Poll Axed

Rate your teacher on your own time

Listen up, people: If you want to continue to get a weekly dose of quality vicious Buzz product, you're all going to have to stop being so damn reasonable. We're talking to you, Mr. Jim Hirsch, associate superintendent for technology at Plano Independent School District.

Buzz received a press release from www.ratemyteachers.com, a Web site that allows students nationwide to rate their teachers. Plano ISD has blocked student access to the site from campus computers, the release complained. Ah-ha! Buzz thought, what sort of damning information is Plano trying to keep from the righteous public? "School officials are treading on a thin line of censorship where they have no ownership and right to restrict such speech," ratemyteachers.com said. Censorship?! Buzz drooled. Then we called Hirsch. We stopped drooling.

"All of our network resources are here to serve a purpose, and that purpose is education," Hirsch explained. The district purchases a list of Web sites it uses to filter out those that don't serve the school's curricula, and PISD adds and subtracts from the list as it sees fit. No surfing for porn or video games at Plano ISD, sadly. And what educational purpose does an anonymous popularity contest for teachers serve? None Hirsch could think of, so he added it to the list. Buzz couldn't think of one either, especially in a district in which students are assigned teachers and can't shop around for them. Buzz could, however, envision some A-type, micromanaging parents--this is Plano, after all--using the list to berate the district any time one of their little rugrats received a bad grade: "My little Johnny's not stupid; he just has a bad teacher! It says so right here."

So, sorry, ratemyteacher.com, Buzz isn't on your side. Besides, the site is so edited and innocuous that it excludes the sort of valuable information that Buzz wanted when he was in high school, i.e., which teachers are smoking hot. Now that would be a Web site, especially if it had pictures.


For sale?: When last we left Jovan--now calling himself J. Hutton Pulitzer--the CueCat impresario was rumored to be looking into selling bottled rainwater ("Rain Barrels of Laughs," Buzz, September 11). Now he's pitching something a little more traditional: a house. Not just any house, of course. This is Jovan we're talking about. He's looking to sell--ta da!--The Pulitzer Estate. At least that's what we think the self-proclaimed writer, producer, director and inventor is doing with his newest Web site, www.oneofakindranch.com. According to the e-mail spies who keep us informed of his latest money-raising ventures, this site trumpets his ranch (40 minutes south of town off Interstate 45) because it's on the market. It certainly reads like a Realtor's site, though it doesn't mention a price or explicitly state the ranch is for sale. The house boasts 11 bedrooms, 9.5 baths, three kitchens and, of course, a gun range. Not sure how much he'd take for the whole kit and kaboodle, but Buzz bets it's somewhat less than the $37.5 mil he convinced Belo to spend on CueKitty. (For those of you just tuning in, the CueCat was a bar-code reader that attached to personal computers, allowing readers to scan codes and surf directly to Web sites. Belo invested in the technology and took a bath. And in reply to our regular readers' next question--Will you ever give Belo a break on that CueCat thing?--the answer is no.)
 
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