To the editor: Ken Futernick's three recommendations to combat teacher inefficiency are essential strategies toward improving the education of California's students. But there must first be a concerted effort to inform the public of just what good teaching actually means today. ("State needs a 'grand bargain' on teachers' effectiveness, obstacles," Op-Ed, Sept. 20)
Parents and the media have been lulled into complacency during an era of "teach-test-reteach-retest" brought about by the No Child Left Behind Act. Test scores became the crutch for determining teacher quality.
But we must ask ourselves if memorization and curriculum completion are the only things that define a quality education. Are our schools providing the environment for students to practice the skills essential for success today? Do our schools provide students with the opportunity to infuse technology in every aspect of their education? Are students allowed to develop the creative and collaborative skills so essential in our modern workforce? Are teachers being trained to develop these skills?
Most importantly, how will schools evaluate a teacher's success in implementing these strategies? Indeed, how will the schools, the state and the media make this information available to the public?
Bob Bruesch, Rosemead
To the editor: The writer is president of the Garvey School District Board of Education and a 1997 National Teachers Hall of Fame inductee.
Among Futernick's recommendations is a robust teacher evaluation framework that would "ensure that principals and other evaluators have the time and training needed to conduct meaningful evaluations." There should be another: The evaluators must be honest.
Evaluators should not lie about what happened because they or their superiors do not like a particular teacher or want to make that teacher so uncomfortable that he or she will resign. They also must not write glowingly positive evaluations just because they like a teacher.
This will never be an easy thing to guarantee because the evaluators are people with their own agendas and are under pressure from their superiors, just like the teachers.
Elizabeth Kerr, Ontario
To the editor: Finally, an educator and witness for the state of California in the Vergara trial informs us of the consequences of the decision invalidating teacher protection laws.
Sure, we want all students to have excellent teachers, but if conditions are not improved in our neediest communities, even the best will seek other employment. The claim that young, enthusiastic teachers are forced out by seniority does not take into account the historically high rate of turnover at these schools even during times when forced layoffs were not in effect.
Sadly, our education system is fraught with grand ideas that are not supported by research and have not been subject to robust discussions of future outcomes. L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy, a witness for the plaintiffs in Vergara, created the district's iPad project and oversaw the disastrous implementation of a new computer system.
The tax-paying public deserves better than this.
Sari Rynew, Studio City