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Parents, not teachers, are key to kids' learning

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

I have had the pleasure of volunteering in a kindergarten class for four years as a teacher's helper to help with reading, writing, colors, numbers, etc. The teacher is responsible not only for academics, but teaching social aspects, observing all important holidays and keeping order among 20 children. She also spends some of her inadequate salary to buy things for the class.

The fault is not with the teachers, it's with the parents _ the parents who have never read a book to their child. Instead of watching TV, talk to your child about school. Help him or her to write his or her name, to be able to count to 10, to learn the alphabet and most important: read, read, read.

Elaine Belkin, Clearwater

Watch teachers in action, then judge

Re: Teachers are the reason for poor education, letter to the editor by G. Lesmeister of Largo, Jan. 20, and Can't quit teaching, story about retired teacher James Feazell, Jan. 4.

It seems letter-writer G. Lesmeister needs to spend time in the schools to see what is going on with our students. I am a white female graduate of Largo High and a former student of Mr. Feazell. You could not ask for a better teacher, one who would go above and beyond the call of duty with his students. This teacher would stay after school numerous times helping students with their classwork. It didn't matter whether it was math, English or American history. He has always been there for his students.

So, if he is recruiting teachers or helping our school system in any way to teach our children, let's only hope they are as caring and as dedicated to our students as Mr. Feazell is.

As for police officers having to be assigned to schools, blame that on our local drug dealers and politicians for allowing drugs in our community, and the parents for not teaching family values.

The school guidance counselors are there for the students for any reason _ personal problems, getting information on SAT and ACT test dates, information on colleges and universities _ so when the students go to work they can pay for your Social Security check and Medicare (which won't be around for them to collect).

So the "truth" is, G. Lesmeister, we have amazing students in Pinellas County schools who will one day support you and help run this country of ours.

I suggest you go and volunteer at the local school and see these wonderful teachers and bright students, and then you may give your opinion.

T. Meyers, Largo

Seven real roadblocks to education

It is G. Lesmeister's kind of thinking that is the reason for poor education.

I have been a teacher at just about every level in the public school systems. I retired as a writer of teacher exams and state student exams, as well as being a supervisor of English teachers.

I can state without reservation that the majority of teachers I have been associated with over about 48 years are hard-working, dedicated people, both young and old.

The real problems can be listed as follows:

1. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union that support deviate, acting-out students, taking away all real authority to control these types.

2. Liberal courts that maintain that a student is entitled to be in a classroom regardless of his disruption of other students.

3. People like Lesmeister who knock teachers instead of supporting them.

4. Parents who do not instill in their children the value of education and the need to treat the school community as their greatest avenue for success.

5. The belief in egalitarianism _ the idea that all students are created equal; therefore, they should pass the same tests regardless of their innate mental capacities. With this thinking, every student in physical education should be taught well enough to join a Major League sports team.

6. The concept that every child is college material. Society denigrates those who have other types of vocational skills.

7. Lesmeister's concept that teachers should be policemen even in the hallways. I am presently a teacher in college, teaching many teachers. Colleges have a security force to patrol hallways. No college teacher would consider himself a hallway patrolman. This concept that the teacher should be a patrolman in the schools is archaic. There are often violent students in these halls capable of doing great physical harm to any teacher who tries to intercede. This is the job of well-trained safety officers and police.

Yes, G. Lesmeister, the job of the teachers is to teach "reading, writing and math to our children." This is what they are trained to do. Let those who are professionally trained safety officers maintain discipline outside the classroom. Let the courts and other authorities remove those who disrupt learning _ permanently.

Then we will have teachers who are allowed to teach _ and schools that we can be proud of.

Robert T. Marsh, Largo

Fifth-grader: Teachers do their best

I'm a fifth-grader at San Jose Elementary School in Dunedin. I don't agree with the person who wrote that teachers no longer teach. My teachers do their best. I've come so far in the past two years because of caring teachers and great parents.

That's the problem. Without good parents teachers fight an uphill battle. As for money, that's an issue for everyone, even me with my allowance.

Richard O'Connor, DunedinFault lies primarily with parents

G. Lesmeister made some good points, but the problem cannot be placed solely on the shoulders of educators. Yes, a few of our educators are more concerned about themselves and their careers, but there are more parents in our community concerned with the same. These parents are abdicating their parental responsibilities, and the author of the letter indicates as much, but draws the wrong conclusions.

The increase of social workers and law enforcement officers in the schools and the lack of discipline meted out by teachers are not because teachers are not teaching, as suggested by the author of the letter. It is because parents have stopped parenting!

Discipline, good social behavior and a willingness to learn start at home. A failure of the parents to promote these aspects of our society cannot be laid at the feet of our educators.

The emphasis by our educators on the "politically correct stuff," as the letter writer states, and the lack of emphasis on "reading, writing and math," as the author pointed out, is not entirely the educators' fault either. The fault lies primarily with the parents. The self-absorption with their own careers and lack of committed interest in their offspring's upbringing and education is a far more potent problem than a few teachers looking out for themselves.

This problem is a community problem. Either the teachers and parents work together or the children will suffer.

Are there bad teachers? Yes, but there are far more passive and uninvolved parents. If the logic of the author were followed to its final conclusion there would have to be one good and moral teacher _ with full authority to not only teach but also be unfettered in their disciplinary actions _ for every student. Such an option is fiscally not possible.

The cost cutting starts at home. If you want fewer social workers in the schools, talk and listen to your kids. If you want less criminal activity and behavior in school, then teach your kids right from wrong at home. This would leave more time for educators to educate.

Chris Tauchnitz, Oldsmar

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