Education letters 11/2

Teaching is not a career for the weak-hearted

I have only two words for college teacher Alicia Howe: Thank you.

As a top student who chose teaching as my life work, I am called upon weekly to defend my choice. People assume that I did not want the challenges of law school or medicine.

There is no challenge greater than 30 young faces looking to you to lead them to a better life.

Jenny Harris, Smyrna

Focus on the classroom, not on the complaints

The long and whiney road that Alicia Howe took us down in her guest column is marred from its beginning.

A composition instructor at the college level should know better than to construct a sentence so terribly.

My advice is to use the test I was taught in seventh grade English ... remove “and saw” from her opening sentence and it miserably reads: “I recently went the movie ‘Fame.’ ”

Instead of ceaselessly crying about the workload and lack of respect, teachers should focus on their craft.

The “teaching” part is not an adjunct to their profession ... it’s the whole enchilada. Get it right or move on.

Bill McNew, Fayetteville

Georgia blocks smart people from classrooms

I was heartened to read the story of attorney Tom Dunn who decided to leave the legal profession to teach (“In a class of his own,” Metro, Oct. 26).

My only question is how did he manage it? I am also an attorney who wants to teach high school history and state and constitutional law/government, which is required by the University of Georgia system to graduate from college.

I fell in love with it when I taught two constitutional classes at a high school that was being taught (or at least shepherded) by an assistant football coach whose only governmental experience was casting ballots.

I have 20 years experience in the legislative and executive branches of government and felt that practical experience would be welcomed with open arms.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth. After a two-week search on the Internet and a dozen phone calls, I finally found the appropriate agency that could give me information concerning certification, only to be told that my degrees qualified me to teach only political science and special education.

I also have a degree in psychology and how that qualifies me to teach special needs children is a complete mystery.

I was also told that I would have to take multiple examinations (including a two-part pedagogical exam) to become certified to teach those two subjects.

There are a lot of highly educated men and women like Mr. Dunn who are willing to give up monetary success to pass along both education and practical knowledge that equals success in the real world, but the “old boy” teaching network only really wants education majors teaching school. LAURA E. TAYLOR, BUFORD

Kids can’t go to college if they’re far behind peers

The story “State colleges pitch education to Latinos,” (News, Oct. 28) says: “If Georgia’s public colleges are to succeed — and the state’s economy is to flourish,” college recruiters “must learn how to convince a growing group of students [Latinos], and their families, that higher education is a good deal.”

Such persuasion is the least part of the challenge — as indicated by Education Trust’s definition of the achievement gap:

“By the time [minority students] reach grade 12, if they do so at all, minority students are about four years behind other young people.”

Indeed, 17-year-old African- American and Latino students have skills in English, mathematics and science similar to those of 13-year-old white students.” (Closing the Achievement Gap, National Governors Association Clearinghouse, 2002.)

Tom Shuford, Lenoir, N.C.