To the editor: Yes, "far too many students are failing or falling behind." And no, it is not the fault of teachers. ("Judges weigh arguments over teacher vs. student rights in landmark tenure lawsuit," Feb. 25)
Until the social and economic circumstances of many public school students change, they will continue to fail or fall behind. Teachers alone cannot solve those problems.
Teachers are part of the solution, but when students enter school with little background knowledge, few skills and without access to books, paper and pencils, teachers cannot make up for this. When students do not receive the message that school is important at home, teachers cannot make up for this.
Of course, some teachers are better skilled than others, but teachers are only one part of the equation. Stop blaming them and start focusing on the root cause of our dire education situation: social and economic conditions.
Nancy Cooper, Moorpark
To the editor: Sure, the current tenure system in the Los Angeles Unified School District protects too many bad teachers. But we don't get enough good ones because — yet again — our officials have kicked the can down the road by accepting costs that emerge later (through tenure) rather than paying attractive wages and providing decent conditions (such as small classes) from a current budget.
If we're going to fire teachers because they are "key to whether students founder" and "too many students are failing" in some disadvantaged neighborhoods, should we also fire police officers in the same neighborhoods because police are key to whether people commit crimes and are obviously failing to stop them?
Who in his right mind would become either a teacher or a police officer if he was expected to magically solve such deep-seated problems?
Robert Watson, Los Angeles