Letters to the editor


December 04, 2005

As an Anne Arundel County teacher, I think the Polishing the Apple customer service training program is a ridiculous waste of time, and it sends the wrong message ("Being all-the-above-average," Nov. 13).

First and foremost, what do school officials mean by "customer service?" When I think of customer service, I think of sayings such as, "The customer is always right," and "We will do anything to serve our customers." When did I become a salesman, and who exactly is my "customer?" I am an educator. I work my tail off to educate my students, but they are not my "customers." I am not teaching to make them happy or win their approval. If my students are pleased that I pushed them and provided them with a rigorous education, that's great. If they're not happy about working hard, that's too bad.

Second, it is amazing to me that this customer service training is being pushed at the same time as discussions are taking place about teacher workload. Everyone says that teachers are overburdened, yet school officials are pushing this Polishing the Apple at teachers and telling them that they must do it. How can the school system justify this extra demand on teachers' time? At one of my schools (I teach in multiple schools), I watched as colleagues spent their planning time to do this training. They said that it would take about an hour to complete on their own. They worked together to speed things up. Are school administrators giving freedom from other tasks in order to allow teachers time to do this training? I don't think so - not in every school.

Third, I firmly believe in courtesy, and I believe that everyone should be treated with respect. If you knew me or saw me teaching, I'd like to think that you would say I clearly demonstrate these qualities. I realize that not everyone is so courteous, but I'm not sure you can train respect and courtesy. They come from within.

Anne Arundel County school officials should think a little harder before instituting such programs. Customer service training is an inappropriate use of teachers' valuable time and it sends the wrong message to our supposed "customers."

Kory Twit Ellicott City

The writer is a teacher for the Anne Arundel County public schools.

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