Letters to the Editor

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EDUCATION: Home life has major impact, too

Letter by Bill F. Nerin, Gig Harbor on March 2, 2011 at 10:11 am with 21 Comments »
March 2, 2011 1:17 pm

I read Bill Gates’ article (TNT, 3-2) about producing great teachers, stating “the single most decisive factor in student achievement is excellent teaching.”

I thought that makes sense.

Then I read the Your Voice by M. Morford’s (Morf) on the next page. He has been a teacher for more than 25 years. He describes the difference between the world he grew up in and the world of many of his students. The impact of a stable family and economic life is crucial for learning.

Student achievement is caused not only by good teachers, but by the home and culture one grows up in. And of the two, I would say that the latter is more important than the former. How is it that in a class of underprivileged students, a minority of students can excel and the rest do not? Is it due to the teacher or one’s culture back home?

Gates and Morford should team up to solve the problem.

Leave a comment Comments → 21
  1. One of the major, yet simplest, things a parent can do is to read to their young kids. The next is to let kids see you read.

  2. xring — You bet! I don’t buy that parents with lower education can’t have a positive influence on their kids’ education. Kids naturally want to do well, and are interested in everything. If you read to and with your kids, even at a basic level, the kids will run with that momentum.

  3. JudasEscargot says:


    go to the 4:49 mark on the video and hear from a retired teacher

  4. Great letter-but I think the point of Bill Gates’ piece was changing what we can affect in the teaching system. The educational system is not going to be able to change the home life of the children. But we can get rid of the bad teachers, reward the good teachers, and change our system from one based solely on seniority and educational degrees…..

  5. Just because you are a billionaire doesn’t make you an expert on education. In fact, Mr. Gates is wrong. In any teaching/learning situation 70% of the success in learning is contingent upon the LEARNER.
    A teacher does not open a portal in the student’s head and pour in information. Even an excellant teacher can not make a student learn.
    If we want to improve education we need to make sure our citizens have livable wages, job security, and health care. Hungry and sick children can not learn.
    I am a retired public school teacher and currently work as a consultant. Now for all the rightwingers in here who will more than likely have something to piss and moan about remember… the uneducated hate the educated.

  6. sue — You finally wrote something I agree with! First, learning belongs to the learner. A great teacher can inspire and create interest, but it’s up to the learner to embrace what is being presented. With exceptions, even great teachers cannot get through to kids who are not physically and mentally ready to learn. Second, what’s with this Gates guy? What makes him think that just because he knows how to make a bazillion dollars that he is an expert in the field of education?

  7. SadujTogracse says:

    A lackey on the “Ed Schultz” show is hardly proof of anything. Now let’s get to the real issue. It takes quality teachers, involved parents, and a challenging curriculum to improve our educational system. Throwing money at schools and hoping that will improve them has been a failed policy. We must identify and rid the schools of incompetent teachers, no matter what the unions say.

  8. JudasEscargot says:


    That “lackey” paid her dues with three decades of service in the field.

    Did you pay attention (why am I even asking this question?????) to the issues that she had to face over and above “educating children”?

    Is the “incompetent teacher” the one that got shot or stabbed?

  9. Saduj — If we rid the schools of incompetent teachers and ensure a challenging curriculum we will still be missing a KEY component — involved parents. If you can figure out a way to get parents to turn off the TV, read to their kids, put down the bottle or the crack pipe, get their kids to school every day, serve nutritious food instead of junk, etc. etc. etc. you will have solved our nation’s education problem.

  10. “We must identify and rid the schools of incompetent teachers”

    You haven’t even identified these incompetent teachers, SadujTogracse? You only know that they’re out there.

    Why don’t you give us some idea of just how many teachers are incompetent, maybe a percentage, or a head count.

    Give us something tangible instead of more right wing vagary and witch hunts.

  11. SadujTogracse says:

    Judas- due to many reasons which would take too long to get into, I believe nothing Mr. Schultz says, does, or any so called “guests” that appear with him. The man is a charlatan.

    ronniew- yes I agree with you as I stated in my comment parents must be involved as well.

    Polago- I have spend many years involved with various school districts. Incompetent teachers are all around, most everyone knows who they are, even the students. The problem is they are allowed to remain teaching and the children do not grow, are not challenged, and therefore do not learn.

  12. “Incompetent teachers are all around”

    Yep, more vagary to try to substantiate this witch hunt.

    I’m not saying that there are no teachers whose competency shouldn’t be questioned. I’m asking for numbers.

    What are we dealing with, 1%, 10%, 50%?

  13. “most everyone knows who they are”

    So tell us who they are.

  14. SadujTogracse says:

    Polago I will not join in your silly games. I have pointed out many underperforming teachers to administrators in my time. I’m not going to post their names on this website just to make you happy.

  15. So, I’m supposed to take the word of someone who claims to know something about something that I don’t know.

    Why do you consider my asking direct questions to be “silly games?”

    Aren’t we supposed to get to the bottom of this? How are we supposed to know which witch is which?

    This isn’t about making me happy, this is about finding out, to what extent, this problem that you say is “all around,” exists.


  16. SadujTogracse says:

    And I would say to you, don’t look to me. Get involved in your own school district, pay attention to what’s going on. Listen to what other parents and students say about their teachers. Are the students learning at an acceptable rate? If not why? This is what I have done in various districts that I have lived in. I cannot speak for districts that I am not involved in, I can only speak for the direct experience I have accumulated over the years.

  17. “don’t look to me”

    I am looking to you, Bizarro. You made the vague claims.

    I’ll have to consider them to be false accusations until you can provide something to back them up.

    Do they have weapons of mass destruction, as well?

  18. SadujTogracse says:

    I don’t know why you are attacking me in such a way. Is it because of my middle eastern name? I fail to see what I have said that is so wrong. I am just wanting parents to get involved and teachers to be held accountable. It is something I believe everyone should agree upon.

  19. “Is it because of my middle eastern name?”



    “We must identify and rid the schools of incompetent teachers”

    Yet, when I ask you to identify them you accuse me of playing “silly games.” Now you say that I’m attacking you.

    Look at your so called “middle eastern name.”

    Who’s playing the silly games?

  20. SadujTogracse says:

    LOL! Kudos to Polago. I was thinking it would be a week before anyone figured it out!

  21. Education is one of those areas where lay people tend to think they understand well because they themselves went to school. That is the problem with our education system … it isnt run by educators. To demean and denigrate teachers is very sad commentary on our society in general.
    It is clear that the rightwing has an agenda to eliminate public education.I find this so stunning when you consider the history of public education and how it came about. It was the religious groups who started our education system, especially education for children with disabilities. Martin Luther is the one who said the masses need to be able to read the scriptures themselves! This was the impetus for public education. Funny that the rightwing with all their posturing christianity are the ones set out to destroy public education and set in motion the regressive system of educating only the rich again.. hopefully it will include women this time.

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