To the editor: After 40 years teaching English in public schools, I'm really ticked off that people think tenure means that you can sit around eating bon bons, and nobody can touch you if you don't teach anything. Anybody who's ever had to control a room of 40 kids knows that you have to be on your toes every minute to interest them enough to keep your own sanity. ("California voters take a dim view of teacher tenure," April 11)
And funny how the 23-year-old bank teller quoted in your article thinks that only twentysomethings are doing an exciting job, but that older teachers with tenure "were not there mentally and emotionally." So, what should happen when the young teacher gets older? Just kick her out and find a younger, cheaper replacement?
The longer I taught, the better teacher I became. I understood kids better, considered their private problems that affected their schoolwork, and I just knew more — I had more facts and personal stories to add to the course.
Tenure is not Easy Street for a teacher. It simply helps to insure continuity in the methods and traditions of the school faculty. If you are a parent, you know that continuity makes kids feel secure because they know what to expect. Tenure helps to create a school with a committed group of teachers who can be counted on, for a calm future.
Cheryl Clark, Long Beach
To the editor: How about a survey of parental effectiveness? Maybe a few questions like:
Do you have books in the house? Do you read with or without your child? Have you suggested a book for your child to read? Estimate how many minutes a day you speak to your child about various academic subjects like history, math and so on?
Do you have homework time set aside? Do you look over homework? Delve into the significance of it? Do you encourage your child's academic progress?
I think you will find the results interesting.
Joan Martin, Woodland Hills
To the editor: As an educator and a teachers union member, I am protected by the current tenure system. But I believe that, in the long run, it ultimately benefits both our profession and our students to increase accountability by reworking California's tenure and layoff laws.
As the article notes, the public has a lot of respect for teachers, the vast majority of whom are highly dedicated. The shadow that a small minority of disengaged teachers casts on the profession hurts all of us.
By taking ownership of teacher quality, the union can help to elevate the profession and strengthen its reputation. This would put all of us in a stronger position to advocate for the schools that all students and teachers deserve.
Kat Czujko, Los Angeles
The writer is a Teach Plus teaching policy fellow.
To the editor: As a retired teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, I remain profoundly interested in the issues affecting students and teachers. There definitely must be a way to weed out poor teachers from classrooms, and I expect the tenure battle to continue for a while.
In the article, you quote a local bank teller comparing "young, enthusiastic, hard-working teachers" with older ones. It is unfortunate that her experiences in several schools led to those unfair conclusions.
At the last school I taught at in Highland Park, we had a strong principal and experienced, dedicated and caring teachers. We also had young, energetic teachers who were treasured by the older ones and benefited from their mentoring and support.
This should not be about "us vs. them," but about the children, who deserve our very best.
Ramona Saenz, Alhambra