Having taught high school English for 35 years, I am always interested in articles on the state of education in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

I was also a paratrooper in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. I jumped 21 times, twice at night. Once it was so dark that for 10 seconds or so after exiting the plane, I couldn't see anything.

When I read that local school districts are placing untrained college graduates in hundreds of classrooms this fall ["Struggling Schools Are Desperate for Experienced Teachers," front page, July 29], I think that these young men and women would be better off jumping out of planes on a dark night. The experience would be about the same, although far fewer jumpers would fail. And these failures would not be harming anyone but themselves.

Few people know anything about jumping out of a plane. Far fewer know anything about teaching teenagers. They think they know because they used to sit in a classroom, or because they are parents of teenagers. But they have no idea what teaching a classroom of 22 to 28 senior high school students is like. And too often principals and superintendents forget what it was like.

Placing unprepared college graduates with no teacher training in local classrooms is not the answer to our problems. These graduates will last two, perhaps three years. They will tell exciting stories about their wonderful students. And then they will leave to work on Wall Street or get a job in government or go into computers. And we will be looking once more for the solution to the teacher shortage.


Silver Spring