I read with interest and utter disgust your article about the tribulations of Roderick Crochiere, the teacher accused of improperly touching a student. He is a victim of circumstances whose only crime is that he cared too much. And what a price to pay! I’m a former elementary school teacher, and I had wanted to return to the classroom, but your article has prompted me to reconsider. Students like Alexis, her mother, and the school principal involved could kill the desire of many who aspire to teaching. I hope Crochiere wins all his litigation.
I was amazed by the similarities between Crochiere’s case and the case I am now fighting against the Conroe (Texas) Board of Education. When I found it necessary to punish one of my students for a truancy from my class, he went before the principal of our high school where I had taught theater arts for eight years with a story that turned into a real “witch hunt.’' The details of the case are too involved to go into in this letter, but suffice it to say that after 26 hours of hearings and six hours of deliberation, the board voted to terminate me. An appeals hearing is scheduled before the Texas Education Agency in Austin, Texas.
The letters between Margaret Metzger and Clare Fox Ringwall [“Friendly Persuasion,’' April] made me realize that teachers are real people and they do make differences in the lives of their students. I’m 35 years young and just beginning college. I hope to become one of the special teachers like Metzger.
It was insensitive of you to run an article on a young woman in the Brookline, Mass., school system who is undecided on whether she wants to teach when there are so many unemployed teachers right now who are dying to teach, especially in the Boston area. Many of us who have dreamt since high school of being a teacher would love to have Ringwall’s job. Please, Teacher Magazine, get real. I was appalled by this article.
A Matter Of Taste
So, Jim Burke [“Rock Of Ages,’' March], a teacher not yet 30 years old, has trouble dealing with some raunchy rock ‘n’ roll and the raunchy role-playing that goes on at concerts. Well, Jim, I’m a 27-year-old high school teacher who has attended well over 200 rock concerts and club performances, starting when I was in 10th grade. And sure, I’ve seen some wild sights and heard some bizarre music in my time, and I’ll probably see and hear more. But I don’t think it has greatly corrupted me. I’m a responsible adult and teacher who proudly enjoys the music and energy of concerts. I see them for pleasure and thrills--and as creative outlets. I’ve even seen those wicked Cramps you write about--four times. Each show was fun. Long live rock!
Manhattan Comprehensive Night High School
New York City
I was appalled by Burke’s article but not because of the description of the concert. I know such things take place. But I was aghast that he allowed his students to remain at the concert. If he has such tremendous rapport with his students, why didn’t he take advantage of it and talk to his kids about the dangers of having their minds filled with garbage? Why didn’t he explain that some things should be censored for our own protection? When are we going to wake up and accept that we have a responsibility not only to teach the three Rs but also to be a role model and teach some basic principles of morality. The youth of today are truly a generation at-risk. If we don’t do something about it now, they will be a lost generation.
For shame. One would think that the editors of a magazine for educators would know that the past tense of the verb “to dive’’ is “dived.’' You let Perry Zirkel [“Staying Out Of Court,’' May/ June] say, “The boy dove into the deep end....’'
Society for the Preservation of the English Language and Literature Schuylerville, N.Y.
Editor’s Note: Webster’s New World Dictionary, the dictionary we use, lists both “dived’’ and “dove’’ as accepted past tense uses of the verb “to dive.’'
LeRoy Hay [“From Teacher To Administrator,’' May/June] put his eggs in the wrong basket. Education takes place in the classroom, breathed into life by teachers who have carefully developed their educational philosophy from experience with children. Teaching is an art that can not be mandated from on high by administrators, no matter how good the intentions of a 23-year teacher who teaches no more.
M. Burton Hopkins
Salem High School
Salem, New Jersey
I was enjoying the story by Tori Reynolds [“When The Faces Turn To Masks,’' April] until I was brought up short when she said she “should have checked to see whether [the boys] were reading at all. The majority of the boys in this class were vocational students; English was their only ‘academic’ subject.’' We vocational teachers have to put up with narrowminded teachers who believe that all vocational classes are just playtime. I would like to inform such teachers that we do indeed read, write, and perform other duties. In Michigan, vocational teachers need to take several credit hours in teaching reading. To renew our certificates, we must take more courses than other teachers. I suggest that educators who think vocational classes are secondrate should visit their local vocational technical centers.
Pankow Voc-Tech Center
Mt. Clemens, Mich.
One “Notebook’’ item on your research page [“Male Vs. Female,’' April] reported that there is a high percentage of male principals because “male high school teachers consider female principals less effective than female teachers do.’' I think the real reason for the high percentage of male principals is that our secondary system still moves the teacher/coach into these positions. Most coaches are male, so as long as coaching is considered a key requirement, the trend will continue.
Mercer Island, Wash.
Fitness And Food
In most high schools and middle schools, an excellent source of information about foods is already available to students [“Unpleasantly Plump,’' January] in home economics classrooms. Students there learn skills in planning and preparing nutritious meals for themselves and their families. An interdisciplinary approach could expand nutrition lessons to include fitness information, encouraging a lifetime of good health practices.
Home Economics Teacher
Wyandanch Memorial High School
Providing special programs for gifted children is not an either-or proposition [“Turning On The Bright Lights,’' February]. Fairness to all is achieved when all students are given the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Coordinator of Gifted
Lower Dauphin School District
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,’' Teacher Magazine, 4301 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 250, Washington, DC 20008.
Your article on the response of several teachers to the Gulf War [“History In The Making,’' March] opens a particularly juicy can of worms. By using the popular news media instead of biased or simplistic textbooks, concerned teachers surely risked having their students raise questions that were “politically incorrect.’' With controversies continuing about instruction replete with demons, obscenities, and evolution, who wants to add another: the nature of patriotism. I wish your report had told us what happened when the students succeeded in their efforts to “figure it out.’' Any chance of a sequel on this timely approach to social studies?
Department of Art Education
Ohio State University
Beneath The Surface
Jonathan Weisman’s recent article [“The Apostles Of Self-Esteem,’' May/ June] only scratches the surface of an educational issue that has been misunderstood for two decades. The greatest contribution of the self-esteem movement will be to convince educators that students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. When teachers communicate that the subject being studied is more important than the students themselves, all but the most successful students perceive schooling as irrelevant, unfair, fragmented, rigid, and impersonal. Students need to be invited and motivated to put forth their best effort as learners--to participate fully in the process of quality education. I believe that the next decade will provide proof that proactive self-esteem approaches can empower both teachers and students to make schools inviting and exciting places to work and learn. This is the goal and this will be the impact of the self-esteem movement.
Middle School Counselor
A version of this article appeared in the August 01, 1991 edition of Teacher as Letters