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Education: When will we learn?

June 12, 2008

Re "Thousands of teachers leave classrooms for budget protest," June 7

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hit the nail on the head when he said, "We have a broken budget system that is taking schools on a roller-coaster ride." In the early 1970s, teachers were not being offered contracts that would lead to tenured employment. Why? Because of a "budget crunch." College students dropped out of education programs.

A few years later, a "teacher shortage" developed. Anyone with a college degree was being hired and put directly into the classroom without ever having taken an education course, and certainly without having a teaching credential. The vast majority of untrained beginning teachers had a really rough time, and their students suffered as well.

This same pattern -- the roller coaster of the hiring freezes, the layoffs, the shortages -- was repeated in the 1980s and the 1990s. Students and American society were shortchanged. Whatever it takes to maintain the quality of education at the highest possible level, even if it means (shudder) a tax increase, must be done.

Diana E. Wolff

Rancho Palos Verdes

The writer is a professor emerita at the Cal State Dominguez Hills College of Education.

I am a teacher at Bell High School. My wife teaches at Harbor Magnet/Park Western Place Elementary in San Pedro. At both campuses, the faculty took a survey and voted overwhelmingly to reject the teachers union's proposition to disrupt the school day and boycott the first hour of instruction.

Instead, at Bell we had more than 100 teachers arrive an hour before school started to carry placards and make clear our protest against the proposed budget cuts, and the same happened at my wife's school. We were in our classrooms and ready for a regular day of instruction on Friday. Our message was delivered, the union got a lot of publicity, but our students had a productive, instead of a disrupted, day.

John Reid

San Pedro

I oppose the state's education spending reductions in the proposed budget. My daughter attends a magnet school for gifted and talented students in the dramatic arts. Her admission into this public middle school was based on her artistic abilities.

Her school lost all art classes for the summer program. This is an "arts" school! The proposed budget would also eliminate physical education. Her school only has a nurse for 1.5 days a week -- students taking medication for asthma or severe allergies have their lives imperiled daily by the current budget, let alone with the proposed cuts.

Students need art, music and fitness to succeed in life. Our children did not create this budget crisis, so why should they have to pay for it?

Joe Tishkoff

Sherman Oaks

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