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Cleveland Mayor Should Not Control City's Schools

To the Editor:

Deteriorating neighborhoods, joblessness in the inner city, and community safety concerns are all issues that Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White has barely begun to address. To add to his responsibilities by giving him control of the Cleveland public school district, as proposed by two state lawmakers, is ludicrous ("Plan Gives Mayor Control Over Cleveland Schools," Oct. 9, 1996).

To many, cooperation and collaboration are not part of this pugnacious mayor's vocabulary, and his insulting comments concerning school employees and their unions hardly inspire the respect and trust that school-improvement efforts need.

In addition, Mr. White's top-down concept of school governance shows him to be lacking in modern management skills and knowledge of the education-reform movement, which stresses the empowerment of teachers in exchange for greater accountability.

If Mayor White says he would desire a consensus before taking control of Cleveland schools, then it is obvious he does not have that consensus now. Certain legislators not from Cleveland may want to give Mayor White the kind of control Mayor Richard M. Daley exercises in Chicago, but Mayor White is no Richard Daley.

Ronald E. Marec
President
Ohio Federation of Teachers
Cleveland, Ohio

Another Veteran Teacher Hindered by Certification

To the Editor:

The letter in your Oct. 2, 1996, edition from Alan Fraker of Deerfield really hit home ("Good Teachers Rejected: An Example From Indiana," Oct. 2, 1996). Last summer, after 18 years teaching in independent schools much like Deerfield, I decided to explore the realm of public education. Like Mr. Fraker's friend, I submitted credentials to the state of Illinois, only to find out that, despite 18 years of teaching experience, a master's degree, and all the requisite education courses and student teaching, I was deficient in two areas. As it was already February when I made my decision, the earliest I could have begun my coursework would have been during a summer session, much too late to apply for teaching positions for the fall. Thus, I was forced to commute weekly to the Detroit area to teach at another independent school.

However, before accepting the job in Michigan, I was a candidate for a position with the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, the state board of education's prestigious magnet school for gifted students. Interestingly, no certificate was required to teach at the IMSA, perhaps because of the school's desire to recruit high-powered but uncertified Ph.D.s for its staff. Obviously, state boards of education can manipulate their own regulations when it is to their benefit.

No one would suggest that there be no accountability for teachers or that certification be abolished. However, as Mr. Fraker suggests, when "a master teacher [must] sit at home" or move to another state as a result of bureaucratic inflexibility or hypocrisy, something is dreadfully wrong.

Michael G. Conroy
Baker Demonstration School
National-Louis University
Evanston, Ill.

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