Letters To The Editor


October 04, 2007

Union is teaching the wrong lesson

I am trying hard to hold on to my belief that the Baltimore public schools system has many good and dedicated teachers who are slowly but surely improving the quality of education for our city's children. However, my faith is seriously tested when I read that teachers oppose spending one of their planning periods per week to work collaboratively with colleagues or conduct professional development programs, as the school board and the city's new schools CEO have proposed ("Teachers union is taking on Alonso," Oct. 2).

There are shining examples of success in several public schools, not to mention dozens of private and parochial schools in and around the city. And the school system has already agreed to pay raises and improved benefits for teachers.

Yet the teachers union is calling for teachers to "work to rule" and seems to prefer that they do minimum work rather than learn from the insights and strategies local education success stories might offer.

This "work to rule" action will only hurt the very component of the system teachers are charged with helping - their students.

What kind of lesson are Baltimore teachers and their union teaching here?

Paul Ellis


The writer is executive director of the Children's Scholarship Fund - Baltimore.

Vote `no confidence' in selfish teachers

The city teachers union should be demonstrating in favor of using planning periods in whatever way will be best for students ("Teachers union is taking on Alonso," Oct. 2).

Instead, the planned picketing and advertisements show - again - that many of the teachers are interested only in working to the rule rather than working to improve Baltimore's education system.

I would offer a vote of "no confidence" in the teachers who don't want to go the extra mile, and a vote of strong confidence in favor of new city schools CEO Andres Alonso.

L. Rauch


Dedicated teachers need time to plan

I've been a Baltimore teacher for more than 10 years.

During that time, I have taught and mentored students to the best of my ability. I have worked with them during school, before school and after school.

I have given up countless weekends to grade papers, plan lessons, and accompany students to tournaments and extracurricular activities.

I have lost count of the amount of my own money that I have spent to supply my students with basic classroom supplies and offer them exciting lessons and labs.

In short, I have dedicated my life to teaching my students.

I am insulted that new city schools CEO Andres Alonso would imply that he is the only one who is "here to make great decisions on behalf of kids" ("Teachers union is taking on Alonso," Oct. 2).

Teachers are dedicated professionals who are doing everything in our power to help our kids. Planning time is an essential part of that.

Teachers use it to grade papers, meet with parents, set up for coming lessons or labs and organize our classrooms.

We need more of it, not less.

I agree that common planning time can help students. But it won't help if it comes at the expense of the little planning time we already have.

There are professional development days built into the Baltimore school schedule.

Why not dedicate some of that time to joint planning?

John Monahan


The writer is a teacher at Patterson High School.

Instructors impede changes city needs

Everyone must agree that Baltimore's public school system needs drastic change; after all, it has been failing our city's children for years. Now Baltimore has finally found a schools CEO willing to make the changes the system needs ("Teachers union is taking on Alonso," Oct. 2).

Andres Alonso is new to Baltimore. He is here as a change agent. He brings a positive attitude that has been infectious even to this reader, who knows him only through the media.

The teachers union, on the other hand, even if it is not responsible for the decline of the school system, has certainly been a steward of its decline.

A vote of no confidence by the union in Mr. Alonso, or even the suggestion of such a vote, shows that the teachers union is not ready for or perhaps is unwilling to make the changes necessary to turn the school system around.

Ephraim R. Siff


Public pays big price for the war in Iraq

Donald H. Horner Jr.'s column criticizing Americans for not being as "at war" as the military is overlooks the fact that all of us are paying dearly for the disastrous war policies of our current leadership ("Not a nation at war," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 28).

Here at home, bridges collapse, levees break, children go without health care, products are imported and sold that are unsafe, borders cannot be secured and we are told that there's not enough money to fix many domestic problems because we have spent half a trillion dollars on the Iraq war.

In addition, our rights to privacy and freedom of expression, basic to any genuine democracy, have been curtailed, and all because we are "at war."

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