Regarding your Dec. 4 editorial, "Merit pay for teachers": It's good to see the Monitor discussing this issue. A good place to start would be to find a way to double the salary of all teachers.If you were a sharp young college graduate, would you choose to go into teaching when you could get a job in an industry paying more than twice what you would get as a teacher?
It's remarkable how this country continues to bemoan public school difficulties, yet is not willing toput up the money it takes to make it work.
Most children spend more time with their teachers than with their parents.Doesn't it make sense for us to provide teachers who are well trained, not only in their subjects, but in all the additional group-management and interpersonal-interaction skills required in today's society?
America needs educated citizens to make our nation run smoothly. And the basis of our education has always been the public school system.
Today's demands on our school system are greater and more complicated than ever before.Yet, we continue to rely on ancient thinking that perceives teachers as saintly, totally giving individuals who have dedicated their lives to the children, regardless of monetary compensation.But there are not enough totally giving individuals to solve our problems.
Terry Zaccone Saratoga, Calif.
Exit polls and butterfly ballots
Your Dec. 8 editorial "Exit polls, stage left" correctly questioned the use of exit polls to call early election results, but in doing so overlooked an interesting irony.
Exit polls in Palm Beach County may have been a more accurate reflection of voter intent than the actual vote count.
It seems clear that confusion over the butterfly ballot caused many people who intended to vote for Gore/Lieberman to either accidentally vote for Pat Buchanan or double strike their ballots for Mr. Buchanan and Al Gore, thereby disqualifying their vote. Thus, exit polls would register more votes for Mr. Gore than the machine or hand counts did. After all, exit polls reflect who the voter thought they voted for.
Those exit polls in Florida and the network's premature call for Gore were probably an accurate reflection of the voters' intent, undone by a poorly designed ballot.
Karen Ande and Jeff Johnson San Francisco
The democracy we shouldn't preach
Marina Ottaway's Nov. 29 opinion piece "Practicing the democracy we preach" brought to mind parental advice by George Bernard Shaw, "If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example." Substitute "fledgling democracies" for "your children" and voila - priceless advice for US democracy preachers.
Lorna Lippes Buffalo, N.Y.
The NFL 'gold rush'
Regarding Douglas Looney's Dec. 1 column "Upside-down thinking of NFL: Reward the losers": An excellent column, well reasoned. It made perfect sense.
Just one point I'd tighten up: Mr. Looney likened the struggle he'd like to see among NFL teams for dominance to the early pioneers crossing the Rocky Mountains, and he wrote that those who made it were "rewarded with gold in California."
Scant few of those who scrambled into California found gold, much less the mother lode. Far more died en route or turned back than ever struck it rich.
Mike McLeod Federal Way, Wash.
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