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Jim Sturges

Regarding the Riordan and Parks article--frankly, I was puzzled. They made some important points about violence in the schools. However, frustration with school failure might not be causing the violence (i.e., other variables are probably influencing both school failure and violent behavior). Furthermore, the solutions they proposed were even more of a leap. Fire the teachers who are failing children? This sounds like shooting the messenger to me! Isn't it likely that many of the first-grade children in California having difficulty learning to read and write are recent immigrants and primarily Spanish speaking? Or, alternatively, come from impoverished homes that haven't fostered reading readiness? And do they really see the California Teachers Association (CTA) as an enemy? These folks are in the trenches, and are very concerned about resources for quality instruction. Because CTA is a watchdog for education resources, they are viewed as the enemy by those who need to cut costs. Yes, there are problems with evaluating teachers based on more testing of students, who in some schools will be lower-scoring through no fault of the teachers. Educators will tell you that the best way to help these students advance is to encourage good teacher candidates by making sure that salaries keep up with cost of living increases, to keep class sizes small, and to provide enough funding for decent books, equipment, and facilities. We can also continue to strongly support the California State University system that produces more than 60% of the teachers in the state.

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