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Teacher 'Monopoly'

June 09, 1991

Mary Yarber (Times, May 30) is certainly right that students and teachers both benefit from smaller classes. But her absolutely correct equation, "fewer students per class equals more learning," points far beyond where she is thinking. The wondrous benefits obtained by downsizing from 35 to 20 students become still more pronounced all the way down to a single student: one-on-one tutorials.

Nowhere in her lengthy column does she mention the issue of cost--the only way that the claims of education can be balanced rationally against all the other claims made upon taxpayers and those who decide how to spend the taxes taken from them. But if small classes are so good, then are we to accept the near-doubling of teaching staffs to obtain them?

Not at all: That is just the only solution that she would like us to think about, the policy which gains maximum benefit for the teachers' unions, which goes furthest to enhance job security for current teachers and dues income for the unions.

The real aim of this government-guaranteed monopoly is to keep and improve jobs for its members, not to produce a product, namely good education, that will serve the public. Since they are subjected to no job competition from educated but uncredentialed members of the public, and since the children they teach are kept in the classroom by the threat of police force, they do not have to please their customers.

They will use teachers dues to heavily finance opposition to Educational Choice, a Libertarian and Republican ballot initiative to put more power in the hands of parents. They will oppose enlisting students as tutors, a method which many parochial and private schools have used to drive down both costs and teacher-student ratios simultaneously--with the benefit that children learn more.

NEAL DONNER

Los Angeles

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