It is laudable for a teacher to never be absent, but it is important that a teacher be a person. I would guess that Alphonse Dattalo ("The Streak," August/September) either doesn't have kids or has put the responsibility of child raising entirely on his wife's shoulders. Who among us has not had to stay home with a sick child?
Being a good role model is important, but demonstrating that you are human is also important. Teachers are often parents, too, and should not be criticized, even indirectly, for taking care of family. I love my job; I have an excellent attendance rate, I don't take personal days to do shopping, and I work when not feeling 100 percent. But sometimes, other parts of my life come first.
Cape Coral, Florida
Gloria Matta Tuchman once more uses the media to misinform the public ("Hasta La Vista: January 1998," May/June), as she did during the Proposition 227 campaign against bilingual education in California. Let me set the record straight.
California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing certifies teachers; its universities, its state department of education, and the local school districts do not. Tuchman blames all these agencies for the chaotic implementation of Proposition 227, but the California State Board of Education has taken the legal position that 227 did not alter teacher certification and assignment requirements for the teaching of students whose dominant language is not English.
It is in the best interest of both the students and their teachers to make sure teachers have a vast array of tools to use in the education of children who have limited English skills. One size does not fit all when it comes to education.
Peanuts For Pay
"Exodus," (May/June) discusses the problem of high teacher turnover at low- paying Catholic schools. I have taught for two years at a Catholic school where teachers make an average of less than $10,000 a year. At the end of each year, the school goes through chaos because it loses many teachers who can't afford to live on such small salaries.
Catholic pastors and bishops may like the idea of church schools, but they are not committed to doing what it takes to maintain good schools. A school gets better with stability, and this is what many Catholic schools lack.
Back At The Plate
Thank you for updating the 1996 story about the parents who sued the Owasso, Oklahoma, school district to get better athletic facilities for their daughters ("Home Run: August 1996," May/June).
I have been engaged in a similar battle for the last two years. In the summer of 1998, I was contacted about coaching my school's new softball team. I agreed and was assured that there would be a place for us to play by the following spring. However, we just completed our second season without a field. I have contacted district officials, written letters, talked to parents, and had meetings with my principal. I am worn out from fighting.
Your article came just at a time when I needed inspiration to fight some more. Thanks for reminding me that it's the girls I am fighting for.
Castle Heights Middle School
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Congratulations on your second nomination for a National Magazine Award. Keep up the good work!
While I appreciate that you have gone to a heavier, whiter paper, I still plan on cracking open the champagne when you opt for the smaller, more traditional magazine format that you had a number of years ago. The fact that I reluctantly agreed to keep subscribing when you went to cheaper, newspaper-like stock was an incredible compliment to the quality of your publication. I don't do newspapers. I hate getting ink on my fingers, and it is difficult to Xerox articles to share with my students and colleagues when they are larger than the typical page size.
I wanted to write and thank you for the complimentary staff subscription that you so generously send to our school. As a second-year teacher, I encounter situations daily that run the gamut from challenging to outright frustrating. Your publication has never failed to provide interesting and often inspiring articles. Please encourage your writers and contributors to keep up the excellent work. I look forward to each issue.
Benson Elementary School
Down With Dewey
Progressive education ("Is Progressive Education Dead?," April), one of the vilest philosophies ever fostered on the American public, was the brainchild of a defunct educator named John Dewey, whose idea was to do away with the three R's, grades, and accountability. Progressive education is at best a failing socialistic agenda. The Jonathan Kozols and the Haim Ginotts of the world of education should pack it up and retire. Give me the old-time education. It is the only true path to success.
Donald Michael Curry
A Good Test
As a teacher returning to work part time, I was particularly interested in "Test Case," (March), concerning the lawsuit alleging that African American students in California are being denied adequate access to Advanced Placement courses. Non-white students have been routinely denied many of the privileges most of us have taken for granted too long. It is wonderful to learn that this practice is finally being challenged. It is something that we all need to work to rectify.
St. Cloud, Minnesota
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Vol. 12, Issue 2, Pages 6-7