Letters to the Editor

Readers write about public schools offering mentors to teachers, merit pay for teachers, solar power, and Islam and government.

Public schools must offer mentors to new teachers

I read with interest the Aug. 30 article, "How should teachers be graded?," and recall that for the 45 years I have been in education, I have been evaluated each year by principals, supervisors, or colleagues in five different states.

I am amazed that some states do not require annual evaluations. Mr. Tom Carroll – the president of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future – is correct in his remarks that it is "unacceptable conditions" that drive teachers out. As he said, "...you can turn this problem around." In my research I have found that many new teachers will sign contracts with schools that offer a mentor. This is in line with what Boston and Chicago have found.

New teachers will even pass up a higher salary to work in a district that offers coaching and mentoring. Let us hope that more districts understand that new teachers must have leadership and help when they first enter the classroom. Collegiality is of utmost importance if we are to attract the best teachers or if we are indeed going to have highly competent instructors teaching and directing our students. Salary alone is not likely to improve student grades over time.

Mary Sanders
San Angelo, Texas

Merit pay for teachers helps students

I found the Aug. 27 editorial, "A good mark for teacher pay," brought up an interesting debate. As a career educator, I could not agree more that the time has come for teachers to rethink the single-salary schedule that continues to prevent differentiation for accomplishment, a willingness to assume leadership roles or work in high-need communities. Accomplished teachers possess a nuanced understanding of the classroom that can be used to inform effective policy. Administrations and school boards need to make a conscious decision to elevate the voice of teachers in the process.

Bill Ferriter
Cary, N.C.

Let solar power lead to a new lifestyle

Regarding the Aug. 30 article, "More people, more concrete, lots more heat in Phoenix," about the soaring temperatures in Phoenix, I think one way to alleviate the heat in any location is to install many solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity. That will also ease the need for more coal-fired plants to generate electricity.

The technology exists to ease the problems we have created, but we must begin to think in new patterns and change our lifestyle. With small measures we can fix these problems and create more locally generated clean electricity and locally grown food. To have a greater effect, everyone needs do their part and to change customary work patterns to put our technology and knowledge to work. Our consumer-driven way of life has harmed the earth and the environment, and we must all find the solutions with the available technology.

Jon Remmerde
Bend, Ore.

Compatibility of Islam and government

The Aug. 30 Opinion pieces, "Four views on Islam and the state," addressed whether Islam could support a secular, democratic government. I think that Islam is a way of life where state and religion cannot be separated. Separating any religion from the state is hypocrisy, there will never be a system where that concept can exist. Every country, including secular nations, is run by the people who are in the majority, and everybody is affiliated with a religion to some degree.

I think these Opinion pieces as a whole failed to understand what Islam and the Koran truly teach.

Arshad Ahmad
Mansfield, Ohio

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to Readers Write and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail OpEd.

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