<b>Teacher exams</b>

EDITOR: In many ways, I admire and applaud the proposal to establish a test similar to the bar that would hold teachers to "rigorous national standards" ("Teacher exams: An overdue reform," Thursday). Perhaps teachers would then enjoy the status, compensation and respect that professionals such as attorneys, engineers and physicians do. Perhaps the profession would then attract the best and the brightest from amongst our nation's college graduates. Finally, perhaps teachers would then enjoy the working conditions conducive to success and be freed from the heavy political scrutiny and demands that other professions seem to sidestep.

But I have just a few questions for columnist Esther J. Cepeda: Why is there such a high attrition rate in the teaching profession? Why aren't our nation's top scholars K-12 educators? Why do so few middle-class parents urge their children to consider teaching as a career? Why are there no medical boards or state bars or oversight committees on which teachers can serve to "weed out" the incompetent professionals in fields such as medicine and law and journalism?

The answers to these questions suggest something different from the continued unquestioned assumption that teachers alone are to blame for the flaws in their profession.


Eighth-grade teacher, Santa Rosa Middle School