Letters to the Editor
Thank you for the article on John Chubb and Terry Moe. The administrators I have talked with have a standard reaction to the kind of change proposed by Chubb and Moe. They fear it will bring outside forces into the school to take their hardearned jobs out of their hands. But I see it differently.
When the changes in schools suggested by Chubb come to pass, the administrators can be the first in line to apply for a school license. With their experience in school service and their applied leadership background, school administrators are the most likely people to find the backing of the community for investing time, money, and people in the business of schools.
There is a real problem in the Chubb plan. For teachers and administrators who depend on public school pension and retirement plans, a new system of school management and ownership could be unsettling. I would like to have an organization set up that would offer a medical and retirement program for the teaching and administrative professions that would transcend the bounds of schools, districts, counties, or states. Allow education professionals to feel secure in making decisions, knowing that their families are protected by an adequate insurance and retirement program.
Michael Herbert Boone, N.C.
I am extremely impressed with Pittsburgh's Prospect 3-M Center ["A Prescription For Harmony,'' June/July]. A district that is making a conscious choice to become an innovative and exciting environment for young minds to grow as tolerant individuals revitalizes my desire to teach! As an educator, I welcome the opportunity to express my ideals in a forum that is conducive to racial harmony and cultural tolerance. Cheers to Pittsburgh!
Kim Karaly Class of '90 Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio
I have just finished reading your August issue, cover to cover. The amazement I felt on receiving your first issue continues. Yours is the only teachers' magazine to address the real concerns, problems, and conditions of teaching. Other teachers' magazines are still giving us 10 cute ideas for next month's bulletin board.
I was especially encouraged that you began to address some of the problems of moonlighters ["Making Ends Meet'']. I challenge you to tackle a related problem: Social Security benefits for retiring teachers who have not paid Social Security taxes on their teaching salaries but have paid it on their moonlighting income. I have taught for 27 years in three states and now teach in a California public school. I am single and thus do not qualify for a spouse's Social Security. I have been paying into Social Security since I got my first job at 16, and I have been working a second job in addition to teaching for many years. I pay Social Security taxes on my second job earnings, which are typically $2,000 to $6,000 annually. The information I have been given is that the Reagan administration passed an "anti-windfall provision,'' prohibiting those who receive government pensions from collecting Social Security. Those of us teachers who have moonlighted seem to be included. Thus, we continue to be forced to work second jobs but are now prohibited from collecting benefits we have paid for, and we continue to be required to pay for benefits we can never collect. If I quit teaching now and work in the business world until retirement, I will still be prohibited from collecting Social Security if I try to keep my teachers' pension benefits.
Please address this issue. It is of utmost concern to many single women. Many young people entering the profession who moonlight to pay off loans or buy a house are also shocked at this unfair situation.
Phyllis Burch Richmond, Calif.
Editor's Note: According to the Social Security Administration, you can collect money from both a government pension and Social Security. The catch is that, if you have both, the government uses a different formula to calculate your Social Security benefits. You will receive a smaller Social Security check than you would if you did not have a second pension. For more information, call the Social Security Administration at (800) 234-5772, and ask for their fact sheet, "A Pension From Work Not Covered By Social Security.''
I enjoyed reading your April issue and especially enjoyed the balance between personal accounts of teaching experiences and the more objective discussion of professional issues.
As you know, a large number of teachers throughout the nation have language-minority students in their classrooms. I am on the executive board of Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Inc., which serves as a valuable resource for these teachers. I hope your magazine will include TESOL in future articles on the problems of limited-English proficient students. TESOL is located at 1600 Cameron St., Suite 300, Alexandria, VA, 22314-2705; (703) 836-0774.
Else Hamayan Director of Training and Services Illinois Resource Center Des Plaines, Ill.
In reference to the recent memorable memo on bathroom passes ["Bulletin Board,'' August], please don't dismiss out of hand the idea of a bathroom checkout system. Over the last 10 years, I have developed a system of classroom organization for teachers. One of its goals is to reduce the number of tugs on the teacher's sleeve during the day and help kids take pride in and responsibility for their classroom and its routines. A bathroom checkout system does the above and has several other benefits. Students can leave the room without being embarrassed by having to ask. Teachers are freed from the 20 or more requests per day to leave the room. And principals can check on who was in the restroom at times when problems occurred. If your objection to bathroom checkout systems is that they are imposed from the top down, I agree. Such systems should be optional for teachers. But please consider the benefits of such a system to teachers, students, and the administration.
Randa Alford Getting It All Together Workshops Wooster, Ohio
As a college educator who trains future teachers in urban public schools and as an advocate for children, I must object to the tone of your article comparing a public and private school teacher ["A Tale Of Two Teachers,'' August]. I am dismayed at the article's implication that the difference in the quality of students is central to public and private school disparities. I believe there is considerable "classism'' in this position, and it is insulting to the 90 percent of American children who still attend public schools.
It is true that many public school students do not enjoy optimal conditions in all aspects of their lives. However, the ethical foundation of the teaching profession is respect for all children and an unwavering commitment to the right of every child to equal educational opportunity.
Because the article embodies a negative tone toward public school students who have problems, it is very difficult for me to accept your editor's connection between it and the larger issue of public school choice ["The Marketplace Of Ideas'']. If teachers are leaving public school teaching to escape from the children who need excellent teachers the most, who in the future will choose to educate problem children in a national system of educational choice? Now, more than ever, we need a system of public education that chooses to provide the very best to every child in every possible circumstance. Beatrice Fennimore Indiana University of Pennsylvania Indiana, Pa. I found your story comparing a private and a public school teacher to be very interesting. Both of these young teachers appear to be the kind any school would be proud to claim. I was struck by one thought as I read about Colorado Academy, the private school: It is scarcely representative of schools throughout the nation. I have spent a 40-year career in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Illinois, and South Dakota. There are only a handful of such schools in these states. Private schools in the Midwest tend to be much more like the public school you described. I hope your readers are aware that the Colorado Academies of this world are available only to a very select percentage of our nation's population.
John Harris Superintendent of Schools Sioux Falls, S.D.
After reading your article on the two Colorado teachers, I felt the need to correct the impression given that teaching in a private school means smaller classes, a longer lunch break, no students with behavioral or academic problems, and pay comparable to that of public school teachers. This year, I have 28 students in my class; I have had as many as 32. My lunch break is 25 minutes long, except on the one or two days I have playground duty. Then I have 15 minutes for lunch. In my 15 years of teaching, I have seen many students with behavioral and academic problems. But instead of removing them from school, we work with the parents and the student in order to help them. As for salary, I am currently making 51 percent of what my counterpart in the local public school is making.
I teach in a private school because I choose to. We have a dedicated staff, hard-working students, and supportive families. I believe strongly in the quality education we are providing to our students.
Jeanne Skree St. John Vianney School South St. Paul, Minn.
While I enjoyed reading your story on the private and public school teacher, I noticed a reference to a story by Eudora Welty titled "Warm Path.'' Don't you mean "A Warn Path''?
Robert Erickson Phoenix, Ariz.
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