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An identity crisis in the teaching profession

To the editor: Stephen Mucher asks the question, why make teaching such an obstacle course for those who love the profession? ("The teaching crisis that unions and school districts won't address," op-ed, March 18)

In my last teaching position of six years I created a visual arts department for middle and high school students, a screenwriting and filmmaking course complete with a film festival at year's end and a school garden that won two grants. Where am I today? I got laid off (the year I won both grants) by an administration terrified of test results.

Unfortunately, it is the relentless bureaucratic tinkering that is the source of the mess, the "ooh, let's try this!" mentality that ignores the reality of a system invented in the 19th century and based on an agricultural society.

Sound silly? It is, but consider this: After five years on the job, a high school graduate reasonably trained in technology most certainly makes more than an entry-level teacher who has spent those five years getting a degree and a credential. So, all things considered, who would want to go into teaching?

Hollis Jordan, Toluca Lake

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To the editor: While I agree with Mucher's main point, I disagree with his assertion that the teachers union is not fighting back against working conditions that cause aspiring teachers to rethink their career choice.

United Teachers Los Angeles' Schools L.A. Students Deserve campaign is focused on making sure schools are clean, adequately staffed and full of teachers who are fairly compensated and respected. When I hand out leaflets to parents or stand with my colleagues at Grand Park and demand to be heard, I am well aware of the danger that my lifelong and beloved career is under.

I teach in a district that imposes policies and technologies that do not work. Our current evaluation system is sucking excessive and valuable time out of every participant's life and classroom. I have worked without a raise for eight years.

As I fight for a fair and just contract, I hold closely my fervent desire for public schools that continue to serve every child well. That begins with teachers who are respected, supported and fairly compensated.

Cathy Scott-Skubik, San Pedro

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