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English Language Learners

Thank you for your article “Born in the U.S.A.” in the January/February issue. I am an ESOL teacher who teaches 50 students in grades K&endash;5. They speak eight different languages. I am also working on the dissertation for my EdD in Teacher Leadership. The focus of my research is how best to assess ESOL students for special education classes. I was so inspired by your article. It gave a very accurate picture of ESOL students and the challenges they face. It also gave an accurate picture of the educational needs of this population. 

Aletheia Leavitt
Douglasville, Georgia

Spread the blame

I must respond to the “Is NCLB Working?” (January/February 2009) I’m a retired public school teacher member of NEA and also a Republican. I defend our schools and teachers every way I can, but I cannot stand by and let you continue to lay blame on one side of this issue on Republicans. NCLB has not done what it claimed it would, but both sides need to come together to ensure that no idea or child is left behind.

Linda Lemmons
Lexington, Kentucky

Sweetheart deals or capitalism at its finest?

The article “Follow the Money” (January/February) is one all NEA members should read. Here in New York, General Electric has gone to communities and asked for unrealistic tax deals that in the long run cripple the communities that they say they will help. Our members and the public need to understand that these sweetheart tax deals simply pass their obligations to the rest of us.

Jeff Beall
Newark, New York

Your arguments against giving businesses tax breaks in “Follow the Money” don’t seem right to me. The property taxes that will be paid by the workers at Company X will largely offset losses because the tax rate and ultimate income for those new workers’ dwellings/land is higher than what their business would otherwise give in taxes. Also, business taxes tend to go to general coffers rather than directly to the schools as property taxes do. The reality is that no business equals no income for anyone, and business will find a tax friendly place to relocate because that’s how it works.   

William J. Hollin
Missoula, Montana

Grades are a fact of life

Adopting a philosophy of “you’re all doing great!” instead of assigning an actual grade of some sort, is akin to giving out medals for coming in 14th place (“What’s in an ‘A’?” January/February). While this ideology may be useful at early levels of the learning process, it does students an injustice as the student prepares himself or herself to enter an increasingly competitive world. To promote a non-evaluative system is not only ill-advised, but irresponsible, as well.  As a professional educator, your job is to inspire students, but it is also to assign honest, detailed, and motivational feedback, based upon whatever systemic constraints and limitations are utilized for student evaluation. 

Adelbert Wilber
Brownsburg, Indiana

Give Michelle Rhee a break

I am shocked and a bit unnerved at your “grading” of D.C. Schools Chancellor Rhee! (“State Report,” January/February) It’s true that her approach is very unorthodox and that she seems to not play well with others, but I applaud her efforts to bring about reform.

Kelly Paradeza
Pearl City, Hawaii

Share your ideas, comments, and opinions with NEA Today in one of four ways: On our Discussion Board. By Mail: Write to Letters, NEA Today, 1201 16th St., N.W., Washington, DC 20036 Through the Web: By e-mail: Write to neatoday@nea.org. By Fax: (202) 822-7206 Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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1-Mar-09


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