Don't Make Teachers Do Administrators' Job

The article "Teacher Unions: A Key to School Reform" (March 7) states that "ultimately [good teaching] requires that teachers make decisions about other colleagues, removing those who can't perform." If we want teachers to be competent, innovative, communicative education experts, they certainly cannot be competing against colleagues who are hourly and daily used to bounce ideas off, ideas related to not only standards, but to a truly difficult area of teaching - managing students for a successful learning environment.

Administrators push this idea of teachers removing teachers because it is a way out for them. But it is the administrators' job to hire, evaluate, monitor, encourage, and ultimately fire a poorly performing teacher and show reason for firing. This seems to be a very difficult task for most. Perhaps it is poor administrators we need to focus on when looking for ways to improve education in this country.

Mary V. Jones

Welches, Ore.

Making all of us want to help others

"Fighting Crime One Kid at a Time" (March 7) on Officer Calvin Hart is exactly what readers need: one decent human being at a time, and all the more that it is a man looking after future men. There is hope for overcoming the enormous forces against the human spirit. It makes all of us want to do something for others.

Fritz Weidner

Palermo, Maine

Religion prizewinner inspires

Your article "Religion Prize Goes to Unsung India Leader" (March 7) was an eyeopener - an eye-opener onto myself. How subtly skepticism, distrust, and anger seep into our psyche. In this country, where freedom and economic well-being for most of us is the norm, we are trapped in the increasingly pervasive mental vise of cynicism.

How refreshing to read of a person who is living his religion, rather than just talking about it. No person of conscience can find a Pollyanna existence acceptable. Yet on the other hand we allow ourselves to get caught up in the negativism of the day. Perhaps we can't change the world. But we can change ourselves, as Pandurang Shastri Athavale teaches - and that can be the start of a personal contribution to the well-being of all.

Taft Lowell

Arlington Heights, Ill.

No chicken in every writer's pot

"Storyteller Ladles Soft 'Soup' for Hardened Workplaces" (March 3) alludes to the success of the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books. Yet the treatment the real authors of the stories receive is less than inspirational.

Several months ago, I spoke with a woman who had her story published. Compensation was a very small flat fee. No matter how profitable the book became, she would never see another cent. Recently, I was solicited for stories for an upcoming version and told $300 was the flat fee.

Unfortunately, the sad state of pay for writers is not well publicized. The public thinks of the few who make it rich. When I do programs in the schools it is very hard to answer the inevitable student question, "How much do writers make?" How do you motivate a child when the answer is, "Most probably, if you become a writer you will not be able to earn a living wage."

Maybe the editors should compile a book for themselves called "Chicken Soup for the Profiteering Soul."

Arlene Williams

Sparks, Nev.

Memory's blanket of blue

The colorful and informative Home Forum story "Make Room for Bluebirds" (March 4) caught my attention. Perhaps because I have always been a friend and lover of bluebirds. (I still have your 1987 article called "Very Blue Birds." This should give you a clue.)

It has been so long since I have laid eyes on one, the story reminded me of a thrilling day in Riderwood, Md., when I happened to gaze out the window to see how my new lawn was doing. Instead of green, I saw a solid blanket of blue. It was a whole flock of bluebirds stopping for a rest during migration. I cherish this happy memory! Thank you for bringing it back to me.

Lucy C. Karwell

Camden, Maine

Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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