Readers React

Teachers should work more hours for higher pay? Impossible.

To the editor: What teacher wouldn't want to earn $125,000? Dick Startz's and Dan Goldhaber's call to increase teacher pay as a way to get better results makes sense. The problem, however, is that it applies only to elementary schools. ("Investing in teacher pay could spur big gains for California students," op-ed, March 9)

When I left my teaching position at a local public high school four years ago, one of my classes had 46 students. The other four were not far behind.

At my school, teachers were encouraged or even required to help out with administrative work. This was in addition to having to prepare lessons, grading essays, tests and homework for roughly 200 students, and dealing with discipline problems or other student needs.

If we want more bang for the buck, I suggest first lowering class size in secondary schools and letting teachers do the work that will most help students to achieve at higher levels. I still don't know whether teachers would have time for administrative work, but that should not be a requirement for higher pay.

There are only so many hours in a day, including evenings and weekends.

Kathleen Trinity, Acton

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To the editor: Over 38 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District, I received periodic pay raises and improved health benefits. These increases were nice, but they didn't make me a better teacher. They just made me a more expensive teacher.

But four things did improve my teaching:

First, experience. I needed time to fully understand the dynamics of the classroom and the course material taught.

Second, critiques by colleagues.

Third, personal motivation. I wanted my students to enjoy history and pass my classes. Failure was not acceptable. Extra time and effort were a function of this desire.

Fourth, monetary gain was not the compelling reason I went into teaching. Sharing my love of history with young people was. Good teachers know what I am talking about.

A good paycheck is fine, but it is not everything.

Robert Livingston, Northridge

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