Letters to the Editor

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EDUCATION: Is Betty White too old to teach?

Letter by Elizabeth J. Breen, Tacoma on May 14, 2010 at 4:56 pm with 5 Comments »
May 14, 2010 4:56 pm

I was watching Betty White on “Saturday Night Live” recently and was amazed at her versatility, energy and knowledge of her craft. She was in almost every scene and broke every stereotype of the “little old lady.” It was reported that she partied until 3:00 a.m. at the cast party, and then caught a 6:30 a.m. flight to Los Angeles.

For some reason, I thought about the article about the plight of young teachers in local school districts (TNT, 5-9) who are being transferred from their schools or even laid off because of the seniority system embedded in most teacher contracts.

The suggestion in the article and letters commenting on it was that only young teachers could relate to students and enjoy their affections. Older teachers (those over 30?) were tired, burned out and disengaged. No mention was made of the value of experience, expertise and knowledge of the subject.

Poor Betty. If she applied for a job in a local school district to teach theater, comedy or television writing and mentioned her age (88), her application would probably be relegated to the circular file.

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  1. Kevindot1 says:

    She sure was funny on SNL!!

  2. frankiethomas says:

    Elizbeth that was not the point of the article AT ALL. The point is that the most senior techers should not be kept and the youngs culled on the basis on seniority alone. The articel was not saying get rid of all the old teachers – it was saying don’t get rid of the new ones just becsue they are new – lets take a loook at the big picture. If their are senior teachers who are ineffective, get rid of those, but becsue of the contract with the district, that is not an option.

  3. The state of the art of evaluating teachers is in its infancy right now. Just like Betty White is not great just because of her age or years of experience, teachers are not good just because they have long years of tenure. However, other measures of teaching ability have not shown to be very accurate or fair, either. Scores on standardized tests as a way of measuring teachers has shown to be flawed and penalize teachers who are assigned to challenging schools or classes. Other measures have fallen short, too. However, I think it is up to the school district not to be complacent in this area and research all available options to present to the union. In my opinion, having done a cursory review of the literature available on line, I think seniority, observation by an experienced panel and test achievement by students may all be needed to evaluate performance.

  4. Dear frankiethomas, I love your opinions but you do need spellcheck.

  5. frankiethomas says:

    Olemag that post was particularly bad. I do apologize. I so wish they had an edit feature. I prefer to type fast and then fix, but sometimes I hit submit before fixing! And I really should have had more coffee this morning.

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