To the editor: Natalie Babcock is very perceptive for a second-year teacher. Everything she said about public education — the 60-hour workweeks, the overcrowded classrooms, the lack of help serving students with special needs, among other problems — is probably true in almost every California school district.
I still remember my first years teaching third and fourth grades. When I would ask colleagues when my professional life would get easier, they just smiled and said it would not.
Well, I retired after 25 years in teaching, and that observation proved correct. Still, I loved teaching, and so do most educators. That’s why we stay in such a hard job.
We let the powers that control the funding take advantage of us. Paying us more money is not a real solution; rather, we need more people to help us do our jobs. Putting students’ needs first means helping the teachers first.
Carol Lamar, Yorba Linda
To the editor: Let’s face it: We have made the teaching profession a daily chore that satisfies the dictum of a largely uninformed political apparatus. We must now consider why schools in Scandinavia and Singapore are more successful than we.
Could it be that they train teachers for five years basically for free? Could it also be that training future teachers is done collaboratively, and educators are expected to teach in that way? Is it because teacher candidates are almost guaranteed a job upon graduation with salaries commensurate with first-year engineers or doctors?
The cure to the malaise of hopelessness among so many young teachers is to treat them as “professionals” with the ability to create successful curriculum for their classrooms, to set goals for themselves and devise remediation for their weaknesses.
Only then will we see our education system begin to reach the goals so desired by the public.
Bob Bruesch, Rosemead
The writer is a 1997 inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.
To the editor: While teachers unquestionably face the many challenges that Babcock notes, she fails to mention that educators generally have a vacation of two to three months every year.
This must be considered when evaluating teacher salaries.
Gerry Swider, Sherman Oaks
To the editor: My head nearly left my neck from nodding in affirmation when reading Babcock’s pitch-perfect piece. There was one thing missing, and I assume that, as a charter school teacher, she is flying solo in ways more than she mentioned:
“I need to work with my colleagues to unionize and join fellow Los Angeles Unified School District teachers who are reaching out to parents and the community at large to further galvanize the fight against the wealthy privatizers before they successfully undermine public education into extinction.”
Joel Freedman, Los Angeles
The writer is an LAUSD magnet school teacher.