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Ready, Set, Play!

Three cheers for the article “Play Ethic” (January/February). Too many kids are over-programmed or dependent on computer games for entertainment and stimulation. They need to get out there and play their own games and develop their rules. It builds character and prepares them for life’s problems. And thank goodness that it can’t be measured by a standardized test!

Judy Stenberg
East Greenwich, RI

I completely agree with Meier, Engel, and Taylor. However I must assume they do not think they have stumbled upon a new phenomenon created by technology, safety concerns, or even recent educational reforms. Artists working with young people in the field of education and drama/theatre have spent many decades as advocates for play. I was pleased to see this topic addressed, but surprised by the absence of history and/or credit to professionals and their efforts to convince stakeholders of the consequences of reduced play in relation to learning.

Gina Morris
Flint, MI

The Roots of Bullying

I read with interest your article on bullying (“Does It Get Better?” January/February). Being a 10-year public school teacher and a 30-year teacher educator at Kansas State University, I have seen bullying and have taught about bullying. Probably due to my background as a high school counselor, I am very interested in how a bully is developed. As you would suspect I have strong opinions on this topic. I was disappointed you did not touch on this topic. You did well in presenting the profile of the persons who are bullied.  This is good, but we need prevention of bullying. Bullies are made and not born.

Ray Kurtz
Manhattan, KS

The “bad teacher” Canard

I thought Tony Danza's remarks demonstrated an understanding of what teaching is all about (“Hey Mr. D!” January/February). However, I take issue with his remark that we all know there are bad teachers. We all know this because? As a veteran teacher of 31 one years, I think we all know there are bad teachers the way we know there are bad doctors, secretaries, bus drivers, grocery clerks, and other professionals and workers because people are not perfect, not because bad teaching is a systemic problem in our country. I'm impatient with how easily these words are spoken these days. I'm tired of teachers being scapegoated for the real problems in our education system.

Betty Morss
Columbus, OH

Better Training for Special Ed Teachers

Thank you for addressing the issue of finding highly qualified sign language interpreters (“Body Language,” January/February). It is very similar to the problems that are found in educating students who use braille as their primary reading medium. Most instructional assistants are not trained in braille and/or are not up to the academic standards needed to work with many blind students. It is difficult to mainstream a blind student into an algebra class when the assistant knows neither braille nor algebra. This is a nationwide problem with much disparity between states in what qualifications assistants should have and how they are to be trained. Please, let's improve guidelines so that instructional assistants are also highly qualified. A special education teacher cannot be everywhere. It takes a strong team to work with special education students.

Carolyn Dail
Brea, CA

While I completely agree with “Play Ethic,” I wonder about your description of it in the table of contents: "Where do kids learn to be innovative, creative, and flexible thinkers? Hint: Probably not the classroom..." This underhanded dig is exactly what we try to defend ourselves from and I am surprised that this time it came from the NEA! As an elementary teacher of 4th, 5th and 6th grade students, these critical thinking skills are exactly what I teach in my classroom. For many of us who teach in this high stakes environment there is a commitment to teaching higher order thinking skills. In the future, please don't sink to the level of those who bash the teaching profession. I expect more from my advocate.

Sierra Bray
Wheat Ridge, CO

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