Letters to the Editor
W.B. Hamilton Jr. Principal Gilbert Park Elementary School Portland, Ore.
Your recent article, "Educators Seek Solutions to 'Crisis' in Teaching," (Education Week, March 2, 1983), states: "The purposes of the [Yale] meeting, conference participants said, were to begin to break down the 'tremendous prejudice against public-school teaching' that exists on many college campuses, ..."
At nearly the same time, the March 14, issue of U.S. News and World Report carried a cover designed to increase that tremendous prejudice. The picture of a teacher in a dunce cap with the headline "What's Wrong With Our Teachers?" was certainly not designed to enhance the public image of teachers or educators at any level. It was reminiscent of the cover of the June 16, 1980, issue of Time that proclaimed, "Teacher Can't Teach."
As a 33-year veteran in education, I know that the great majority of educators are highly competent and should resent the tremendous power of the press being used to paint all educators with the same brush. However, educators are so used to a negative press now that they hardly notice such attacks. They certainly feel powerless to do anything about them.
If those 40 college and university presidents and 30 chief state school officers who met at Yale would respond, either individually or collectively, to the editors of Time and U.S. News and World Report and express their dissatisfaction with the treatment given the education profession by the press, whatever solutions they come up with would have a greater chance for success.
Because I believe that both of the magazines mentioned have exhibited journalistic irresponsibility in their treatment of the education profession, I have responded with the comparatively small power I posess. I have cancelled subscriptions to both magazines.
Tom Mooney President Cincinnati Federation of Teachers Cincinnati, Ohio
Your recent article, "A Survey of Education Issues in the 50 States," (Education Week, Mar. 9, 1983) was extremely informative. However, the item in the Great Lakes section on Ohio concerning attempts to pass a collective-bargaining bill was incomplete and inaccurate. The article states that "the Ohio Education Association [oea] is trying again to enact a collective-bargaining bill--versions have been passed twice before but vetoed by former Gov. James A. Rhodes." It goes on to quote an oea spokesman.
In fact, no bill has yet been introduced, but one is expected this spring. The afl-cio, including the Ohio Federation of Teachers (oft), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, is a major force behind the bill. So is Governor Richard F. Celeste, who pledged to support such legislation during his campaign. Furthermore, the bill being prepared will cover all public employees, not just teachers and school employees.
It's true, as your article states, that collective bargaining among teachers in Ohio is well established in many districts. It is most advanced in Ohio's larger urban districts where oft locals and not oea affiliates are more often the bargaining representatives. oea locals represent only one of Ohio's five largest urban school districts.
Editor's note: Senate Bill 133, introduced on March 17 by Senator Eugene Branstool, is one of several collective-bargaining bills being contemplated this session and is supported by both the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the Ohio Education Association. Both Ronald Marec, president of the oft, and William R. Martin, director of communications for the oea, confirmed last week that the bill is largely the work of the afl-cio, with which the oft is affiliated. The Branstool bill would cover most public employees in the state. Governor Celeste, according to Mr. Martin, has told oea officials that he will sign the bill if both chambers of the legislature approve it.
Milly Cowles Dean The University of Alabama in Birmingham University College School of Education Birmingham, Ala.
Regarding your recent Commentary, "Should Schooling Begin and End Earlier?" (Education Week, March 16, 1983): It does not matter so much when children start school as it does whether the total school environment is adapted to the child's developmental levels. I have seen educational practices move farther and farther from that view.
Lawrence L. Hlavacek Executive Director
The Edward E. Ford Foundation Princeton, N.J.
In a recent copy of your publication you list grants from the Edward E. Ford Foundation for computer programs in schools. Grants made by this foundation go only to independent secondary schools (grades 9-12) holding active membership in the National Association of Independent Schools (nais). Public schools and other private schools not holding membership in nais are not eligible for consideration by our foundation.
Chester E. Finn Jr. Professor of Education and Public Policy Institute for Public Policy Studies Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tenn.
Regarding your effort in the "In the Press" section to summarize my article in Commentary magazine ("On the Politics and Power of the Teacher Unions," Education Week, March 16, 1983):
1.It was the February issue of that journal, not March, as reported.
2.At no point did I accuse the National Education Association (nea) of having "adopted policies that promote ... racism, anti-nationalism, and sympathy for Communism." Those are your words, and not very well-chosen ones at that. I did suggest that they nea condones racial quotas, that it has published (and directs its members to other organizations that have published) curricular materials that depict American society as inherently racist, and that it has adopted a "generally uncritical stance toward Moscow."
3.My observations about teacher-union partisanship were considerably more complicated than your effort to reduce them to a criticism of the American Federation of Teachers for "general unwillingness to vote for Republicans." I observed, rather, that because both unions are "firmly in the Democratic camp," they and their interests can be easily ignored by Republicans, which means that education itself is tending to be "labeled as a 'Democratic concern' rather than as an integral part of the culture and the society, which in turn will foster the further politicization along partisan lines of major educational policy decisions at the state and national level."
Editor's Note: On point number 1, Mr. Finn is correct; we regret the error. On points number 2 and 3, we suggest that interested readers judge for themselves by reading the full text of the author's 13-page article.