Letters to the Editor (5/05)

on May 26, 05 • by Letters to the Editor

The people who are evaluating teachers, making budgetary and other fundamental decisions about the direction of education are not themselves educators. What do the governor and other politicians know about our schools? What do the administrators know about classroom teaching? Would you have an English teacher evaluate a physics experiment?
During recent evaluations, one of our English teachers was teaching a work by James Joyce. I have worked closely with this teacher for 20 years and know her to be consistently outstanding. Another teacher was teaching the use of euphemism in the novel Night (the Nazi use of terms like “special treatment” in relation to Jews). The evaluator had to look up the term “euphemism.” And what does this same administrator know about the works of Joyce, or for that matter, about the teaching of English? Personally I’d like to know how many years of classroom teaching our administrators have. My guess is — not many! Yet, under the current system, they are responsible for evaluating teachers with 20 or 30 years of day-to-day work with students.
There are reasonable alternatives. The faculties at each school could select a few outstanding and respected teachers who would be part of a pool. Teachers from this pool would then evaluate teachers at other schools (even in other districts) — teachers they do not know. Furthermore, evaluations should be done at random and without warning to the teacher being observed. For one thing, such a system would relieve administrators of a duty they are often unqualified to perform.
— Robert Davis,
retiring English teacher

Student contests accusation that Shield and Scroll is elitist
I am a proud member of Shield and Scroll and after reading Mr. York’s opinion piece on the elitism of Shield and Scroll, I wanted to clarify a few things.
Although it is unfortunate that Mr. York believes there is favoritism in our election system, members are never allowed to see the candidates’ names. They only see a list of activities, the GPA, and a ratio of honors/AP to total classes taken. Although our election process might seem to favor people with high GPAs and lots of AP classes, the reality is that we all started with an equal chance to obtain the GPA and select the challenge of our academics at Lowell.
I frown upon people who say that the whole point of Shield and Scroll is to get first pick. S&S members are not receiving first pick as a reward but rather as a way to make sure that self-scheduling goes as smoothly as possible. When the administration took first pick away, S&S members were forced to leave their posts frequently, causing mass disarray.
Mr. York also fails to emphasize the importance of Shield and Scroll to the Lowell community.
It is because of Shield and Scroll that Lowell is able to save thousands of dollars in labor annually. Is there any other organization at Lowell that can claim that?
— Charlie Dharmasukrit
Shield and Scroll president

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