Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD of Raleigh and Iran and an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, falls short when trying to write comedy. The well-known philanthropist whose last name is associated (in honor of his mother) with part of Memorial Auditorium (the name-flavor of the day is the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts) in Raleigh recently tried his hand at humor in a column printed by The News & Observer. He was not speaking for UNC.
Dr. Meymandi’s column Lost in a touchdown translation (Sat, Jan 31) was weak in wit and made a point the thoughful doctor probably didn’t realize he was making. In past columns, if understood properly, Dr. Meymandi has a quest, among many things, for higher salaries for teacher and usually likes to take from the rich to give to the poor instead of just getting the rich to donate at will as he does. He wants more public support for education instead of real education reform. Pay more; expect more; be disappointed more with results.
The column was supposedly a conversation between Dr. Meymandi and his sister as they watched a football game, the real American version not the ball-head-butting type that can just as easily cause a concussion as can the game with protective helmets. The conversation was during a National Football League game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Chicago Bears. Dr. Meymandi was trying to explain the game, but he was weak in doing so. At one point, according to his humorless written effort, his sister supposedly asked, “Is this a state-supported game?” (Did she ask because all games in Iran are state-supported?) His answer: “No, Sis, it is private enterprise at work.” Then, he mocked salaries of employees of those teams. Then, she supposedly asked about the salaries of high school and college teachers in the USA. Dr. Meymandi estimated between $19,000 and $30,000 which, he wrote, made her “visibly upset.”
It’s doubtful in the midst of a somewhat incoherent conversation between Dr. Meymandi and his sister, who was visiting from Iran, that teacher salaries came up, but, if so, he clearly made the point that private enterprise has more flexibility with pay scale. Salaries of high school teachers and college professors in private schools are usually higher than those in public schools. So, with that, the undertone of the column, the takeaway from Dr. Meymandi is this: High schools and colleges need to be private so the bad teachers can be dismissed and the good teachers can be rewarded with higher salaries, just like in the NFL, a private, not state-supported, game.
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