Unfair to teachers
Mr. Lessenberry's attack on public education ("Save our schools," Dec. 1) is full of the same lies that have characterized this so-called debate. He talks about schools churning out "thousands of barely literate high school graduates" and hurting our economy. If he would do some research he would find out that, according to the U.S. Department of Education, reading scores and math scores are up for all grade levels since the NAEP tests began in the 1970s. For African-Americans, the increase has been huge, though a gap still exists. These persistent upward trends have been achieved despite the fact that we keep more kids in school than ever before. The high school completion rate for U.S. adults is 30 percent greater than it was in the1970s, at 88 percent. For African-American adults it is 80 percent, according to the Department of Education.
Internationally, the TIMMS study (Trends in Math and Science Study) compared 48 nations in fourth- and eighth-grade math and sciences. We were in the top 10 overall and had two to three times as many students placing in the highest achieving grouping as the international mean.
How did rising test scores, dramatically improving school completion, a narrowing racial achievement gap, and a disappearing gender gap become school failure?
I'm sick of being attacked as a public educator when we should be celebrating public education as an American success story! I know Lessenberry has joined the chorus that says we teachers only care about our "standard of living," but he couldn't be further from the truth. The teachers I know give more to students than he could ever imagine. I've known teachers who've done everything from buying furniture for students' families to buying clothing, health care and food, in addition to supplying inspiration, consolation and, not least, an education. To say teachers don't care is perverse. Though I must say, when my daughter says she wants to be a teacher, I ask "Why? Why do you want to be blamed for everything from our debt to China to the rate of incarceration? Why do you want to be lied about and caricatured in the media?"
She says she doesn't care because she loves kids and loves to teach. —Eddie Hejka, Detroit
Education for all
If we need to get serious about educating children, as Jack Lessenberry argues, we also need to get serious about educating all our children. Too often, school reform talk ignores a simple reality: Our schools remain segregated by race, and Michigan schools are the most segregated in the nation, according to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
School desegregation won't be easy. Some would say it's impossible, given the ignominious death it met in metro Detroit in the 1970s. But providing a good education for all children is the surest path to Michigan's economic prosperity. It's also our unequivocal moral duty.
Michigan's leaders are starting to see that trashing our largest city has been a suicidal gambit. Let's hope Gov.-elect Snyder and others also realize that "reinventing Michigan" requires ending separate and unequal schooling. —Joel Batterman, Ann Arbor
Praise for John
Re: "Plant life" (Nov. 24), long live Detroitblogger John! John is the man! That Packard Plant piece was awesome. How did he find out about them?
John is the shit. —Norman Greens, Berkley
Fire Millen ... again!
Re: Jim McFarlin's "Boob life" (Dec. 1), many thanks to McFarlin for calling out ABC and ESPN for their boneheaded blunder in giving that tool, Matt Millen, a microphone and a soap box from which to espouse his ignorant, irrelevant opinions. The negatives he must be in possession of to land his "job" must be terribly damning. —Dan Grady, St. Clair Shores
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