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Published in Print: September 18, 1991, as Letters To The Editor

Letters To The Editor

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To the Editor:

In regards to the Commentary by Arthur E. Wise and Linda DarlingHammond, "Alternative Certification Is an Oxymoron" (Commentary, Sept. 4, 1991): Any school administrater who has struggled with state licensing agencies will attest to the oxymoron inherent in the phrase "responsible teacher licensing."

My experience as an administrator of a large non-public school system gave me clear indication of extreme bias: . for public-school systems; . for state institutions of teacher preparation. Bias was demonstrated:

against non-public (sectarian) schools;

against private colleges, especially those located out of state, which prepare teachers.

Teacher accreditation/licensing is clearly another paper monster waiting to be pushed over if true educational opportunities are to be made available to all families.

Genevieve A. Schillo
Superflor, Wisc.

To the Editor:

Please spare your readers anymore retro-60's articles such as the excerpt from Jonathan Kozol featured in the photographic spread "Outside the Dream" (Commentary, July 31, 1991). The whimpering, whining rhetoric, "Don't blame me I'm just a victim" is outdated.

The facts are that Brian can choose to get out of his Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia, Eleanor chose to have two babies by the time she was 16, Delfin chose to use heroin and te murder someone.

The election of Reagan and now Bush proves that American taxpayers are sick of their hard-earned dollars being poured into cities with few or no results. It is fiction that simply shoveling money into inner cities will provide any long-lasting results.

Judge Clarence Thomas and General Colin Powell demonstrate that it is possible to overcome undesirable environments.

When Jonathan Kozol is ready to specify which self-help programs are effective then he will have credibility.

Steven Koatz
Paoli, Pa.

To the Editor:

As a Cycle III Teacher Corps (1968-69) member, I read with great interest your July 31, 1991, article on Teach For America. ('@Yeach For America: Salvation or 'Disservice'?") I can remember my own combination of idealism and lack of preparation I brought to my first classroom in the all-black segregated schools of Greene County, Ala.

The preparation improved greatly over the years; the idealism, I trust still exists. Certainly fellow Teacher Corps members and I did not either reform our school systems then or even do the best job we could have as teachers. It was a learuing process for us and one from which hundreds of students have since benefited.

The Teacher Corps, like T.F.A, brought idealistic and academically prepared people into the classrooms. Twenty-plus years later, having supervised over 30 teachers, I know that an undergraduate teaching degree is no substitute for academic training. Too many of the elementary-education graduates have no love of learning, no excitement or curiosity about an academic discipline. Their students suffer.

Now, as a principal, I still look for a "spark" or special quality or background in a prospective teacher. In education, we can help teachers improve their skills and bring them up to date on research and practice.

We can't give them idealism and willingness to work--individuals with those self-select into T.@.A. as they did the Teacher Corps a generation before.

Court Bell
Principal
San Juan Island School
Districl No. 149
Friday Harbour, Wash.

To the Editor:

In President Bush's quest to develop New American Schools, he must be careful not te throw out everything and reinvent the wheel. He should embellish and further implement what has proven effective over time, while adding ideas with creative potential.

Recently, while attending a program called "Education in Our 50 States," I began to wonder whether there were not 50 ways to help the President. After some thought, I was able to come up with the following list of 50 ideas. They are culled from 31 years of experience as an elementary teacher, principal, curriculum developer, author of a handwriting system, and parent of six children.

The@e 50 educational "points of light" are not ranked in order of impertance but should be viewed as one multi-directional plan for promoting reform:

1. Develop children's self worth as the key to success.

2. Ensure that school staffs actively participate each year in research studies. 3. Cut down on testing.

4. Begin teaching metrics in the ist grade.

5. Require music, art, and physical education.

6. Require abacus usage from grade 1 through grade 6.

7. Change illogical spelling patterns.

8. Work to develop a phonetic alphabet.

9. Stop comparing public schools with private and foreign schools.

10. Eliminate students' riding more than 45 minutes on a school bus.

11. Require the fullest computer education.

12. Put teeth into local discipline objectives.

13. Recognize that public schools can't "save" every child.

14. Require recycling knowledge and environmental awareness.

15. Stress sports and leisure activities that have carry-over usage after graduation.

16. Develop more "hands on" learning experiences.

17. Change grading concepts from A, B, C, D's to "is progressing" or "is not progressing."

18. Raise teachers' salaries nationwide to respectable levels, along with instituting merit pay for school personnel. 19. Restructure for year-round schools--but keeping open a fourweek summer vacation block.

20. More high-school counselors to lower elementary levels.

21. Require home economics for both boys and girls.

22. Require electricity, woodshop, and small-motor-repair classes for both girls and boys.

23. Establish a six-year highschool program. The last two years would be centered around a workstudy program for all students. 24. In high school, develop a buddy system pairing a first-year student with a senior student.

25. Develop team teaching with racially mixed teacher teams.

26. Have the high-school curriculum require four years of study in English, mathematics, science, sociology, economics, and philosophy.

27. Require a three- to four-year study of another language, kindergarten through senior high.

28. Assign minimum homework as needed.

29. Endeavor to get more books into lower economic homes.

30. Assign elementary students to teacher teams for blocks of learning over a several-year period.

31. Attempt to eliminate fear of failing through teaching the trialand-error method.

32. Master handwriting skills.

33. Move teachers up and down grade levels for one year every sixth year; lower-elementary teachers move to junior or senior high, and upper-level teachers move down to the elementary grades.

34. Have all administrators teach in a classroom for 10 percent of their time.

35. Recognize that all students are individuals who learn at different rates, times, and with different capacities.

36. Have teachers and parents set goals, working toward developing positive feelings and attitudes within children.

37. Establish a home-room "family" concept in junior and senior high schools.

38. Make sure that all school personnel and parents understand that when children are motivated and interested they will learn.

39. Involve parents more in school functioning. 40. Delegate more power to individual schools--not to their central office. 41. Mandatory recess time.

42. Establish Montessori teaching principles for kindergarten and preschool experiences.

43. Do not start formal handwriting and reading until grade 1, unless child is absolutely ready.

44. Don't compare one child to another.

45. Restructure the teaching of mathematics from its present sequential grade order to a system in which sequential blocks of material are to be mastered before moving to higher blocks.

46. Recognize that all children will learn to their fullest ability when they are ready.

47. Reduce the material in most textbooks so that it centers around concepts rather than busywork.

48. Develop a flexible curriculum to enhance a child's motivation and interest.

49. Make field trips a part of every curriculum process.

50. Put more teaching emphasis on small-group problem solving.

Donald N. Thurber
LaSalle, Mich.

Vol. 11, Issue 03, Page 1

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