Regarding teachers

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Regarding the Sept. 9 letter "Strike-Happy Pa.": I cannot imagine a less informed set of assumptions. First, the writer questions that income levels make one better at his or her job. Perhaps teachers should work for free? Second, he dislikes that "public servants are allowed to have organized labor unions in Pennsylvania," making us a "strike-happy state."

And on and on, reductio ad absurdum, blaming the teachers for some children's poor work attitudes and practices. The reality is: 1) We teachers expend decades of college learning and teaching hours to earn our licenses. 2) It requires additional courses to earn an (obligatory) master's degree in education. 3) We need to teach many years on the step-by-step promotional system to earn our eventual pension rights. And we are evaluated repeatedly over the years.

You cannot blame the teachers for public school underachievement. Here's what and whom you can blame: 1) The peer group culture of school-hating students -- often let loose from very overworked parents who have no preschool help facilities for young children, and few if any after-school activities. 2) The self-serving proportion of school administrators who have escaped the classroom trenches and now do little but scheduling and dictating to teachers under their officious sway. 3) The undervaluing of public schools, education in general -- remember the "egghead" prejudice? -- and resentment of teachers who may have failed one in the past.

Remember, no worker wants to strike. It usually occurs after contracts have not been agreed to (sometimes for years). Also remember, the labor unions gave America the eight-hour day, an end to child labor and myriad benefits, e.g., two weeks' vacation. Compare this to many European workers' two months of vacation.

BEVERLY L. DARWIN
Squirrel Hill

The writer formerly was a high school teacher.


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