The letters from young teachers in your December 14th cover story ("Classroom Confidential") reminded me so much of myself my first year teaching history at a low-income-neighborhood high school in Memphis.
That was possibly the worst year of my life. The administration didn't seem to care if I had problems in my classroom. The students hated me because I was some weird white woman from East Memphis who was making them do work they didn't want to do. I spent many days at lunch crying in the teachers' bathroom. I never slept, mainly from the anxiety of having to go to work the next day. I even called my boss at the bookstore where I worked before I started teaching to ask if I could have my old (minimum wage) job back at the end of the school year. The education courses I took to get my master's degree were completely useless in what I had to face every day.
But something happened at the beginning of my second year. On my own, I learned what worked and what didn't work in handling student behavior. I learned that what I did made a difference. I learned that history had so much more to teach students than just names, dates, and facts. I am now in my 12th year of teaching teenagers, and I would never do anything else! My advice for new teachers is this: Stay with it. It gets better. I promise!
A month ago, I saw one of my students from my third year of teaching. He was working as a screener at the Memphis airport. He was married with two children and going to school part-time to be a teacher. He told me how much he enjoyed my class and how much he learned from me, and he thanked me for what I had done. This is what makes it worthwhile.
Right on, Desi Franklin (Viewpoint, December 14th issue). We need more people of her ilk involved in local politics.
James A. Easter
UMust be kidding
It's interesting that David Maddox would presume to call into question the integrity of the University of Tennessee for its use of its initials as the cornerstone of its advertising campaign, as compared to the University of Memphis' similar image push (Letters, December 14th issue). If you look at universities across the country you would find the same basic concept repeated over and over again.
Just a sampling: University of Oregon, "If UOnly Knew"; Dominican University, "I Can"; University of Cincinnati, "UC Possibilities."
It would seem this concept is just overly obvious and perhaps only confused with being clever by the people who believe they thought of it most recently. So, should Maddox really be throwing around reckless, inflammatory accusations such as "plagiarism," when the only issue here is just a lack of original thought and creativity all around? You shouldn't proclaim loudly about inventing the wheel if you are really only along for the ride.
When animal-rights activists resort to phony letter-writing campaigns to promote meatless eating, they don't deserve to be taken seriously. Mike Potter's December 14th letter, "No Meat, Please," was a great example.
The exact same letter Potter submitted was also published in at least 35 other U.S. newspapers this month. In each case, a different activist "signed" it. This is part of an organized campaign by the Farm Animal Reform Movement.
If you want to express a point of view in public, the least you can do is use your own words. But hundreds of animal-rights letters appearing on opinion pages this year were just carbon copies of each other. If animal-rights groups want widespread exposure for their twisted message, they should buy advertisements like everyone else.
David Martosko, Director of ResearchCenter for Consumer Freedom
Lies for "Protection"
President Bush and his attorney general and secretary of defense have told Americans and the world that the detainees we hold in Guantanamo are some of our most dangerous enemies. So, why have 205 of the 245 detainees been freed when returned to their home countries -- countries that are our allies on the war on terror? Perhaps it's because these men were never connected to any terrorist groups but victims of a government willing to lock up innocent people to "prove" they were protecting us.