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Doors of Learning Stand Agape at Dana Hills

December 18, 1988

Finally, after years of pleading, cajoling and wheedling, we teachers at Dana Hills High School are hearing the faint murmurings from the district office that doors for our classrooms might become a genuine topic for discussion. We have heard murmurings before. What we want to hear is the opening and closing of doors on our classrooms.

That's right, doors. Most of our classrooms are open to the increasingly busy corridors, and are therefore susceptible to the disruptive noises of passersby, interruptions of all kinds and noises from nearby classes.

The reasons why we don't have doors are historic and nefarious to the point that some have moved into the world of legend and myth. The most persistent of these myths until very recently was that doors would constitute a fire hazard. This myth prevailed until some latter-day Socrates challenged it by bringing in the fire chief for a more current opinion.

The specter of budget replaced the waning fire myth. Budget, then, is the reigning religion which prevents our having doors on our classrooms.

Despite the inability of logic to prevail, I submit these facts to a candid world. The district rakes in lottery money every year with which it has built a contingency fund and bought school buses and new computers. It still maintains that we don't have the money for so basic a piece of equipment as classroom doors.

All this came to a head recently as we tried to administer the California Assessment Program tests to our seniors. Just try and get 45 minutes of quiet time in your doorless classroom for the benefit of your students. Just try to get them to concentrate as people go by, people come in, and people play loud films down the hall.

We were all conjoined to make the CAP testing a success. Much time and effort was spent on preparing us and our students for it. Then we have to give the test in the middle of chaos, noise and interruption. To what extent our students and school will be penalized by lower test scores for the lack of quiet remains to be seen.

Will anything be done? Probably not, at least not soon. One thing is clear. It will take parents calling the district office to complain to get anything done, and that's what I urge parents to do. Insist on the right for your sons and daughters to have the best possible educational environment. The district is required to supply that environment. You pay for it, but you and your kids aren't getting it. The only way they will get it is if you call, you write, you insist.

The district number is (714) 496-1415.

ROBERT HEYLMUN

Dana Point

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