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Education Clock Is Ticking for Students

December 15, 1991

As I read the article about Helen Bernstein's activities in the UTLA a knot formed in my gut. When we finished the article, either my wife or I said to the other, "Are you sure you want to be a teacher?"

I don't remember which one of us made the statement and it really doesn't matter. We are both studying to be teachers. I am 55 and my wife is 38. We both have successful careers and simply want to teach. We want to be involved with young people and give back what we have learned.

My first (reaction) was outrage at the arrogance and unprofessional attitudes of Bernstein and the UTLA. I remembered the strike in 1989. In all of my many years on this Earth, I have seen many tragic events, but none so tragic as the time when teachers went out on strike against innocent young students.

The issue of low teachers' pay is a myth. Teachers seem to believe that they are in some special category and that they should work only 180 days a year and make as much money as all the rest of us who work a minimum of 237 days. (If you have your own business it is 365 days worked.) Also, everyone is having a hard time right now.

I expect the UTLA to make the issues and concerns clear to us parents and taxpayers. Teachers are supposed to be able to write and speak in a cogent manner. UTLA negotiations should be open to the public--if not to everyone, then to reporters who would inform parents and taxpayers what is going on.

If teachers want to be respected, they must do something other than what the UTLA is doing. Their agenda should be to promote teaching as a profession that is respected.

VINCENT V. SMITH

Mar Vista

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