Education Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

April 01, 1990 5 min read

Taking Them Home

I was amazed and gratified to read your article on teachers who took their students home to live with them. [“The Ultimate Homework,” February 1990]. My son was once my kindergarten student. Nine years ago I took him home, and a year later I adopted him. It was like reading my own story. Every negative thing that happened to the teachers in your article has happened to me. By the same token, I’ve experienced everything positive, too. I had no idea what I was taking on. I have never known anyone else who took this drastic step. Even after all this time, I flounder occasionally. Your article lent me support and insight. Thank you.

Kathleen Casey
Rogers Elementary School

Teaching Idioms

Mick Fedullo has not done all his homework [“Expressions Of Discontent,’' January 1990]. I teach hearing-impaired and deaf children, and had exactly the same experience Fedullo had regarding idioms. For the last nine years, I’ve been using a set of books published by Dormac Inc. in San Diego--It’s Raining Cats and Dogs, Hold Your Horses, Sticky Fingers, and others. They present one idiom at a time in the context of a short story, followed by exercises and vocabulary.

I’m sure that Fedullo’s Spilling the Beans will be a valuable resource. But Fedullo and his colleagues don’t have to wait until 1991 to teach idioms in an enjoyable, meaningful way.

Diantha Zibman
Ethan Allen School

Dannemeyer’s Fantasy

It is unclear whether you endorse Dannemeyer’s half-truths and hyperbole [“Potshots,” February 1990] or if you intend to hold him up to ridicule. In either case, such bigotry is totally inappropriate in a magazine dedicated to helping teachers to better educate our multicultural population. At least 10 percent of the population is gay, a figure that includes 10 percent of every teacher’s students. Invisibility or continuous harassment are the options gay youths have because of people like Rep. Dannemeyer. Lies about gay people only promote further misunderstanding, discrimination, ridicule, and violence toward gays. It is time to treat us with truth and honesty.

If your intent was to endorse Dannemeyer’s views, cancel my subscription immediately. I do not wish to support any forum for bigotry.

Ronald Madson
Steering Committee
New York City
Gay Teachers’ Association

Editor’s Note: On the premise that one ought to know one’s critics, we include in “Potshots” comments (usually by prominent figures) that we think are exaggerated, unfair, or antagonistic toward teachers and schools. We certainly don’t endorse Rep. Dannemeyer’s statement or any of the comments that appear in “Potshots.”

The quote from Rep. Dannemeyer reveals him for what he is: a man so filled with unreasoning hate that he can’t separate facts from fantasy. His claim that schools have instituted mandatory instruction in homosexual acts impresses nobody knowledgeable about public education. Up to 30 percent of youth suicides are committed by gay youths, a comment on the pervasive homophobia in our society and in our public schools. Lesbian and gay young people can’t learn in schools that allow name calling, harassment, and violent attacks.

Dan Stephen
Member, Educators for
Lesbian/Gay Concerns

Lost Connections

Barry Lopez [“Losing Our Sense Of Place,” February 1990] gracefully evokes a sense of lost connections, a quietly powerful warning that goes beyond geography and touches the exposed nerves of a society increasingly confused and frustrated by fragmentations. We need to redevelop an intimacy between ourselves and the land, to reestablish our close knowledge of the places we inhabit. Perhaps, starting there, we can go further and somehow recover some of what we have lost or forgotten about ourselves as well. More than simply strengthening our teaching of geography, we must rebuild our bond to the land; we must let the landscape teach us its urgent lessons.

Stephen L. Fischer
Wausau, Wis.

Blue Collar Bashing

I was interested to note consultant Stephen Mitchell’s claim [“Who’s In Charge Here?” February 1990] that rural teachers have a “blue collar mentality” and are unwilling to work beyond normal school hours. It’s surprising that someone as keen as a consultant could manage to demean two groups with one statement. Until Mitchell and others who hope to facilitate change speak respectfully of diverse cultural groups, whether blue collar workers, rural teachers, or suburbanites, it will be difficult to take their recommendations seriously. Or maybe he’s right, and those cars I see in our parking lot at 7:30 A.M. and 5 P.M. are a delusion.

Susan Heine Olesen
Greenfield Elementary School
Greenfield, Iowa

Editor’s Note: In fairness to Stephen Mitchell, he said that principals in rural areas “complain about a blue collar mentality.”

Training Teachers

Your recent article [“How Best To Train Teachers,’' January 1990] contains the usual claptrap espoused by the college community. The issue that really needs to be addressed is the quality of teaching that is carried out at the undergraduate level. Professors are researchers, not teachers. This fact seems to somehow elude the people who wrote the reports you mention in your article.

Colleges pick professors based on some criteria associated with a discipline, such as the candidate’s area of specialization or doctoral dissertation topic. Teaching ability is not considered because all professors lecture. As an educator who is involved in staff development, I am expected to model the qualities I want my staff to use in the classroom. You will not see this expectation at the college level.

Professors, however, do not see themselves as the culprits. It is always the courses, the curriculum, the undergraduates. It is time for teacher trainers to look inward to see the type of model they are providing for the educators of the future.

Walter Dabrowski
Curriculum Supervisor, History and Business Education
Pemberton School District
Pemberton, N.J.


I agree with the conclusion of your article on teaching reading [“Both Ends Against The Middle,’' January 1990]; both whole language and phonics are necessary. As a 1st grade teacher for ten years, I wanted to say that At Last! A Reading Method For Every Child by Pecci Educational Publishers offers a good way to combine the best of both approaches.

Linda Mills
Riverside, Calif.

Teacher Magazine welcomes letters. They must include your address and daytime phone number and may be edited for length and clarity. Mail them to: Letters to the Editor, Teacher Magazine, 4301 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 250, Washington, DC 20008.

A version of this article appeared in the April 01, 1990 edition of Teacher as Letters to the Editor