Letter to the Editor

‘Won’t Back Down’ won’t help solve education woes

I agree with Michael Gerson that lowering academic standards is not the answer to the achievement gap in our schools [“Lowering expectations of learning,” op-ed, Sept. 28]. However, as a high school teacher, I was disappointed that he used the movie “Won’t Back Down” as the basis for analyzing the problems in education.

Like many Hollywood depictions of public education, this movie lays blame on teachers who don’t care or are racist, and on unions that protect bad teachers. This is an oversimplification of the issues we face. Teacher-bashing and union-bashing won’t solve the problems, and neither will vouchers and charter schools.

The truth is, we do not know why there is such an achievement gap. We know some of the issues, such as poverty, poor teacher training, poor evaluation systems and disparities in parental involvement, but we have not been able to put together the puzzle. This is a complex issue, and it needs all of the concerned groups to work together to solve it, rather than pitting one against the other.

If we want to attract the best people to careers in education — those with potential to bring new ideas — we should stop bashing the profession. The best do not want to work in a profession that is disrespected.

Lisa Shapiro, Laytonsville

 
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