I found Katherine Mangu-Ward's "Education Showdown" (May) to be a very informative and even hopeful review of the status of education reform. There was, however, one quote in the article that raised a major point she may have overlooked: Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers stated that "when education reform is done without teachers' input, it is doomed to failure."
There is no reasonable expectation that such teacher input can be constructively provided by or through teachers' unions. That source has only the interest of the union itself in mind and is not interested in representing valid classroom concerns. Union input simply does not equal teachers' input.
As a longtime teacher and teacher educator, I found that "Education Showdown" failed to deal with the most obvious reason for the failure of public schools to successfully educate low-income students. This is not basically the fault of teachers and their unions, as is claimed. The problem lies in the attitudes of the single mothers of these youngsters (their fathers are conspicuously absent). By and large, these women care very little about how much their children learn in school. Thus it is useless to argue that if these welfare females simply had "some say over where their children go to school," their youngsters' desire to learn would miraculously improve.
Professor of Education Emeritus
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA
Joel Klein seems to be on the right track, but he still advocates a one-size-fits-every-student scenario. I took calculus, geometry and algebra in high school because I knew it would present me with other opportunities later in life. Why does the state of Arizona use testing standards geared to kids going to college, especially when most of the legislators who want the tests can't pass them? The world needs auto mechanics, electricians, plumbers, and other tradespeople willing to do the work I don't want to do. A friend of mine started doing lawns and yards and within two years had a $100,000-per-year business. The college track isn't for everyone, and it shouldn't be.
Jeff A. Baird
The Post-Postal Society?
There are alternatives to "The Post-Postal Society" (May). Consider untapped revenue sources that could help the U.S. Postal Service avoid operating deficits and perhaps even turn a small profit. It could sell advertising space on the sides of mailboxes, on trucks, and inside and outside post offices; sell off some of its valuable real estate and move to less expensive locations; license corporations to sponsor stamps for a fee; and charge elected officials the full cost for their annoying bulk-rate mailings to constituents, which are nothing more than re-election campaign brochures subsidized by taxpayers. Future increases in the price of stamps should be directly tied to the consumer price index. Why not apply free-enterprise solutions to provide a more cost-effective product and reduce deficits?
Great Neck, NY