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Jumping through hoops to teach

August 10, 2008

Re "Testing my patience," Opinion, Aug. 3

In attempting to assure that all public schools in California are staffed by highly qualified teachers, the Legislature has created a series of requirements having little to do with effective instruction. The wonder is that anyone at all bothers to apply for a teaching credential.

A more realistic way to determine who is a good candidate is to use a variation on the strategy that casting directors and stage producers have long relied on. Observe all applicants while they teach a class of students in their subject field, and then evaluate them on the basis of stipulated criteria.

Paper-and-pencil tests have their place, but they are no substitute for the wherewithal that teachers rely on every day working with students. Performance assessment is a more authentic way of sorting out applicants. It takes more time than the present system, but it has higher predictive value.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles

The writer taught for 28 years in the LAUSD and was a lecturer in the UCLA Graduate School of Education.

In my 33 years of teaching, after receiving numerous honors including San Diego Teacher of the Year, I was sent a letter from the school district. It said that because I did not get the California CLAD (Cross-cultural, Language and Academic Development Certificate), I would not receive my salary -- unless I paid the state $55 for an emergency credential. I filled out the forms and paid the $55.

The next year I received another letter from the district, indicating I would have to pay another $55 and be evaluated by the state as well. I submitted my resignation and left the teaching profession, which I loved. My patience, like Ellie Herman's, was tested by a deplorable, frustrating and insensitive bureaucratic system that will only lead to mediocrity as more and more bright, energetic and creative teachers seek careers elsewhere.

Larry Zeiger

San Diego

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