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Education chief should know teachers aren’t the problem

There is a bit of irony that State Education Commissioner John B. King Jr.’s comments on failing schools should appear in The News on the day after Leonore Tetkowski’s Another Voice column appeared with specific reference to the challenges faced by Lafayette High School and International School 45, two of the “priority” schools. She points out that “Most of the 900 students at the International School are refugees and speak 30 to 40 different languages. … Mastery on New York State exams is expected, although fluency in the English language takes years to develop.”

King attributes lack of student performance in low-performing schools to delays in implementing a new teacher and principal evaluation system. How convenient it would be to replace “ineffective teachers,” as judged by test results, with a platoon of super teachers who would teach ESL and other challenged students how to be excellent Regents test takers. One does wonder where the districts will find these super teachers in a climate where I have heard young teachers say they would have chosen another profession if they’d known how mandatory standardized tests have taken the joy out of school for both teachers and students.

On the same date The News published King’s comments, there was also an account of a “student tax credit” to help with private school tuition being proposed in the State Legislature.

It doesn’t take a great leap of logic to see the direction of the Albany education establishment: that is, to diminish teachers’ unions, shuffle students into private and charter schools, and pocket campaign funds from lobbyists for test-writing companies, charter school companies and religious school supporters. The public schools will remain as repositories for the most troubled students whom the private schools are not required to retain.

Janet M. Goodsell

Grand Island