Tuesday, August 27th, 2013


Tony Danza

Dear Teachers,

Here is my little note of encouragement as you are either returning to yet another school year or beginning your teaching career. I wish you all the best year of your students’ lives—I know that’s what you all wish for. The truth is, though, that this is a tough time for teachers and it’s gotten tougher since I taught for one year at Northeast High in Philadelphia in 2010. I’m back there often and I was just there for commencement where six hundred kids graduated. The day was electric! That’s the good news. The bad news is that, the night before, there was a retirement party for thirty-four of the school’s teachers. Their overriding reason for leaving was the contract they’d been offered by the district. Being a teacher was never about getting rich, but the continuing pay cuts and further givebacks proved to be a tipping point for them. It’s too bad that teachers, after years of service, are forced to decide when to leave based on any issue other than that they are ready to stop doing what they love. No reflection on a job and career done well, just a pragmatic decision about money. To many teachers, this is the final indignity. There were tears. (more…)

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksIn a news conference, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced an agreement with the family of Henrietta Lacks that will restrict NIH-financed research on the HeLa genome. Two members of Lacks’ family will serve on the HeLa Genome Council, marking the first time tissue donors have had a voice in the process and finally giving the Lacks family a say in how Henrietta’s cells are used. To learn more about this landmark announcement for which author Rebecca Skloot’s book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has played such a large role, please read the following articles: The HeLa Genome: An Agreement on Privacy and Access from the NIH, Nature Magazine and The New York Times.