Public schools – and dictionaries – crucial to success

Newsman Dan Rather attributes much of his success to his education in Houston’s public schools and Sam Houston State University, but he acknowledges he wasn’t quite a finished product when, as a young man, he applied for a job at the Houston Chronicle. He didn’t get it because spelling wasn’t exactly his strong suit.

In a visit to TSTA headquarters yesterday, he recalled the late Dan Cobb, a strong-willed editor who was still running the Chronicle’s newsroom when I started working for the paper years later, saying something to the effect, “We can’t afford to hire a reporter who will spend half his time thumbing through the dictionary.”

As it turned out, Cobb was doing Rather a favor. If spelling remained a weakness, it certainly wasn’t an obstacle to a prestigious career in network television news.

Rather and his grandson, Martin Rather, are now partnering with Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership in the creation of the Rather Prize, a new award designed to recognize the best ideas for improving education in Texas. It was Martin Rather’s idea, and it will be worth $10,000 to the winner and maybe much more than that to Texas school children.

It also is important to note that contest applicants are primarily limited to teachers, retired teachers, students and very recent graduates, people who actually know first-hand about public schools. That means the Dan Patricks, the Donna Campbells and other school privatization advocates and self-styled “experts” who haven’t been in classrooms in years need not apply.

You can find more details about the prize, eligibility, how to enter, deadlines, etc. by clicking on:






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