Today Sean Carroll emailed various bloggers, defying us to participate in the DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge 2008. Here’s how it works: we (the bloggers) pick projects that we like in underfunded public schools. Then we beg our readers to donate small amounts of money to make those projects happen. Any blogger whose readers can’t or won’t contribute is revealed as weak, pathetic, and inadequate—as are the readers themselves.
Now, do I seem like the sort of pusillanimous coward who would back down from such a direct challenge to his bloghood? Who would cede the moral high ground to a physicist?
Then let the word echo from the mountaintops and RSS feeds. I, Scott Aaronson, am now seeking to raise up to $7000 for public school teachers trying to:
- Help “gifted” students, meaning those blessed with the gifts of awkwardness, alienation, and solitude. (Note that in the US, less than 0.02% of the federal education budget goes to this lucky group.)
- Teach evolution.
- Buy Art Spiegelman’s Maus (the acclaimed graphic novel about the Holocaust, and an astonishingly un-P.C. work for the classroom).
- Buy Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the classic and oft-censored howl against doofosity.
Twain, incidentally, was the one who wrote that “in the first place, God made idiots. That was for practice. Then He made school boards.” The genius of DonorsChoose is that it bypasses those pinnacles of God’s handiwork, letting you route money directly to deserving teachers.
So: if, in your time reading Shtetl-Optimized, you’ve enjoyed one entry, I ask you to go here and donate $10 to a featured project of your choice. If you’ve enjoyed ten entries, I ask you to donate $25 (you get the bulk discount). If you’ve enjoyed every entry (!), I ask you to donate $50 (that’s the Platinum Elite Package).
If you’re currently a student or Wall Street broker, you can of course scale down your donation appropriately.
And no, this won’t save the world or even swing the election. But … sniff … maybe Sean Carroll will finally respect me.
Update (Oct. 6): Thanks so much, everyone! So far we’ve raised $2,049 (counting my own small contribution).