Planned teacher reductions a disaster in the making

March 15, 2011

As we await word of possible nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan, we learn about another catastrophic meltdown waiting to happen — in our school systems ("Balto. Co. high schools plan cuts," March 14).

How can our leaders believe that making cuts that will lead to an increase of 40 or more students in a classroom should take place? How can the policy of holding onto those teachers who are rated unsatisfactory and those who are untenured, yet moving the tenured and experienced teachers away from their posts, be anything but deleterious?

These policies will have far-reaching, long-lasting calamitous effects. If this sounds like hyperbole, just consider how those in our culture fare now who, for a myriad of reasons, have not received the attentions of caring adults, who are not literate, who cannot make simple math calculations, who do not adequately learn from history in order to make good decisions for their own futures, who leave schools without having learned job skills that will lead to productive, secure, healthy lives.

That population will increase by leaps and bounds. Everyone in our global chain will be severely affected by those many weak links.

We can stop this particular kind of meltdown, but first we must get our priorities straight. That does not mean spending many more millions of dollars on technology when we already have pumped many millions in that area. It does not mean adding costly administrative positions to any superintendent's staff.

Keep excellent teachers in their classrooms. Calculate the numbers so that they show the real teacher-student ratio for classroom teaching and make that ratio a sensible one that works. Rather than make teachers' already-challenging jobs that much more difficult, causing many outstanding educators to leave the field, do everything possible to attract the highly-qualified to pursue the noble field of teaching. There is little else of more importance.

Janet Steinberg, Baltimore

The writer is a retired teacher.

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