Las Vegas Sun

March 6, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Teachers being unfairly targeted

Let’s stop the teacher bashing. I’m tired of vouchers and merit pay. What other sector is merit pay discussed? Union construction workers, Culinary people ad infinitum.

If a child comes from a single-parent home and his or her parent is struggling to make ends meet, what is the incentive to even go to school when the child’s classmates come up to him or her and say, “We’re cutting today; are you in?” Whose job is it to monitor these kids? Not the teacher’s. If a kid doesn’t want to learn, he won’t. So stop throwing the ball in the teachers’ court all the time and check up on the home situation.

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  1. I studied to be a teacher and worked as a teaching assistant in the LA Unified School district. I have alot of admiration and respect for teachers and what they do.

    I reached a point where I was very reluctant to vote for more more money for education, not because I lost respect for teachers and what they do, but because I saw first hand how school systems are horribly top heavy with administration and how money that should be directed to teachers and classroom activties is directed everywhere but there. That was true with LAUSD and it is also true here in Las Vegas Nevada.

    If that were not so true, it would be alot easier to get my support when education asks for more taxpayer dollars.


  2. Typical socialist drivel: everyone, regardless of how much he or she contributes, gets the same results. Wonderful but ignorant. I worked with people like that and it wasn't pleasant. Most of my working life was spent as a business owner or as a commission salesman and I always got was I was worth. As a new car saleman that meant nearly nothing. Since I was a lousy car saleman, I quickly moved on and found a niche in which I was much better and my financial position improved immensely. I guess those favoring "one-size-fits-all" paychecks are "lousy new car salesmen" and want to live off the know how, experience and hard work of others. They are called Communists" or "Socialists" and who needs them? Not the self-confidant, self-reliant and self-respecting.

  3. Thank you for the insightful letter, Kipp Altemara! For those who are in the educational industry, working directly with students and their families can also be added work: social work.

    Rarely do those educators who also are, in essense, performing "social work" as well, receive merit pay or bonuses, acknowledgement, affirmations, and never commission. Sadly, some cannot view this as a "people business," one which is focused on the education and positively directing of fellow human beings. It is work that not only involves the passion to impart knowledge, to educate, but to see to the care, welfare, and safety of students, but also inspires and creates the positive outcomes in the individual student wholistically. It is up to the learner to PROFIT!

    The political climate has created a rather hostile attitude towards teachers, one that is not balanced in its view. The level of respect society has for its teachers directly affects students and their motivation. When families don't adequately support their childrens' education with home reenforcement practice of taught concepts as reading, writing, math, and even electing to do family time at a cultural center, outdoor preserve, museum, or exhibit, instead of video gaming and texting, it erodes the value of what is being learned for that child.

    Then there are the social skills that should be taught in the privacy of the home. Many children come to school not possessing the necessary manners that will carry them through life and being successful. Teachers end up losing valued instructional minutes due to disruptive, inappropriate behaviors of such students. Then teachers get blamed over students not mastering concepts, when it is up to them to OWN their educations.

    PARENTS are a child's first teacher. Public educators or teachers provide that special "added value" and support. This should be a working together, jointly focused on seeing a child through to their optimal best in life and greatest success.

    Blessings and Peace,

  4. Tanker1975 explains: "Last weekend, at a neighborhood Super Bowl party, one of my neighbors asked me a very simple question which caused a look of panic on my wife's face. I was asked a very simple question, "What does a teacher make?" I thought for a minute, and then I answered the question. I'm not sure that I answered his question the way he expected, but I think it was an accurate response.
    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher makes a young reader rush home to share the first book they ever read without a grown-ups help. A teacher helps instill a life-long love of reading, exploring the world without leaving home.
    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher shows students that history is not the memorization of dates, places and people. It is looking at what was, what is, and what may be because of the past. It opens the child to understand how we got to where we are today.
    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher makes a child understand that writing is not OMG and BFF. Writing is the expression of an idea, a concept, a telling of a story, it is the joy of creating something that belongs to them alone.
    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher helps a student to understand that science is not theoretical, but is real and practical. It is why a car moves, why a plant looks the way it does, and how animals and plants interact to make the world a place to live in.
    "What does a teacher make?" A teacher shows a student that math is not a mystery of symbols and numbers. Math is the study of patterns and relationships that allow the development of new ideas and technology. Students will learn that math impacts every aspect of a student's life. Mastery of math allows a student to open the potential of the future.
    "What does a teacher make?" Teachers make the future, what do you make?"

    Blessings and Peace,

  5. Public schools protect communities, ensure an educated voting populace, and are the main hope of trying to promote civil rights in every community in America. Public schools are the foundation and teachers are warriors on the front lines.

    There is a war on education. Nevada is starving its schools of funding and then wondering why improvements are NOT being made?

    There are those out there who are paid to promote the lie that teachers are living on the government dole, we are on "welfare", taking that which we don't deserve. That somehow despite insurmountable social ills - teachers are the problem. Race, poverty, and disenfranchisement are being placed squarely at the feet of our schools. Fingers are pointed at a lone person in a classroom of 30+ students when they cannot overcome overwhelming odds.

    Teachers don't give up on you - why is our community giving up on us?

    Let me be clear. I teach people to read - PERIOD. I did not bankrupt the state. I did not mismanage tax payer money at anytime. I did not hurt or damage a student on purpose. I don't live extravagantly. I don't make 6 figures. I did not enjoy the "boom" years that most in Vegas did. People like me are the heart of every community and the soul of the nation.

    When a community allows politicians, legislatures, and big-money-bought PR to take control of the voice in mainstream media and repeat the spew that teachers are the source of all our financial and social problems . . . I have to start wondering. . . who benefits the most from killing public schools?

    The answer: someone is making money. Someone would LOVE to privatize our public schools and/or make everyone pay to educate their own children. Someone would love to kick high skilled and educated professionals like teachers in the neck until they quit or succumb to the droning incessant testing mandates and burdens too heavy to bear that are becoming the norm in our district and across this nation. Someone would love to take the foundation of America away for the working class - piece by piece until we are all illiterate serfs.

    THINK PEOPLE THINK! Teachers are NOT now, nor were they EVER the enemy. Look around . . . who benefits the most if public schools are dead?

  6. Every parent should have mandatory time at school every month helping the teacher. So many send the kid to school like it was a babysitter job. Foss, what would you say is the best fix for your comment?
    ""They just don't leave the Country Club to visit public schools at all ... they know nothing of the innocent kids who have NO upbringing at home and are turned over to the school for everything. The teachers, I should say.""

    Please post your solution to the problem you posed.!
    How you plan to fix the no up bringing at home and how is it the people who join a country clubs' fault? It is not their kids, eh?. Are you saying poor people are bad parents?

  7. I must disagree to some extent with the letter's conclusion.

    I think it is a teacher's primary duty, especially in the first few grades, to instill a desire to learn, a love of learning if possible. Yes, parents must do this too, but when the parents fail in this the teacher still has this responsibility as part of their job.

    I understand that this can not be achieved in every case, but that does not mean that duty is not there.

  8. Tanker1975,

    I can think of one example of what I would call a bad teacher.

    I was a senior at the time, and had an English teacher who would grade my papers down, usually an "F" or a "D", because my political views differed from hers. Thankfully my parents raised an issue over this and the principal agreed with them. I received a "B" instead of the "F" that teacher had intended.

    On the other hand, that same year, I had what I think was an example of an outstanding teacher for my political science class. Although he disagreed with me (as did almost every other student in my class) he would take my side in debates and help me present the best argument possible. I learned a lot from him. (And I changed some of my views based upon his helping me as he did.)

  9. As some of the Commenters pointed out, yes, there will always be some bad apples in the barrel. The example Boftx provided of a teacher who unethically graded him based on anything other than his work product, would definitely be considered a bad apple. Boftx is absolutely right about it being a teacher's duty to motivate, instill the thirst to learn, even provide the tools to carry out learning. I might add, at ALL grades, including post secondary education.

    Joseph Schillmoeller assumes all teachers 100% support all teacher association decisions and actions with, "But for teachers to not take the responsibility for the poor and apathetic members of their union makes them look absolutely ignorant....". The truth is there are many teachers who "take the responsibility" for membership by attending meetings, dialoging, and voting. The process may seem slow, like most any organization, but it does exist and happen. Perhaps Mr.Schillmoeller can enlighten us on his definition of what, according to his dictionary, are "the poor and apathetic members of their union..." so that his concerns may be better addressed. His statement paints a broad stroke and is somewhat vague.

    Truly, I understand the sentiments of many who prefer and value private schools, as I had once my own children educated there, and I did, in fact, work teaching in such a system. Private schools afford selective population management, which makes a HUGE difference versus public schools. Also the curriculum and demands for strict adherence of academic standards and a student's performance are also marked differences. You will see much greater parental support, both for the student and the school, and this is usually expected contractually for a student to remain at such a school.

    Private schools have more latitude in general to run their organization as they see fit. This absolutely affects quality. If they fail, they go out of business.

    Tanker1975 knows that Clark County has had a significant shift in student population, reflecting changes in diversity and culturality of new enrollees. Research has found that the many coming into our schools, need extra time and support to learn and get the most from our educational services. Students who attend summer extended school return in the fall more ready and prepared to hit the road running. Can we afford to NOT change to requiring longer school year and hours? We are spinning our wheels now by not doing this.

    Blessings and Peace,

  10. Please be more specific, Ms.Roseanrose, pertaining to your comment, "If teachers can't teach, who need them? Why are we paying them?"!

    I respect and applaud your taking a stand in the comments, and usually you justify such comments. However, the above statement paints a vague/non-specific picture. Full-time teachers must undergo rigorous background checks and screening, subject to appropriate experiences, educational credentials, and interviews. Quite often, they are video-taped doing lessons as well as a part of their portfolio. Human Resources in school districts are RESPONSIBLE for the management of all teaching candidates, and the Board of Education does their final approval in the hiring process. Everyone in this process takes their responsibility seriously, and performs their part as diligently as possible. Can there be slip ups, yes. Thankfully, slip ups are few and far between.

    When I first came to Northern Nevada, there were "teachers" in classrooms who did not possess an appropriate college degree, nor had post-graduate credentials for teaching. It was things like this that later led to No Child Left Behind and having teachers who are certified as being, "Highly Qualified," to assure the public that the person teaching in the classroom has the safety background, education, and experience.

    Any PUBLIC school receiving public/taxpayer money must have certified teachers. What must be monitored, is the use of "substitute" teachers and school staff, as the policies do vary with location. Use of "substitutes" is much cheaper, as it is per day and no benefits. You can realize the great temptation for school districts to possibly abuse the use of "substitutes" to cut costs. Rarely, if at any time, does the public concern themselves with this practice, but if there is a concern about services, it is but one place to look.

    Make no mistake, there are far more dedicated, qualified, and caring teachers out there than the other sort. They see each child as a possibility, as promise, a potential, to carefully nurture and educate towards successfully blooming in the future.

    Blessings and Peace,