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More Facts, Please!

Thank you for the great article, “Just the Facts, Please!” (March/April) I am a “retired” 42-year career teacher, but still very involved with the profession. (I do staff development training, conduct summer reading and writing teacher workshops, and speak at IRA conferences throughout the country.) I have known (or perhaps I should say "believed") your conclusions to be true for a very long time, but my “knowledge” was useless because I didn’t have the facts to back up my beliefs. Now I do—thanks to you. You presented each point in “easy to understand” language, and included examples that we as educators can relate to. I clipped your article out of the magazine and have put it away for “safe keeping.” Who knows, I may need it as “ammunition” some time.
Jacquie McTaggart
Independence, IA

Excellent article, especially the section on tenure. As a retired teacher, I often get into conversations with non-educators and have realized that most people really think that teacher tenure means that teachers cannot be fired. I wrote a letter to Matt Lauer of NBC’s Today show about such a comment he made in a story about “Waiting for Superman.” I got no response. Education is under attack by political interest in many areas, from unfair evaluations based on test scores to retirement pensions. The public needs to see our side of these issues.
Theodore Coleman
Ash Fork, AZ

The Praise Paradox

Talk about an article resonating!  “The Praise Paradox” (March/ April) articulated a long-held suspicion that our culture of praise was a disincentive for children of all abilities to work harder to achieve success. As an almost 40-year veteran of secondary PE and coaching, I submit that we are experiencing the same kind of reaction from our athletes. Constant praise of ability vs. praise for effort has rendered many of our aspiring athletes unwilling to risk failure by working at their weaknesses. Thank you for a great article.
Neil Broderick
North Salem, NY

Kids with Asperger Syndrome

I see yet another article about helping kids with Asperger’s. That’s great, as they need specialized help. However. I’ve yet to read or hear or see anything about the ever-increasing number of emotionally disturbed students who desperately need our care and attention. While one in 110 may have Asperger’s or be on the Autism spectrum, nearly one in five Americans have a mental illness. As a special education case manager and one who assesses students for special education, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of students being assessed for and qualifying for emotional disturbance. It's time to get the word out—mental illness does not spell failure.
Lisa Keith
Fresno, CA

Foreclosure Crisis Impact Education Funding

In the March/April issue, I was particularly interested in the article concerning the Clark County ESEA (“ESP’s Hit the Streets in Clark County” March/April). I am a member and we are facing some real problems here. Underfunding is crushing our school district. The problem isn’t so much that the local and state governments are over spending or wasting tax dollars. Here in Nevada, we have been hit the hardest by home foreclosures. Banks are not required to pay the property taxes current when they acquire a foreclosure. The taxes are only paid up when the bank sells the foreclosed property to a new buyer. The banks are in no hurry to sell the foreclosures. Maybe we can influence our elected officials to change the laws as to require the banks to pay the property taxes.
Oren Applequist
Las Vegas, NV

I was truly impressed by the number of excellent articles in the March/April issue of NEA Today. Standing out above them all was “The Praise Paradox” and “Square Pegs.” As one who has taught several Asperger Syndrome children, I now understand what the mother said to the teacher in the HBO movie Temple Grandin: They are which our students view the world, and teachers need to be open and supportive to all of them.
Stephen Borton
Vernal, UT

Let’s Talk

Share your ideas, comments, and opinions with NEA Today in one of five ways: Mail: Write to Letters, NEA Today, 1201 16th St. N.W., Washington, DC, 20036. Web: Go to and choose “Send Letter to the Editor” from the drop-down “Subject” menu. Email: Write to Fax: 202-822-7206. Facebook: Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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