2001-05-12 / Letters

Seasoned Professional

Seasoned Professional

Dear Editor:

I was not going to answer Mr. Toms’ comments regarding my letter in The Wave, but after reading them again I could not let it go. He implied that I accused him of playing the "race card". I made no such indication in my letter.

In his article, Mr. Toms wanted the Board of Education to answer his question as to why the board is hiring European teachers over minority teachers presently applying for positions. He was not going to get an answer, so I offered some suggestions.

His article states that there’s "no problem with hiring a few here and there because diversity is a good thing…(the "few" means European teachers.) Then he writes, "…but students should also have a cultural connection to those who teach them …" because "…no one understands an African-American, Asian or Latino child better than someone who shares" their culture. This last quote can be applied to any culture, but his overall implication seems quite clear; a teacher not of a student’s culture cannot teach that student as well as someone sharing the same culture. It was this idea that I responded to in my original letter and as I wrote, it is an insult to good, honest, dedicated teachers.

Mr. Toms suggested that I missed his point and that I should challenge ‘seasoned professionals’ of the school system regarding his comments. Let me advise him that I was a tenured (now retired) NYC teacher for over 26 years during which time I almost had an eye removed when a mob invaded my school at the time of the Ocean Hill protests. I was a Guidance Counselor, Acting Department Chairman, Curriculum Writer, Dean of Students, member of the NYS Marine Biology Regents committee, and a Teacher Examiner for the Board of Examiners. I have a BA and MA in Science Education and hold a Fifth Year Certificate in Education, Administration and Supervision. I have held other positions related to education too numerous to list here, and I have taught students of more ethnic backgrounds than I can remember. The respect my students and I had for each other was exemplary.

As a professional educator I’ve seen the public school system slowly deteriorate due to parental apathy for their child’s education, lack of leadership and logic, the hiring of unqualified teachers and administrators, political infighting, and pseudo-educators who have a cure-all for everything that plagues the system.

So, Mr. Toms, I did not miss the point and, with all due respect to your suggestion that I challenge a seasoned professional, as you can see I am a seasoned professional. I do not have to challenge anyone.

STEVE YAEGER


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