Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
The series, "America's Teachers: The Need for Renewal" (Education Week, Sept. 29, Oct. 6, and Oct. 13), touches on a critical issue in education. I hope this initial unbiased overview will prompt serious efforts toward designing appropriate programs to meet the need for the revitalization of the nation's education system.
Your first article discussed "the common practice among states and school boards of linking salary increases and certification to course credits," thereby forcing teachers to take courses "they do not like and from which they say they rarely benefit." This is followed by your observation that union leaders are "quick to point out [that] those most affected by staff-development programs ... have little or no control over them."
There is nothing that union officials would like more than to "have control over" this essential aspect of teacher training. And the thought of that should send shock waves through every citizen in the country.
Teacher-union officials, emboldened by monopoly-bargaining powers and sustained in large part by compulsory union dues, are bent on controlling "who enters, who stays, and who leaves the profession," in the words of nea-union president George Fischer in 1971. How better to meet this goal than to control the certification process?
A chilling case in point is the situation discussed in your second article in the Mahtomedi school district in Minnesota. Teacher unionists there devised a system whereby they are rewarded for going on strike and can be reimbursed for denying their 1,600 students for 33 days of education!
The Mahtomedi's "continuing-education program" calls for the earning of 120 units every five years as part of teacher-recertification requirements--not an unusual situation. The Mahtomedi continuing-education committee, however, is composed of five teachers, one administrator, and one non-teaching citizen of the school district.
According to the August 16, 1982, Government Employee Relations Report, the teachers of this southeastern Minnesota rural district "can earn one continuing education credit for each of the 33 days teachers were on strike last school year."
Mahtomedi Education Association President Ken Stevens, in a masterpiece of understatement, noted that strike credit is a "controversial concept," but insisted that the strike was a "learning experience."
Your article begins with an example of "academic fraud" that most of your readers will accept as an anomaly, but the Mahtomedi turn of events provides a frightening look into the distortion of an ideal by unscrupulous manipulation.
Unfortunately, this is not an anomaly. Monopoly-bargaining control by union officials is part of the real world and should cause school-board members and administrators across the country to re-think the question, "Who is in charge here?"
Susan E. Staub Director Concerned Educators Against Forced Unionism Springfield, Va.
To the Editor:
According to Daniel S. Greenberg ("The Turnaround in sat Scores Gives Slight Reason to Cheer," Commentary, Oct. 6, 1982), "... the dominant message from the sat's is that, even with the latest gains in scores, today's students are performing nowhere near the levels of their counterparts of the 1960's and 1970's."
In the fall 1982 issue of the National Assessment of Educational Progress Newsletter, Ralph W. Tyler stated that data from the sat scores are often misinterpreted. Although the average sat verbal score has dropped 30 points over the last 10 years, "... this figure was derived from raw scores that dropped an average of just 2 to 4 points," according to Mr. Tyler.
Could it be that Mr. Greenberg is one of the many headline seekers who have misinterpreted the sat data?
Robert D. Gibbons Professor of Education Longwood College Farmville, Va.
To the Editor:
A correction in your article, "Education-Related Issues on State Ballots This Fall" (Oct. 27, 1982): The Republican candidate for governor of Georgia is not Robert Bayle, but rather Bob Bell. You must have gotten your information on the phone from someone with an acute Southern accent, i.e., "The Republican candidate's name is Rob-aht Bay-yel.''
David G. Gantt Assistant Librarian Macon Junior College Macon, Ga.