Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

Tag: teachers


SCHOOLS: Update system for substitute pay

Re: “Most school districts struggle to find substitute teachers” (TNT, 1-3).

Valid reasons for the substitute teacher shortage are cited, leaving one issue not addressed: the antiquated payroll system and schedule districts use. Substitutes in any classification may wait up to 60 days after they have completed an assignment to be paid.

Today, substitutes are paid for an assignment on the last day of the following month. Example: A substitute who works Sept. 4 will be paid for that day on Oct. 31, nearly 60 days after the assignment has been completed.

Districts still use paper time sheets for some assignments. When a

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PAY: Substitute teachers getting a raise, too?

Re: “(Seattle) OKs slow move toward $15 minimum wage” (TNT, 6-3).

It’s comforting to think that $15 per hour may become the new minimum wage. I currently make $16.67 per hour as a substitute teacher. This is after earning three degrees and working 37 years in the classroom.

I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m looking forward to the same proportional raise as someone who may not have even completed high school and has no responsibility other than for flipping hamburgers, scrubbing floors, pumping gas or working a cash register.

It would certainly be nice to finally see an increase

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SCHOOLS: Does teacher quality gap really exist?

A recent Viewpoint by Dan Goldhaber and others (TNT, 3-26) asked us to get serious about the “teacher quality gap.” They cite research findings that lower-quality teachers tend to populate schools containing higher percentages of disadvantaged students and this, he argues, is a major contributor to lower achievement test scores here in Tacoma and all across the state.

This article is based on a research study published earlier this year. Three measures of teacher quality are used: years of service, scores on a standardized exam required BEFORE a teacher candidate can enter a teacher training course in our state

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SCHOOLS: Teacher-student interaction always existed

Re: “Crossing the line online” (TNT, 5-23).

Social media and use of technology in itself may make it easier to see blurring of student-teacher interaction, which school districts have tried to regulate, but it has not targeted the true reason for sexual misconduct between teachers and students.

Before there was Facebook and texting, the teacher-student interaction blurring was just as easy when teachers lived close in the same neighborhood where they worked, had their children attend the same school they teach at, and interacted with students in local businesses. Many teachers allowed school field trips to their home years

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SCHOOLS: Do more to ID abnormal behavior

Having two separate teachers being charged with sex offenses in a week’s time proves there is a problem with the process the state and school districts use to screen teachers for unprofessional conduct.

Current “boundary invasion” policy targets certain grooming behaviors, but it does not target the exact source of why people are sexually attracted to young people.

The boundary invasion policy prohibits certain types of interaction – such as talking to students outside the curriculum and about personal issues –which can impair learning in students under that type of stress. What the policy does not target is the exact

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ABUSE: Is screening needed for teachers?

Much has been written about the sexual abuse that occurred in the Catholic Church in recent decades. There has been a great deal of vitriol aimed at the church for that abuse and how it was subsequently handled.

An objective look at the church’s response will show that many safeguards are now in place, including more stringent psychological screening of candidates for the priesthood. So why not require psychological screening for those wishing to enter the teaching profession?

Another high-profile arrest (TNT, 2-8) seems to suggest that too many new teachers are unaware of appropriate boundaries with students. If

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TEACHERS: How about parents’ responsibility?

Re: “Teacher killings highlight dangers of job” (TNT, 11-18).

A 2011 survey found that, in addition to some being killed on the job, 80 percent of teachers reported being harassed, intimidated or assaulted. The task force responsible for this study suggested that all educators be required to master classroom management before they are licensed to teach.

Wouldn’t it be great if the parents of the miscreants had bothered to teach their offspring proper behavior before they got to the classroom? Unfortunately, parents can’t be forced to take a class on parenting before sending the urchins off to school.


EDUCATION: State tests don’t exist in all subjects

The recent editorial about tying teacher evaluations to test scores (TNT, 8-19) leaves out some essential considerations. The state superintendent of public instruction, Randy Dorn, estimated that for as many as 82 percent of teachers, there is no state test for what they teach.

We spent many years in the classroom, and even that seems too low to us. The earliest state test occurs in the fourth grade, and there is no test for art, physical education and social studies, for example.

Some Eastern states have come up with a solution: Teachers can choose which test determines their evaluation

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