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The Value of Teachers in Public Education

I read the Opinion page article "Our Abandoned Teachers," Aug. 31, with interest. I suggest you do something radical and interview real teachers who go to school every day - teachers who are consistently barraged with media reports that they are the dumbest of college graduates.

I taught at a secondary level for 23 years. My second through fifth years, I taught in a school with cement floors, little playground space, no heat in the rooms, and few textbooks. But the students expected me to be wonderful, and the parents expected the students to be prepared for college. I knocked myself out for them, and now, at the 25th reunion I continue to hear appreciative reports of my influence in their lives.

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Then years later, I taught in a San Francisco Bay-area public high school. We had clean, well-lighted, well-heated rooms and appropriate books and materials. Students attended class as they felt like it; parents were uninvolved. No matter how dedicated I was, nothing would happen if the students expected poor quality in public schools. So I quit, got a PhD, and now I teach graduate school. Since many professors lecture rather than teach, I often hear appreciative remarks about my teaching skills. I'm rea lly a public high school teacher, but at that level I'm invisible because no one expects quality. Why is the United States unable to recognize quality in public school teachers and let them know they are valued? Peggy Alter, Berkeley, Calif.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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