EDITOR: Michael J. Petrilli ("What we learned about school reform," Monday) obviously misunderstands what is going on in education nationally. The real story is what the voters learned about anti-teacher school "reform." Teachers went door-to-door to do what teachers do best — that is, explain to voters that the anti-teacher agendas were simply efforts funded by billionaires to side-step paying their fair share in taxes and harvest public funds for private coffers.
This paralleled what occurred here in the Proposition 30 and Proposition 32 campaigns. Billionaires can outspend teachers, but teachers can out-teach billionaires.
Petrilli mentions U.S. performance on international assessments where our country scores in the middle of the pack. What he doesn't mention is that U.S. schools with fewer than 10 percent of students living in poverty score the best in the world. Even the schools with up to 25 percent of kids in poverty tie the best in the world.
And those countries, such as Finland and Singapore, that are the high performers? They all have powerful teachers' unions. The same goes for the highest achieving states in this country. It is the lowest-achieving states, in the deep South, where teacher unions are not allowed by law.
President, Early Childhood/K-12 Council
California Federation of Teachers
EDITOR: In response to Michael Drayton's letter regarding "fair" property taxes ("Tax consequences," Nov. 16), did he mean fair retroactive taxes? His neighbor chose to buy that house. He knew what the tax rate would be.
This constant whine that has permeated for quite some time from the rearview-mirror watchers has gotten quite nauseating. "It's not fair" is the new rallying call for all who feel wronged by their own actions. If you can't afford the tax rate on the house you want to purchase, don't buy it.
I don't understand the thinking that if someone seems to have a better deal (i.e., bought a house 30-plus years ago, for less than what you paid and has a lower tax rate) it is somehow unfair. Does Drayton suggest that we all pay the same mortgage rate as that guy who just bought a house for 10 times what it's worth? Would that seem fair?
The whole reasoning behind Proposition 13 was to keep people from being taxed out of their homes. This participation-trophy mentality has gotten a bit out of control.
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EDITOR: I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the Sonoma Media Investments group and all of the others who helped return The Press Democrat to being a true local newspaper.
EDITOR: I became a teacher of adolescents, including addicts and the incarcerated, 50 years ago. These budding adults are wonderful. They hunger for guidance and direction, especially since they don't know the rules. Permissiveness is an insidious form of child abuse. In many instances they want parents and teachers to say "no."
Kids do not suddenly become slobs at 14. Neatness, picking up after themselves and other responsibilities should be taught as soon as the child can understand. As soon as they are physically able, they should make their beds, place soiled clothes in the hamper and put things they are not using in the proper place. They should be praised for doing this.
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