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Teacher Quality in Inner City

April 18, 1999

Re "Class-Size Reduction Doesn't Benefit All," Commentary, April 7: Randy Ross believes that good teachers are looking for ways to get out of the low-income, poverty schools. He feels that class-size reduction has furthered the ability for good teachers to do just that.

Maybe, instead of blaming class-size reduction or even poverty, Ross should take a long, hard look at why those teachers want out. Most low-income, poverty schools have plenty of money to spend on their students, thanks to federal funding, but money is not always the answer. How many of the troubled schools have a strict discipline policy, have parent support and involvement, have students who come to school ready to learn and have a staff that has support from the administrator? There are so many variables in any particular school.

Teachers will teach in the schools where they can teach, where they have support from administrators and parents and where the students come ready to learn. Money and class-size reduction are not the issues.

JOANNE M. CHUPP, Garden Grove

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Even schools in the middle- and upper-class areas of the San Fernando Valley hired non-credentialed teachers to fill the classrooms. The concept of smaller classes allowing for better reading instruction, etc., in the primary grades is defeated by having unqualified teachers in the classroom.

What Ross and the public in general need to know is that the only way there will be enough good, credentialed teachers around is to increase the pay substantially. Why would a college student want to become a teacher and earn $30,000 a year when he/she could get a job paying $50,000 or more in private industry? Perhaps L.A. Annenberg Metropolitan Project money should be spent on finding ways to adequately fund education so teaching becomes a desirable career. With the lowest unemployment rates in decades, the competition among employers is raising salaries everywhere but education.

STEVE LEFFERT, Van Nuys

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