1. Archive

Critic of teachers should wake up and smell reality

Re: Teachers are the reason for poor education, letter by G. Lesmeister, Jan. 20.

I was astonished to find out from the letter writer that I am the reason students are "failing." When I write my lesson plans, nowhere do I write "politically correct." I plan to teach reading, math, science, health and social studies. I must also plan for community-based instruction for my mentally handicapped students.

The budget has been cut; we have many more students to serve with no more money. Students come to us from dysfunctional families. You can't teach if the child cannot listen because he's hungry, tired, beaten often or many other reasons beyond the control of educators. We deal with uneducated parents whose only contact is a threat to sue if we discipline their precious children. How do you teach reading effectively to a child who has never seen a book? Or a dentist?

We have a guidance counselor _ one for 550 students. She is also in charge of maintaining the staffing process _ that is, the process by which we serve children with disabilities. She finds time to have group sessions for anger management, began a "bully-proofing" program and sees children individually as needed. And she helps monitor the lunchroom. We have no police officer.

So, G. Lesmeister, please tell me where the real costs are because I am buying copy paper and pencils for my students. I bought the software that they use and the books that they read. Adjusted for inflation, I haven't had a raise in 10 years; I'm going backward.

Since you obviously haven't set foot in a classroom since the Stone Age, why don't you volunteer at your local elementary school? Come on down to Fairmount Park, my school, and see the wonderful learning and teaching that goes on every day. See the joy on a kindergartener's face when he reads a book for the first time. Watch the fourth- and fifth-graders as they plan their first science projects. Share the joy when a struggling fifth-grade reader is able to help his first-grade reading buddy. I guess helping children to feel good about themselves is "politically correct."

Then there is the "socialist agenda," which you never did define. Could it be helping children to accept differences in themselves and others? Keeping children safe by not tolerating bullying? Teaching children about other people and customs in other countries? It's got to be Black History Month, right? I guess you feel that's all we do in February. As I said before, stop in and see for yourself.

About my hours: I brought home a bag of work that I was unable to complete at school. I would rather teach my students than give them busy work while I complete tons of pointless paperwork.

And last, my perks. You are probably thinking about all my paid vacation. I'd love to have some. Unfortunately, I don't get paid for the time I am out during Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and summer. Summer _ that's when you get that second job. My paycheck is averaged over that time.

The best perk of all is spending time with some awesome kids who give me joy every day. They keep me coming in every day to a job that is difficult but so rewarding. People like you will never treat me with respect, but my students do every day. And the students, G. Lesmeister, are the only people who matter to me.

Nancy Schubart, Treasure Island

Blame our perverted society,

but God bless the teachers

Re: Teachers are the reason for poor education, letter by G. Lesmeister, Jan. 20.

After reading this letter criticizing teachers, I was appalled by the writer's lack of real knowledge of the problems facing teachers today.

Why are police officers needed in schools? They are needed to keep the perverts, drug dealers and pedophiles out of the schools, and to handle problems brought about by students under the influence of drugs or alcohol (sometimes supplied by erring parents).

Students enter school today carrying more than their books; they enter with weapons, drugs and alcohol. In addition, they carry emotional problems brought on by a variety of causes, mainly our perverted society that glorifies people like the accused pedophile R. Kelly and the likes of Britney Spears and her apparent alcohol consumption and lifestyle.

Then we come to parents, or the lack thereof _ parents who see the schools as a place to supervise and raise their children because thay cannot or will not. To talk about the failures of parents would take volumes. Many parents don't value education to begin with and impart that attitude on their children.

I am a retired teacher, with 31 years as a teacher of physics in a nationally recognized school in East Brunswick, N.J. It was apparent that student and parental attitudes were deteriorating in the late '60s and early '70s. Education was evolving into something for the elite; this is even more apparent today.

You cannot blame the classroom teacher who struggles each day to educate his/her students even though there are not enough supplies, the classrooms are dirty, the grass is not mowed, the students are late, students come to school without breakfast, there is no money for supplies, students are drunk or on drugs, or they don't want to be in school. It only takes a few disruptive students to destroy the integrity of a classroom, but despite this, teachers still get their students to pass the FCAT and learn.

The trouble with those who criticize teachers is that they have never taught; fortunately, they never will. All I can say is God bless all teachers.

George W. Pinfield, Clearwater

Educators care only about

ensuring students' success

Re: Teachers are the reason for poor education, letter by G. Lesmeister, Jan. 20.

I would like to invite the letter writer to come to our school, Clearwater High, and volunteer a few hours to see how a school is really operated.

We have a social worker and a psychologist who share an office, and each of them is shared by multiple schools. Our school alone has 2,200 students.

We have two police officers who have no staff. They have an office, but they are never in it. They are out on campus because they care about our student body.

Teachers are there to teach, not to discipline; that is handled by our assistant principals.

Teachers, social workers _ in fact, everyone at our school, including the principal _ all have their jobs. But then there are the club meetings after school, meetings with parents, sporting events, workshops _ I could go on and on with the extra duties we all take on to ensure the success of our students.

If anyone at the school was worried about pay or perks, he or she wouldn't be working in education.

Everyone I have met who works in education has one thing on his mind: student success. If that means extra hours or less pay, it doesn't matter. What matters is the success of our school, and that means successful students.

Nancy Sweadner, Clearwater

Mr. Feazell and his ilk

take this job and love it

Re: Teachers are the reason for poor education, letter by G. Lesmeister, Jan. 20.

In regard to your comments that the problem with the education system is the teachers, and in particular retired teacher Mr. James Feazell (story, Can't quit teaching, Jan. 4), I am not in the education system, other than working as a volunteer on occasion. However, I have three kids in public schools. You can always tell the kids whose parents are concerned about their child's welfare from those who are not. The problems are indeed the obvious ones: the lottery replacing the budget set aside, the entire FCAT issue and irresponsible parenting.

Teachers, Mr. Feazell especially, certainly do not do this for the money, but for the pure love of teaching. All of the teachers I've encountered do the absolute best they can with what they are given. I have not seen a teacher yet who doesn't spend personal dollars each and every school year to purchase teaching aids, supplies and books.

I am a former Feazell student from many moons ago, and everyone who comes in personal contact with him holds him in the highest esteem. I suggest, G. Lesmeister, that you go down and meet him, and perhaps bring a few much-needed school supplies to donate, instead of complaining about the "problem with teachers." Then you'd have the honor of meeting a true hero.

Christina Tarbox-Smith, Hudson

He cared from the moment

he stepped into a classroom

Re: Teachers are the reason for poor education, letter by G. Lesmeister, Jan. 20.

I must write about the letter regarding James Feazell. Clearly, the person blaming Mr. Feazell for only caring (about teaching) after retirement does not know one thing about Mr. Feazell or the mark he left on students. Mr. Feazell didn't begin caring after he retired; he became caring and concerned when he first stepped into a classroom.

The impact of this teacher on several hundred students can be felt over decades, and today, at the age of 40-plus, former students speak with admiration and thanks for all he did for them.

Teachers today have somewhat changed, but so have students. The blame, I am afraid, lies with us. I commend Mr. Feazell for caring about kids during his career and certainly after. Thank goodness we had him in my day. He made an impact on me.

One person can make a difference, and he certainly did.

Kim Deguise, Largo