Teachers who work with poor children deserve our respect and support

October 01, 2011

I empathize with Peter French's letter about the difficulties teachers in poor communities face ("Even without No Child Left Behind, teaching is debased," Sept. 29).

My family arrived in America penniless in 1969 and we lived in the slums of Brooklyn, where I trudged through broken glass and filth to get to school every day. So I know a little about the poverty of which he speaks, and the mentality that makes children growing up in its midst difficult to teach.

Too many parents behave as if they don't want to have anything to do with their children's education. Even if they could teach their child effectively, it might be something society would rather the child didn't learn. The kids grow up feeling bitter at their lot, distrustful of authority, and resigned to a life of deprivation and hardship. In many cases, their first opportunity to interact with a responsible adult comes when they meet their kindergarten or first-grade teacher.

I think society generally acknowledges that it takes far more skill and determination to teach in schools in poverty stricken areas. One has to be part psychologist, part drill sergeant and part educator. We should salute those who choose to teach under such conditions, not add to their burden.

Fred Pasek, Frederick

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