I was heartened to read Bruce Crawford's March 3 op-ed column ("Vouching for the Importance to All of Public Education"). We share the same opinion about public education. There are, however, items that need to be clarified.
There is no such thing as tenure for K-12 teachers in California. It exists only for higher education teachers. In spite of the misconception that you can never fire a teacher, if a good administrator does his or her documentary homework in an effort to evaluate a teacher, it's merely a three-member hearing panel's majority decision as to the fate of that teacher's career. I have served on these panels and find them to be quite effective. Teachers are most concerned with "dead wood" in the profession, just as any other type of professional would be.
Crawford takes aim at the teachers unions. Union agreements address working conditions, salary and other compensatory items, safety issues, etc. They do not contain any language concerning curriculum. It is not within the scope of bargaining in California.
Were it not for the teachers unions, salaries would be so low that properly certified and qualified teachers would not be teaching in California unless they did it for a hobby.
The Sandia Report "think tank" study showed conclusively that education in the United States is better than ever. And yes, we are always looking for ways to improve. It's our nature.
* Bruce Crawford warns us of dire social consequences for generations if school vouchers are made available to parents. He also claims that he is satisfied with the performance of his children's government school though he concedes that the system is in need of "major repair."
His analysis leaves a glaring question unanswered: If school vouchers were available today would he continue to patronize the government institution or would he shop around, as a consumer of education, and seek the best school for his children? For a parent to compose an essay on this issue and not address this revealing question seems to me to be a bit disingenuous.
DAVID C. BLOXHAM