Letters to the Editor
Let me expand the unfortunate abridgment of my remarks in the Oct. 6 story, "No Direction, No Accountability: Why the Inservice System Breaks Down."
Schools, colleges, and departments of education are confronted with a dilemma with regard to providing inservice education because of the difficulty in attracting enough enrollees to make such programs cost-effective. It might be natural to think that this difficulty would tempt education schools to offer attractive programs that are superficial and poor in quality in order to attract enough students, but, by far, most education schools and departments reject this option.
The vast majority of the schools adhere to standards far above those required for specialized accreditation. The commitment to superior quality in all course offerings is overwhelmingly the rule.
The education schools and departments that form the Association of Colleges for Teacher Education decry the small number of nonaccredited ''factories" that produce large numbers of poor-quality inservice classes, many of which employ local school-system employees as instructors. There are other institutions that don't offer courses at all (as in the Los Angeles fraud case) and should be put out of business.
We recognize that abuses occur, but to make the generalization that these are common practices is to do a great disservice to the teacher-education profession and to gravely mislead those who are not familiar with education schools' commitment to excellence.
David G. Imig Executive Director American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Washington, D.C.
I am writing in reference to your article, "No Direction, No Accountability: Why the Inservice System Breaks Down" (Oct. 6, 1982).
The reference to the District of Columbia's teacher center--"and while the District of Columbia school system this fall, through its teacher center, will grant recertification credits for such courses as 'Reading Across the Content Areas,' it will also award credits for 'Sewing Techniques for Men and Women"'--was inappropriate and implied that certain courses are unsophisticated or insignificant.
If you know anything about course offerings, you must realize that home-economics teachers must also receive credits in their area of concentration. Why not offer sewing since teachers are required to teach sewing to students enrolled in home-economics classes? What courses do you propose for home-economics teachers? If other teachers elect to take home economics or other courses offered at the Teacher Center, it is perfectly permissible because all courses are open to all teachers.
The correct title of the course alluded to in the same article on page 14 is "Reading in the Content Area for the Middle School and Secondary Teacher." All teachers are teachers of reading.
It amazes me that you would make a negative report on educators as we apply creativity and innovation in acquiring new techniques and methods to be utilized in stimulating interest in the classroom. If your intent had been good, you would have mentioned the seven course offerings included in the Teacher Center brochure of fall courses.
Teachers in the District of Columbia are proud of their school system and believe that we are not second to any school district in the United States. Our staff development provides the continuity and ingredients that are needed for continued professionalism, and it promotes better classroom performance.
Jimmie D. Jackson Teacher and Director District of Columbia Teacher Center Washington, D.C.
Education Week recently reported on the conversion of school buses to propane fuel ("Propane Fuel Saves S.C. School Districts $6,000 in Bus Costs," Sept. 15, 1982). I thought you would be interested to know that the Oak Ridge Schools in Tennessee are in the process of converting buses to compressed natural gas (cng).
After successful experiments last year, the school board voted this summer to convert the school fleet in two stages and to share in the cost of a fueling station with our local utility district.
All converted buses will be equipped with dual fuel systems, gasoline and cng, because cng does not provide the pickup needed on the steep hills that dot Oak Ridge. However, the ability to switch smoothly from one fueling system to the other in transit and the savings in fuel costs outweigh this negative consideration.
Our local school system expects to have all conversion and station costs paid within five years and to be operating at a considerable savings, even with projected increases in cost of cng
Shirley Hendrix Treasurer Oak Ridge Board of Education Oak Ridge, Tenn.
What exactly is staff development?
Is it our efforts to help an individual teacher see possibilities for growth and reach out to grasp what is seen, multiplied by the number of teachers in a school?
Or, is staff development our efforts to change teachers by helping them adopt a style or technique that someone has decided is best?
If staff development is the latter, then perhaps we can all see why it seldom works very well. ["America's Teachers: The Need for Renewal," a three-part series, appeared in the Sept. 29, Oct. 6, and Oct. 13 issues of Education Week.]
Who knows what is best for me but me? I am unique. Asking me to conform to the products of another's insights, knowledge, and values is asking for something that never was or will be.
If staff development is the former, then I suggest that we need a new term to describe the nature of our mission. Staffs are not developed. Individual teachers grow, and they can use every bit of our help in doing so!
The teacher helper's mission also becomes clearer: to help an individual teacher sort through new possibilities, then help that teacher realize those he or she selects.
Richard A. Mecagni Assistant Professor Military Programs, Vocational- Education Studies Southern Illinois University at Carbondale Carbondale, Ill.