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Teachers: Debate Over Professional Standards

January 27, 1994

In a response to my earlier letter (Jan. 6) commenting on teaching salaries compared to other "professions" and educational spending in the U.S., letter writer Georgia Cary Dubrin (Carver Middle School teacher) inquires about my "credentials" to determine, among other matters, what a professional is. As a California licensed professional for the past 25 years and as an individual who has contributed over 3,000 hours of voluntary time coaching at two Santa Monica high schools (not to mention donating and raising in excess of $10,000 for Santa Monica High the past three years), I suspect that I am fully capable of recognizing the distinctions between professionals and well-educated trade union members. Many occupations require years of training or education and still do not qualify as true professions. Moreover, the professions I mentioned are self-regulatory--something none of the teachers' organizations do.

My credentials for commenting on the state of education in this country include two stepdaughters (19 and 24) who are products of L.A. Unified, a household member who is a legal immigrant in her senior year at University High School, and too many hours to count discussing our educational system with teachers and other academics, and reading intensely about education matters (from Dewey to William Bennett, Jonathon Kozol and Thomas Sowell).

With regard to Ms. Dubrin's assertion that I imply women have less "dedication" to their careers than men--all I can do is let the statistical record speak for itself. Any implied conclusion on my part is that I recognize women's greater dedication to family and children. In fact, the children of women who "drop out" are statistically the most likely to succeed in our educational system. As Casey Stengel said, "You can look it up."

Dubrin's comment, "If teachers were paid by private individuals . . ." defies analysis because it is an oxymoron. Teachers are paid by taxpayers and these are very private individuals. If on the other hand, teachers negotiated salaries without a lock-step union, many would make more money, some less, and still others would justifiably be standing in unemployment lines. It's my opinion that this would benefit our children.

Having spent a lifetime of 50- to 70-hour weeks in the private professional sector and much of my spare time around teachers and coaches, I don't buy Dubrin's claim of equivalency with respect to hard work. Many teachers do work quite hard, but many don't know what really hard work is, and far too many are retired on the job (and remain there--protected by their unions.)

One thing's for sure, though, Dubrin's response resembles the tactics of the "credentialed educational elites." They stridently tell parents that they are not well-educated enough to make decisions about what our children's best interests are and, thus, these credentialed elites are entitled to run the system as they see fit without interference or criticism.


Santa Monica

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