To the editors:
Elizabeth Blanchard’s piece [“Three Teachers Talking,” January 22] highlighted problems in the morale of teachers and the situation of their work. The situation is beyond our control; teachers might do a better job on another set of kids, but we need this set of kids educated. Morale, however, could be improved by some simple steps.
The latest strike was rooted in school administrators’ decision that there was money for administrators’ raises, but none for teachers’ raises. At minimum, supervisory personnel should be removed from the bargaining unit. This is standard in labor-management relations.
Good teachers get tarred with the failures of the system as a whole. We need to identify and praise–if we cannot reward–the best teachers left in the system. Objective identification of the best high school teachers may be harder, but the best grade school teachers could be identified through the “Iowa Test” scores.
Merely by correlating each student’s present score with his score in the two previous years, we can get a measure of likely advance for a student with a given test record. Then we can identify those teachers whose classes significantly exceed the advance for such students in Chicago. Of course, this would require outside volunteers to administer the tests.
Just how we should honor such teachers, I don’t quite know. But I suspect that individual communities would find ways if the school board would merely publish the facts.
I was shocked that each teacher knew successes (from a failure-heavy school) that the other teacher didn’t. If the successes of our school system were better known, (1) teachers would despair a mite slower, (2) younger students would have better models to emulate, (3) the successes themselves would feel a little support.
True, some of the system’s successes are published. Each year, the best senior football player tours the TV stations to announce his choice of college; the best senior basketball player does the same; and the National Merit winners are listed in agate type between the obituaries and the truss ads.
More publicity to individual successes, though, would help.