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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Rethinking Education

June 11, 2005

Between the patronizing tone of Wendy Kopp's article ("Moms and Dads Want to Do This Homework," Opinion, June 5) stating that if public school teachers only involved parents everything would be fine, and the insinuation by Catherine Seipp ("Elitist Parents and Their Sappy Class Delusions," Opinion, June 5) that good teachers are found only in the city's "handful of elite public elementary schools," I found myself wondering why neither of them will take on the current job of teaching if the solutions are just as easy as moving "good" teachers to "bad" schools and making a few phone calls to parents.

It is getting tiresome to constantly read the teacher-bashing editorials characterized by one-size-fits-all solutions spewed out by The Times.

The only editorialist who actually offered real, workable solutions was Norton Grubb ("Everything I Really Need to Know I Learned in Helsinki," Opinion, June 5), who detailed the multi-pronged, aggressive interventions employed in Finland, some of which could be transferred to our system. But because some of these interventions require amelioration of poverty conditions and hiring more personnel for each classroom, his suggestions will likely be ignored by our current crop of visionless politicians and elitist editorialists.

I and other teachers are hoping the new mayor will use his obvious enthusiasm and energy to help the community, students and teachers implement far-reaching change instead of rearranging deck chairs every few years.

Barbara Stam

Long Beach

*

Kopp is absolutely correct concerning the importance of family involvement in the academic success of children and the willingness of parents to learn and implement strategies for success. The "highly effective" or "successful" classroom teacher can reach out to parents and make a difference, but until the leaders of our schools and school districts make this a priority at each school, we are not tapping into the most valuable resource we have to use in achieving the goal of academic success for all children.

Paul Burns

Granada Hills

*

Grubb leaves out a crucial factor in explaining the disparity in reading scores between students in Finland and their U.S. counterparts: the voluntary reading habits of young people in those countries. The citizens of Finland read more books per capita than any other country on the planet, and the love of reading, passed from parent to child, starts at an early age. By comparison, the typical American adolescent reads for pleasure about 10 minutes per day, while watching between four to six hours of television.

California schools can adopt Finnish classroom practices, but until our kids develop a love of the written word and contain their addiction to television/video games, our reading scores will always be subpar.

Dave Minahan

Long Beach

*

Re "Ed Boards Could Use Some Wal-Mart Smarts," Opinion, June 5: In comparing public schools to a retail store, Naomi Riley shows a poor understanding of business models as well as education. Education could only be reasonably compared to a service industry model.

Further, she chose a retail business model that focuses on low price rather than quality of product. Is that really what we want for our schools? I don't think so.

If we are going to call on those with business experience, let's choose someone from the service industry that focuses on quality.

Perhaps the hotel industry would be a good model, and let's choose someone from the Ritz rather than the Idle Hour Motel.

Herv Inskeep

Laguna Woods

*

Riley should have looked at the solution we have here in the Los Angeles Unified School District -- charter schools! Those schools are based on the premise that education is a business and those teachers and administrators who do not meet expectations are removed.

The unions do not have the clout to keep the status quo as in all the other public schools, and those lucky few of us to have children in these schools are forever grateful.

Richard M. Meyers

Granada Hills

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