Ten­ure lessons

Re “Vot­ers take a dim view of teacher ten­ure,” USC Dorn­sife / Times Poll, April 11

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Af­ter 40 years teach­ing English in public schools, I’m re­ally ticked off that peo­ple think ten­ure means that you can sit around eat­ing bon bons, and no­body can touch you if you don’t teach any­thing. Any­body who’s ever had to con­trol a room of 40 kids knows that you have to be on your toes ev­ery minute to in­ter­est them enough to keep your own san­ity. And funny how the 23-year-old bank teller quoted in your ar­ti­cle thinks that only twen­tysome­things are do­ing an ex­cit­ing job, but that older teach­ers with ten­ure “were not there men­tally and emo­tion­ally.” So, what should hap­pen when the young teacher gets older? Just kick her out and find a younger, cheaper re­place­ment?

The longer I taught, the bet­ter teacher I be­came. I un­der­stood kids bet­ter, con­sid­ered their pri­vate prob­lems that af­fected their school­work, and I just knew more — I had more facts and per­sonal sto­ries to add to the course.

Ten­ure is not Easy Street for a teacher. It sim­ply helps to in­sure con­ti­nu­ity in the meth­ods and tra­di­tions of the school fac­ulty. If you are a par­ent, you know that con­ti­nu­ity makes kids feel se­cure be­cause they know what to ex­pect. Ten­ure helps to cre­ate a school with a com­mit­ted group of teach­ers who can be counted on, for a calm fu­ture.

Ch­eryl Clark, Long Beach

How about a sur­vey of parental ef­fec­tive­ness? Maybe a few ques­tions like:

Do you have books in the house? Do you read with or with­out your child? Have you sug­gested a book for your child to read? Es­ti­mate how many min­utes a day you speak to your child about var­i­ous aca­demic sub­jects like his­tory, math and so on?

Do you have homework time set aside? Do you look over homework? Delve into the sig­nif­i­cance of it? Do you en­cour­age your child’s aca­demic progress?

I think you will find the re­sults in­ter­est­ing.

Joan Martin

Wood­land Hills

As an ed­u­ca­tor and a teach­ers union mem­ber, I am pro­tected by the cur­rent ten­ure sys­tem. But I be­lieve that, in the long run, it ul­ti­mately benefits both our pro­fes­sion and our stu­dents to in­crease ac­count­abil­ity by re­work­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s ten­ure and lay­off laws.

As the ar­ti­cle notes, the public has a lot of re­spect for teach­ers, the vast ma­jor­ity of whom are highly ded­i­cated. The shadow that a small mi­nor­ity of dis­en­gaged teach­ers casts on the pro­fes­sion hurts all of us.

By tak­ing own­er­ship of teacher qual­ity, the union can help to el­e­vate the pro­fes­sion and strengthen its rep­u­ta­tion. This would put all of us in a stronger po­si­tion to ad­vo­cate for the schools that all stu­dents and teach­ers de­serve.

Kat Czu­jko

Los An­ge­les The writer is a Teach Plus teach­ing pol­icy fel­low.

As a re­tired teacher in the Los An­ge­les Uni­fied School Dis­trict, I re­main pro­foundly in­ter­ested in the is­sues af­fect­ing stu­dents and teach­ers. There def­i­nitely must be a way to weed out poor teach­ers from class­rooms, and I ex­pect the ten­ure battle to con­tinue for a while.

In the ar­ti­cle, you quote a lo­cal bank teller com­par­ing “young, en­thu­si­as­tic, hard­work­ing teach­ers” with older ones. It is un­for­tu­nate that her ex­pe­ri­ences in sev­eral schools led to those un­fair con­clu­sions.

At the last school I taught at in High­land Park, we had a strong prin­ci­pal and ex­pe­ri­enced, ded­i­cated and car­ing teach­ers. We also had young, en­er­getic teach­ers who were trea­sured by the older ones and ben­e­fited from their men­tor­ing and sup­port.

This should not be about “us vs. them,” but about the chil­dren, who de­serve our very best.

Ra­mona Saenz


Luis Sinco Los An­ge­les Times

TEACH­ERS with United Teach­ers of L.A. rally to press for con­tract de­mands in down­town L.A. in Fe­bru­ary.

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