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It's Unrealistic for Parents to Interview Teachers

July 24, 1994

* With all due respect to my colleague Adrienne Mack (Valley Commentary, July 10), her proposal that parents interview their child's prospective teachers is extremely unrealistic.

It may have some validity for elementary school teachers, but middle and high school teachers have five periods with a class load of as many as 40 per class--that's 200 students. Where would a teacher find the time to hold such interviews?

Mack also contradicts herself in one sentence: "Pupils can request specific teachers, but whether the request is honored depends on the counselor and whatever rules the principal may have laid down." Few principals would be so foolish as to allow students to pick individual teachers. Schools have enough problems just getting the programming done without the incredible complexity that would result from students requests. And if a pupil wants a particular teacher, it may be that a "popular" teacher isn't necessarily the one with the most demanding standards and expectations.

Asking a teacher about the college degree, experience, professional reading and convention attendance sounds interesting. Perhaps parents can also extend this idea when meeting with their doctors, bankers, accountants, dentists and attorneys. Pharmacists put their diplomas on the wall. So do barbers.

Probably the best way for parents to meet teachers and to get to know them is by attending open house and back-to-school nights. Too bad so many parents don't bother to show up for these events.



Hoffman teaches social studies at Taft High School in Woodland Hills.

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