Letters to the Editor. Education's underside

There is a dark underside to the rosy picture in the Dec. 13 article ``A school district with choices'' -- one that many school districts with ``option,'' ``magnet,'' or ``alternative'' programs find politic to ignore. I cannot speak specifically of New York City District 4's option plan, but I believe the situation created by the Seattle Public School's option plan is typical of what happens in many cities when ``choice'' becomes a factor in public education. The greatest flaw of ``option-choice'' plans (and the voucher system) is that one child's opportunity becomes another child's disadvantage.

By design, the Seattle plan lures students out of their assigned schools to more attractive ones. It stands to reason that those more advantaged by income, education, and family stability will be in the best position to take advantage of these programs. This energy and brain drain from schools left behind has led to low enrollments and even closure of some of the unfortunate ``have not'' schools in the district.

The article closes by saying that the pertinent question is not `` `Why are they stealing my students,' but `why are the students leaving?' ''

As a parent who has left an assigned school and chosen an option for her child, I'd like to answer that question. Seattle's option program caused my assigned school to be bereft of bright students, enthusiastic teachers, and supportive parents. Choice? I didn't feel I had one. Patricia A. Bliquez Seattle

As a veteran teacher and National Education Association member both chronologically and in length of service, I was interested in ``Teacher union stance shifting from picket line to professionalism,'' Dec. 9.

Most of the writer's comments concerning peer evaluation, improved standards for performance assessment, better preparation of teachers would not be gainsaid by thoughtful members of the profession.

The most sensitive point was the implication that collective bargaining is somehow pass'e. So long as physicians exert pressure via the AMA, businessmen by way of the National Association of Manufacturers, airline pilots through their brotherhood, etc., I would hope that teachers not become the only group in our society denied the opportunity to work in concert for the advancement of their economic interest. John Stouffer Hingham, Mass.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.