Education Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

December 01, 1989 3 min read

I can understand the negative feelings of the first-year teacher from Iowa who is not receiving support from her administrators [“Voices,” September/ October 1989]. However, I cannot understand her totally negative attitude toward teaching. This is my fourth year as a special education teacher of learning-disabled students. I have had my share of frustration, many of which have revolved around administration.

My kids are what keep me going each one, past and present, is special and needs everything I have to offer. That is why I teach. That is the point.

Jennifer Bonnet
Special Education Teacher
Littleton, Me.

I am not generally moved to writing to editors but Elizabeth Kean’s article [“Left Behind,’' September/October 1989] leaves me no choice.

With all the wonderful things we do for children, did you have to start your magazine with so negative an article? We get attacked every day on all fronts. Do we have to be attacked in our own magazine?

Peter Olenick
Principal, Lancaster Primary School
Lancaster, Va.

It was a pleasure to read your story about special teachers and their accomplished students [“A Lasting Influence,’' September/October 1989]. Here at the University of WisconsinMilwaukee, the school of education has been staging a very popular dinner program for the past four years that we call the Gala Tribute to Teaching. We invite five or six well-known people and the Milwaukee-area teachers who played special roles in their lives to take part. The audience of teachers, education students, and community leaders has grown from 150 the first year to 400 this past year. We also use the occasion to announce the school’s scholarship winners and pay special tribute to the hundreds of metropolitan Milwaukee teachers who work with our student teachers. The cooperating teachers are invited to attend as our guests.

It cannot be said too often-- teachers make a difference and their influence is lasting. Congratulations on your fine work.

Diane Ulmer
Assistant to the Dean
School of Education
University of Wisconsin

I read the excerpt from Joe Clark’s book, Laying Down the Law [“Browsing,’' September/October 1989], with considerable disgust--but for reasons that, I am afraid, Joe Clark would neither understand nor appreciate. In describing his encounter with that “tenure-seeking dolt’’ of a teacher who he fired because she did not know the definition of “alacrity,’' Clark quotes himself: “This is an outrage. You are not a teacher! No one can teach what they [sic] do not know. You are a disgrace.’'

I would hope that before taking such a responsible position, a powerloving dolt of a principal would learn his grammar.

Arthur Brown
Professor, College of Education
Wayne State University

Paul Burke’s “math you can use’’ proposal [“How Much Math Is Enough?’' September/October 1989] seems to me to say that we should all learn as much mathematics as possible, since people tend to use more if they learn more.

William Raspberry felt that way himself in 1985 when he wrote, “More important, though, is the fact that a solid grounding in math and science is a prerequisite for a growing number of careers....Too many young people, including a disproportionate number of women and minorities, discover too late that their career options are circumscribed because they took only the required math and science courses in high school....For those who haven’t yet decided on their careers, whose career fields very likely don’t even exist yet, the tougher math and science courses help them keep their options open.’'

We need to be careful not to make too much of short-term ideas that tend to dampen enthusiasm for a subject area like mathematics over a longer term.

Kathleen Holman
Public Information Officer
Joint Policy Board for Mathematics
Washington, D.C.

To be truly accepted as professionals, it is essential that we, the teachers, be actively involved in the decisionmaking processes. To be involved means we need to be aware of the issues facing education of today. It is not that we don’t want to be involved, it has been more a matter of finding time to educate ourselves in all the current events.

Melinda Comer
Special Education Teacher
Patrick County High School
Stuart, Va.

A version of this article appeared in the December 01, 1989 edition of Teacher as Letters to the Editor