Letters to the Editor

Effective teaching goes beyond certificates

Poor schools get fewer top teachers | Aug. 3, story

Effective teaching goes beyond certificates

"National board certification" is viewed as the "gold standard." Where did this idea originate?

Board certification is not an indicator of effectiveness. It is an indicator of successfully completing a course of study. Teacher effectiveness cannot be measured by the number or types of certificates. Teacher effectiveness cannot be measured by standardized tests.

Teacher effectiveness can be measured only by assessing a teacher's relationship with each of his or her students. The teacher-student relationship is the basis of learning. Relationships are difficult to qualify and quantify.

Stating certification indicates effectiveness is just as silly as stating FCAT scores indicate achievement, or as silly as stating the brand name of the shoes worn by a football player indicates his effectiveness on the field.

Jim Bailey, Clearwater

Poor schools get fewer top teachers | Aug. 3, story

The larger problem

The report on bay area board certified teachers gravitating to the richest schools was good as far as it went. However, it failed to present the larger problem that poor schools have fewer teachers with advanced degrees, fewer library holdings, more black students, more poverty, and more noncertified teachers.

After eight years as a member of a school advisory committee, and two years as its chairman, I was shocked to learn that substantial numbers of teachers in our schools have been teaching without a legally mandated state license. Some of these teachers have failed tests required for a state license. Some teachers employed on a permanent basis have received waivers for years that are intended short-term for part-time experts from the community.

No one would accept professional services from an unlicensed doctor, lawyer or engineer. Why should we blindly accept educational care for our children from unlicensed individuals who are unable to attain the minimal qualification of having a state license to teach?

Parents need to be involved in our schools (PTA and SAC). They need to check the state Education Department site to be sure their children's teachers are certified (i.e. licensed) to teach. They must demand answers from school administrators and the Board of Education concerning issues of quality, a fair distribution of resources, and fully qualified educators in our schools.

Dr. David Johnson, St. Petersburg

School, students in need of support | July 31, editorial

Misdirected blame

This article implies that more needs to be done in the schools to help minority/poor students. Minorities in this country have been given access to free education as long as anyone else in this generation.

Why do we still put all of our criticisms where there is the least responsibility? I teach at a Title I school and we have better equipment, more access to training and many other "perks" that other schools don't.

What we don't have are students who bring a pencil to school. (Or the students throw them away when we give them one.) I average two parents on parent conference night (I have 130 students). We are told by the administration not to count homework too much because the students "won't do it anyway, so it will only hurt their grades." Unfortunately, this is true.

Yes, it is the student's fault. Yes, it is partly the parent's fault. And it is most definitely partly the fault of the prevailing rap/street culture that is so popular with our youth today. But our schools and teachers have gone above and beyond to try to help those who choose not to help themselves.

Just once I'd like to read: "The schools and the teachers have done more in these failing schools than in any other schools in the state. So the reason for failing minorities must lie somewhere else. We need to find those reasons and attack the problem there."

Jim Mullen, Tampa

Why did USF give up on charter school? Aug. 2, editorial

Look at home life

Could the reason this charter school received a grade of "F" be due lack of parental involvement, both at the school and at home? It is easy to blame the University of South Florida. You ask if they did a poor job of managing the school's money and if they were asleep at the switch. Then you ask if the reason could be that the state subjects the students to an unrealistic assessment. How PC of you! What is so unrealistic about being able to read and write?

Why not examine the environment that these students come from, where they spend two-thirds of their day? Why not ask if the parents sit down with their children at night, reviewing their lessons, helping them with their homework, and volunteering at the school? How many of these students go to school without breakfast, come home to a single parent (or no parent), live in an environment where drug and alcohol abuse is prevalent?

Spending more money on the school is not the answer. Holding parents accountable is the answer. These educators are not miracle workers. Maybe USF realizes what you don't: Until the environment changes at home, you are fighting a losing battle.

Don Sarvis, Safety Harbor

School proposal divides old allies | Aug. 1, story

A needed school rescue

This story about differences between Pinellas School Board members and the Pinellas Education Foundation trivializes a terrible problem of large numbers of Pinellas students not being properly educated and dropping out of school. This problem has existed for far too long and the foundation has had the courage and creativity to design and offer a plan to the School Board to reverse the waste of lives, time, money and opportunity. If you doubt the depth of the problem go to www.pinellaseducation.org and click on A Case for a Change in Pinellas Schools.

What is described is a sad case of shortchanging many Pinellas students and the costs of doing so. This isn't a case of a takeover of the public school system. It is an example of local business leadership identifying education problems in Pinellas, assembling data on the size of the problems and proposing a plan that may lead to solutions.

This is important stuff and caring people need to inform themselves of the difficulties and costs and then start asking why we allow this to continue. The plan of the foundation for reforming the school system deserves a hearing and test in practice.

James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg

Effective teaching goes beyond certificates 08/05/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 7, 2008 12:01pm]

    

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