant and a real insight into my son and what he values. It (together with his accomplishments) earned him a likely letter to Harvard and a spot at his first-choice, where he chose to attend. It is not the topic but the delivery.
My perspective is different from most here. I teach in a private high school. We have elements of merit pay at my school. I also accept less pay than my public colleagues because I'm willing to do that for the sake of fewer headaches, and for the chance to design my own curriculum. From my perspective, I'm dubious of my public school colleagues dismissing merit pay or any other education reform aimed at providing a metric for evaluating teachers. We all know one of the biggest (not the only) problem with our education system is bad teachers. We must arrive at a system that rewards good teachers and drives out or trains up bad ones. Standing in the way of this progress is antithetical to progressivism.
Enhanced geothermal energy is potentially a nearly limitless source of competitive electricity. Increased energy efficiency is already saving businesses money and reducing emissions significantly. New generations of biomass energy — ones that do not rely on food crops, unlike the mistaken strategy of making ethanol from corn — are extremely promising. Sustainable forestry and agriculture both make economic as well as environmental sense. And all of these options would spread even more rapidly if we stopped subsidizing Big Oil and Coal and put a price on carbon that reflected the true cost of fossil energy — either through the much-maligned cap-and-trade approach, or through a revenue-neutral tax swap.