Recently I’ve started a new series called Sunday Shout Out where I can provide links to news stories, blog posts, and other things that I think are interesting and noteworthy. If you’re interested in participating or being featured in my next Sunday Shout Out, just drop me an e-mail.

First up in news is that the new Harry Potter movie was released Thursday night/Friday morning (depending on how you look at it). I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m excited to see it as soon as possible. To tide everyone over until the second half comes out in July, here’s a YouTube video that’s been made in honor of everyone who waited in line, the link to which I found on Facebook.

Another link making the rounds amongst my friends on Facebook is the idea to do away with bonuses given to teachers who earn their Master’s degrees. I have some problems with this idea. First off, most fields typically pay a higher wage to employees who are more qualified than others. A plumber earns more than a journeyman, a librarian earns more than a paraprofessional, a doctor earns more than a nurse, etc. We assume that the degree indicates a higher level of education, knowledge, and competency, and that has never come up for debate. To treat teachers differently when they are already getting paid so little is outrageous. Secondly, I take offense that Bill Gates is given the authority to speak on this matter when, as far as I know (and I’m willing to be proven wrong), he is unexperienced and untrained in the education fields. Being able to give money to improve the education system does not mean you know how to do it yourself. Yes, I’ll admit, he might have some good ideas, but they should be vetted through the proper channels. I give money to cancer research every year, but that doesn’t mean I have the authority to tell researchers how to do their job. Finally, teaching is the only profession I know where you are judged by the success of others and not by your own success. If a car mechanic was unable to fix your car, you’d fire him, not the person who taught them. If a firefighter could not operate the equipment to put out a fire, you wouldn’t keep him on staff and terminate his teacher. If an athlete doesn’t perform, you don’t fire the coach. But that’s exactly what we do with teachers because we’re not in a position to “fire” students. I realize there are bad teachers and good teachers, but I feel like there has to be some other way to recognize and separate the good from the bad. Maybe instead of testing the students, teachers should be forced to complete and pass aptitude tests of their own, to prove they are still knowledgable. I’m sure there are hazards to that line of thinking as well, and I’m certainly not an expert on the subject, but I don’t think withdrawing monetary bonuses for advanced education is the right way. Because honestly, who would you rather have teaching your children, the person with the master’s or the person without?

Okay, calming down. Rant is over. Moving on…

The Contemps, a group of authors of young adult contemporary fiction, has announced the winners of their give-away. No, it wasn’t me. But I am happy for everyone who won copies of their books, and I’m looking forward to reading more of these when they are finally released over the next year. The blog offers some great insights into the authors, so I would head on over there and check them out before you miss something.

Looking for another list of even more books to read in the next year? The website for the Class of 2k11 is up and running! Class of 2k11 is “a group of 19 debut middle grade and young adult authors working as a team to promote our books and reading in general. As our novels make their way into the world throughout 2011, this website will keep you up on our activities and bring you along on what’s sure to be a wild ride.” They are also giving away books from the Class of 2k10 authors, so head over and check it out, as sign up for the contest ends December 11th.

While we’re recognizing the new authors in the world, we should also step back and recognize an author who has been around for longer than I realized. In the news you might have missed, if you’re like me, Jane Yolen has written over 300 books. The Huffington Post did a flattering write-up about her, which I found via a link on Tanita Davis’s website. I met Ms. Davis while at the YALSA Coffee Klatch at ALA, and the next time I meet her I am going to have to have her finish the story she started at our table, because she had to leave before she finished. She was the nicest person, and was willing to pose for my camera with her Coretta Scott King Honor book, Mare’s War, which is on my list but has not made it to the top yet. I stress yet, I will get there… eventually.

If you’re like me and haven’t written one book yet, much less 300, then it’s not to late to join in with National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November and has been going strong and gaining supporters for the last eleven (?) years. If you don’t feel that you can write 50,000 words, then set an easier goal for yourself, and go for it. You’ll never know what will come out of it. Just be patient if the site is a little slow. I’m always reminded of Star Trek and that famous cry to Mr. Scott; “We need more power!”

And so ends another Sunday Shout Out. Feel free to let me know what you think about any of my thoughts or links by leaving a comment.