Readers Write

Give merit pay to teachers where merit's due

I heartily disagree with a statement in your Oct. 31 editorial "What's a teacher worth?" The editorial states that "Teachers' products, in essence, are their students' achievements. There's logic in handing out raises accordingly."

A teacher's "work product" consists of the professional evaluation of his or her students' needs, followed by a knowledgeable education strategy (appropriate lesson plans and assignments, reasonably maintained environment, etc.).

If a student has no current personal crisis, is not disabled, and follows the teacher's recommendations, and the recommendations turn out to have been inappropriate for that course, then the teacher should be deemed incompetent!

However, if the student does not attend school, does not pay attention in class, does not complete his assignments, or does not seek help when clarification is needed, then we must assign responsibility for the poor outcome to the student - not the teacher, not the parents, and not the school system.

The job of the teacher is to teach. It is the job of the student to learn. Let's base teachers' pay on how well they do their job.

Annette Marcucilli Castaic, Calif.

Internet lacks human touch

I think Dinesh D'Souza is right in his opinion piece about online communities ("No substitute for the real thing," Oct. 30).

Chat rooms don't cut it. Sitting in front of a computer doesn't cut it. But loyal friendships, sacrifice, servanthood, and being involved with people and believing in them does cut it.

This is what Bill Gates meant when he said that whoever weds "high tech" with "high touch" (person-to-person contact) will rule the Internet.

Galen Manapat Lexington, S.C.

Nader's goal of electoral reform

Desperate Democrats and Vice President Al Gore are calling for Ralph Nader to quit the race and endorse Mr. Gore. But if Mr. Nader receives 5 percent of the votes, his party will receive $12 million from the government in 2004, which would enable him and the Green Party to launch another campaign to elect third-party candidates.

Democrats must understand that Nader is endeavoring to build a progressive third- party movement by empowering the Greens. His goal is to make the currently ruling parties accountable to the people and to convert the stagnant two-party system into a process by which proportional representation, rather than "winner take all," would be the basic principle of the electoral process.

Fred Duperrault Mountain View, Calif.

If Al Gore wants Ralph Nader voters to swing our votes to him ("Nader's voters: steadfast ... or switchable?" Oct. 30), he must do more than simply "highlight his green credentials" and try to scare us with the specter of a Bush victory. He must adopt significant aspects of Mr. Nader's platform, and perhaps pledge to appoint Nader to a significant post in his administration.

Jeff Johnson San Francisco

Cars in the sky? No thanks

It was with some disappointment that I read of Dr. Paul Moller's flying car ("What if your car could fly?" Oct. 27). This bad idea has been around for at least half a century; we should be grateful that it remains in the realm of science fiction.

There is a problem with mobility and with airport congestion, but the mantra for our meditation on this problem should be "high speed rail," not "car in the sky."

Ron Patterson San Rafael, Calif.

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