Letters To The Editor
In spite of his anti-teacher speeches, it is hard not to feel a little sorry for U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett after reading "Combative Bennett Charges Into Final Year" (Sept. 16, 1987). He came to his job filled with zeal to set education aright in America, and you can't fault him for that.
It is unfortunate that he arrived with the wrong attitude, had precious little concept of what needed to be done, surrounded himself with the wrong people, and didn't grow in the job.
Now, having failed to unite the nation behind a positive course of action to improve education, he apparently intends to pursue the most hostile, punitive course available.
Before we allow him to push the rest of us into hostilities, shouldn't we ask ourselves if such behavior is in America's best interests?
Heaven knows the National Education Association is not without its faults. At times I have thought that facts and common sense just seemed to confuse them. Nevertheless, with the help of their enemies they hold the loyalty of their teachers and do a pretty good job for them.
The nea's faults aside, Mr. Bennett's attacks aren't getting us anywhere. Who cares whether or not he likes the nea? Certainly not big business; it wants results. Certainly not parents; they want better schools. Certainly not teachers; they hardly have time to notice him.
Instead of kicking teachers, Mr. Bennett might better recognize that we are dealing with a nation that has only a modest commitment to dedicated, self-sacrificing scholarship.
No matter what ideology one embraces, it should be obvious that Americans are not going to commit themselves to better education when the major actors can do nothing better than fight each other.
Some hard-to-swallow ideas are going to have to be tested and a lot of statesmanship is going to have to be demonstrated, or we might as well go home and forget the whole business of school reform.
Fred Gibson Teacher Coachella Valley Unified School District Thermal, Calif.
What is U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett doing in Nicaragua ("Bennett Addresses a Message To Managua," Sept. 23, 1987)? Running for political office? I wonder.
Joseph Dalpiaz Principal Hinsdale South High School Darien, Ill.
I was pleased to read Willis Hawley's Commentary of Sept. 16. "Preparing Teachers: A Tale of 2 Nations" addresses a concern of many of us in public education. I am glad that this concern is also apparent to those in higher education.
Mr. Hawley has clearly identified the most obvious inconsistency in higher education's proposals for improving the quality and quantity of new teachers. To suggest that requirements for additional preservice training will increase the supply of candidates is a logical inconsistency. And the notion that increased college coursework is the best avenue for improving the competence of new teachers is not supported by the experiences of those in the schools.
Mr. Hawley's suggestions to cut the cost of entering the profession, to require rigorous pre-entry interviews and tests, to establish salaries that reflect the importance of teaching, to provide funding for continuing professional development, and to encourage leadership roles for teachers are congruent with the stated goals of improving the quality and quantity of new teachers.
Thank you, Mr. Hawley, for your Commentary. I hope that your peers are listening--and that they begin to listen more to public-school educators.
Michael L. Kiser Assistant Superintendent for Personnel Naperville Community School District 203 Naperville, Ill.
I am disappointed by a quote attributed to Barbara Clark in the Sept. 16 article "Brain Research Fuels Drive To Alter Teaching of the Gifted."
When referring to "whole brain" instruction, Ms. Clark implies that teachers are female by saying, "The teacher shares the learning and the excitement. She becomes more creative and can use her own personality."
Having spent more than 25 years teaching science and encouraging young women to study chemistry and physics, I feel that this kind of sexist remark is not appropriate for an educator to make. Perhaps Ms. Clark should move into the 20th century.
I hope that my gifted son will not think teaching is women's work.
Gordon K. Horgen Winner, S.D.