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No Substitute for Excellent Teachers

March 14, 1993

By accepting the latest proposal of Assembly Speaker Willie Brown and deciding to forgo the planned walkout, Los Angeles teachers appeared to be trying to show their good will, although the great majority felt that the proposal does not work to their best interest. I commend the teachers for this show of good sense and allegiance to their profession.

But this posture of the teachers should not be misconstrued as a capitulation. It is not the time to declare a truce.

It is a sad commentary that teachers are generally taken for granted and do not enjoy the prestige they truly deserve. Could this be the reason why the teaching profession is not attracting highly talented men and women?

It is time that the teachers are given a better deal. Buildings, classrooms, teaching materials are essential in every school system, but these will not be of much use if the teachers are discontented and demoralized. There is no substitute for competent teachers.

Do we give adequate remuneration? Is it not paradoxical that while society is more than willing to pay for the services of people whose work has only an insignificant bearing on the welfare of our children--such as those in the pleasure industries--it seems reluctant to give a fair salary to those who hold the destiny of children?

People who think that teachers are already adequately paid have no idea how many teachers sacrifice to acquire instructional materials for their classrooms. Alert teachers spend a substantial part of their salary to continue their own education, buy books and magazines and attend seminars.

Let us give the teachers all the support they truly deserve and demand of them the highest quality educational service they can offer. Top priority should be given to their compensation and welfare if we truly believe that education is a task of the first magnitude.

MELQUIADES F. PUGNE

Boyle Heights

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