Outlook Public School Outlook, Mont.
Who's In Charge?
Your article on principals and restructuring ["Who's In Charge Here?'' February 1990] calls for a response. The current administrator-dominated system doesn't work efficiently in today's setting. When administrators are empowered, you get well-managed schools, but everything else, including learning, is subordinated to management. The administrator-in-charge model is ideal for the factory concept of education, but it is counterproductive in a system that demands individual initiative and personal and professional strength in teachers. Administrators rarely give the superior leadership those quoted in the article imply. They are often self-seeking, domineering, professionally ignorant, and sometimes vicious people who lack respect for teachers.
It is ridiculous to place responsibility for the whole enterprise on the administrators' shoulders because that lets everyone else off the hook. It is far better to unite the profession by empowering teachers and letting them select and change their administrators with the consent of the school board. Strong teachers must be encouraged to lead and grow in the process. It is a perilous journey, but one we cannot avoid if we are serious about improving the schools.
Unified School District
I initially found alternative-certification programs ["Looking for A Short Cut,'' December 1989] to be very much a put-down of all the work and effort I had done both as an undergraduate and in my career as a teacher educator. As I more carefully investigate this new direction, I find myself not so much against the concept of alternative certification as opposed to some of the programs and the process. You simply cannot expect to prepare anyone in a short summer program, regardless of their subject strength and mastery. Unfortunately, some states have such an approach.
I am not convinced that any alternate route to teacher preparation that allocates only 80 hours to a preparation program can be a quality operation. Likewise, I am not convinced that we can adequately prepare individuals through a four-year undergraduate program. I think it is time we take a look at what the goals of a university education should truly be. Let's move teacher education to the graduate level and a year-long supervised teaching internship.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
College of Education
Those who seek alternative certification generally have worked in other fields, bring a multitude of personal experiences to enrich the classroom, are more mature, and have a strong, personal desire to become quality educators. Most receive hands-on training, lectures, textbook exams, and critiques of their effectiveness. They must perform to prescribed levels equal to or higher than most four-year program students.
I chose an alternative route to the classroom and was much more prepared for my first day and first year in the classroom than my four-yearteaching-degree friends. I also scored higher on Texas's teacher exams than did my peers. It sounds as though the National Education Association ["Wait A Minute.....,'' March 1990] would have national certification withheld from me. I am hurt that education professionals would consider me or my classroom performance substandard based on my route to the classroom. I am a professional. My classroom door is open and observers are welcome.
Weinert Elementary School
Teach And Travel
Teachers who had their interest piqued after reading your fine article ["All The World's Your Classroom,'' February 1990] should know there is one more resource that is indispensable to anyone looking for a job in an international school.
The International Educator features administrative and teaching positions in more than 150 international schools around the world. Each school lists its exact hiring needs, qualifications for prospective candidates, terms of employment, what to include in the application, and when and where interviews can be arranged. For more information, your readers can contact: TIE, P.O. Box 103, West Bridgewater, MA 02379; (508) 580-1880.
Cynthia Brown Editor
The International Educator West Bridgewater, Mass.
Cooperate To Learn
Using cooperative learning ["The ABC's Of Caring,'' January 1990] will result in caring adults, improved social interactions, and adults who know how to think for themselves. I have seen how traditional teaching approaches have not promoted these three qualities. By making children compete against each other, teachers produce self-centered adults because children get the notion that getting ahead and caring for fellow students are not synonymous. The Child Development Project, on the other hand, teaches that it is important for the whole group to thrive.
Our society needs to understand the benefits of cooperative learning.
Fort Ord, Calif.