In Response to: Schoolhouses rock

Kathy Kiely ’77’s enthusiastic article about education reform (cover story, March 2) prompts me to write from a tempered perspective. One of the most troubling aspects of the current trend, seen in the programs she highlights, is that few reformers have actual teaching experience. At most, they trained (to varying degrees) for the classroom, and taught only for a short time. In other professions, this would create a credibility gap. But it seems that any type of academic background is considered adequate qualification for being an expert in education reform.  

I have taught for 16 years in the public schools. Like millions of my colleagues, I work every day to improve lives. Now my profession has become a lightning rod for national reformers trying to correct the injustices of society. The teachers I know feel that such a mission is unrealistic and unfair. We strive to maintain excellence under increasingly challenging conditions: shifting demographics, “readiness to learn” issues, large class sizes, special populations, etc. Believing in the worth of all of our students, we struggle to give of our increasingly rationed selves. It now appears that we, as a profession, are being held responsible for the very problems we have been facing down every day.  

Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the young, fresh innovators featured in PAW. I think some reforms are needed, and it’s always important to try to make a difference. I just wanted to speak up for all of us teachers who find ourselves in a difficult spot. Most of us are doing all we can. We need support, not blame. 

Willis Freemantle ’82