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'Schools Missing Point: Education'

October 04, 1987

I read with interest the Sept. 27 Commentary of Joseph Bell, "Schools Missing Point: Education." It seems to me that Bell identified one of the key problems with education today, not by what he said but by what he did, namely leaving teaching. His exodus is not an isolated case. He joins the ranks of many caring and competent colleagues who have left the field. I'm not sure exactly how many there have been, but I do know that the number is significant.

I, for example, am married to one of the best who has left. After 15 years of teaching, my wife is now in sales, making about $30,000 more a year than her community college instructor husband. Recently, I attended as a "qualified guest" a convention rewarding the most successful representatives and managers in her company. At one session, the following question was posed to the 400 attendees: "How many of you used to be in education?" About half of the participants stood.

So many good people have left the profession and, I suspect, many more good people have been discouraged from entering it. Why? I believe that the bottom line is dollars. Many good educators have been forced out of the field because of the consequences of too few dollars, such as paltry salaries for the time invested in career preparation and the frustration generated by crowded classes and extended workloads caused by the failure to hire sufficient staff.

This same lack of dollars, of course, has also discouraged many good people from entering the field, and, perhaps more importantly, has distracted and drained many who remain by forcing them to supplement their incomes by a variety of moonlighting activities.

It seems to me that in this country and certainly within this state (Let's hear it for Duke!), we are obsessed with saving a buck. It may be true that in many cases less expensive is desirable. It seems, however, that we learned the hard way that it wasn't true in the case of the space shuttle, and I wonder how long it will take us to discover that it isn't true in the case of education.

ROBERT J. EGAN

Huntington Beach

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