Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

‘Flawed Assumptions’ and Skilled, Creative Teachers

January 19, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Thomas Hatch’s Commentary “Four Flawed Assumptions of School Reform” (Dec. 9, 2009), which challenged commonly held beliefs that policymakers often use to help guide schools, was well done. His recommendations for improving our education system, however, failed to include the importance of highly skilled and motivated teachers, an essential element in the opinion of many education researchers and this writer’s own experience.

Having observed and evaluated thousands of teachers over my 42-year career in education, I can attest to the fact that no other factor outweighs the influence that a teacher can have on student achievement. I have worked in school districts that had poor facilities and limited resources and watched as creative teachers overcame those barriers with skill, passion, and resourcefulness.

Early in my career, I taught at the elementary and middle school levels for seven years prior to becoming a school administrator. At that time, I perceived myself as being a very good teacher. Yet spending the vast majority of the ensuing years as an administrator and observing some master teachers has given me the insight that my own teaching skills were lacking. Seeing a master teacher work with students is like watching a conductor direct musicians.

Mr. Hatch missed this essential element for reforming education. Attract talented, passionate, creative, hardworking teachers and create an environment that allows them to challenge their students to reach their learning potential. Give teachers respect and show them that they are appreciated and valued. Create a climate that allows them to hone their skills and supports their failures as well as their successes. Great teachers are the essential underpinning of school reform.

Policymaking for education has been relegated to people outside the field, many of whom lack the firsthand experience, knowledge, and ability to provide direction to the highly complex task of educating a child.

James M. Sheerin

Monroe, N.J.

A version of this article appeared in the January 20, 2010 edition of Education Week as ‘Flawed Assumptions’ and Skilled, Creative Teachers

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Education Insights with Actionable Data to Create More Personalized Engagement
The world has changed during this time of pandemic learning, and there is a new challenge faced in education regarding how we effectively utilize the data now available to educators and leaders. In this session
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Accelerate Learning with Project-Based Learning
Earlier this year, the George Lucas Educational Foundation released four new studies highlighting how project-based learning (PBL) helps accelerate student learning—across age groups, multiple disciplines, and different socio-economic statuses. With this year’s emphasis on unfinished
Content provided by SmartLab Learning
School & District Management Live Online Discussion Principal Overload: How to Manage Anxiety, Stress, and Tough Decisions
According to recent surveys, more than 40 percent of principals are considering leaving their jobs. With the pandemic, running a school building has become even more complicated, and principals' workloads continue to grow. If we

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education California Makes Ethnic Studies a High School Requirement
California is among the first in the nation to require students to take a course in ethnic studies to get a diploma starting in 2029-30.
4 min read
FILE - In this Jan. 22, 2020, file photo, Democratic Assembly members, from left, James Ramos, Chris Holden Jose Medina, and Rudy Salas, Jr., right, huddle during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. Medina's bill to make ethnic studies a high school requirement was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
Education California Requires Free Menstrual Products in Public Schools
The move comes as women’s rights advocates push nationwide for affordable access to pads, tampons, and other items.
1 min read
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Tammy Compton restocks tampons at Compton's Market, in Sacramento, Calif., on June 22, 2016. California public schools and colleges must stock their restrooms with free menstrual products under a new law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Friday, Oct. 8, 2021.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP
Education Florida to Dock School District Salaries for Requiring Masks
Florida is set to dock salaries and withhold funding from local school districts that defied Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on mask mandates.
2 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Education More Than 120,000 U.S. Kids Had Caregivers Die During Pandemic
The toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans, a new study suggests.
3 min read
FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021 file photo, a funeral director arranges flowers on a casket before a service in Tampa, Fla. According to a study published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, by the medical journal Pediatrics, the number of U.S. children orphaned during the COVID-19 pandemic may be larger than previously estimated, and the toll has been far greater among Black and Hispanic Americans. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)