Mr. President, First of all I would like to congratulate you on your victory to the white house. I look forward to being served by you for the next four years, and God willing maybe the term after that. You have worked hard to earn the trust of the people and gain their votes. There are many challenges ahead of you: curing a sick economy, managing wars overseas, and helping Americans to keep their homes, to name a few. However I must add to your long and overwhelming “to do” list the task of improving the educational system in our country. Every area from Pre-K to college needs improvement.

I would like to give you an assignment to deal with while in office. The Obama Administration has made it clear that getting good teachers into America’s schools is a top priority. The positions of teachers need to be filled, and the teachers need to be better trained and mentored. A recent report, “Stand By Me: What Teachers Really Think about Unioins, Merit Pay and Other Professional Matters,” offers a chance to get a look at what teachers themselves think. For example, most teachers support standardized testing, high school exit exams, and using testing as a basis for promotion.

At the same time, most are concerned about the amount of testing and the danger that too much “teaching to the test” can repress learning. Correspondingly, teachers support higher academic standards, and very few want to return to policies of the past such as a social promotion. Yet, most want standards set by educators, and not by state or local elected officials. Lawmakers are legitimately concerned about the need to remove ineffective teachers who “are just going through the motions, and they may be tempted to focus mainly on eliminating tenure or reducing the influence of teachers’ unions.

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But the views of rank and file teachers suggest a more complex situation. Most teachers say that without unions, their working conditions and salaries would be worse, and they might be vulnerable to unfair charges from parents or students. Yet, nearly half say unions sometimes protect teachers who shouldn’t be in the classroom, and most acknowledge that receiving tenure is no guarantee that teachers have proved their effectiveness in the classroom. New teachers are upfront about revealing they need more preparation, especially when it comes to dealing with more diverse classrooms and working with special needs students.

New high-school and middle-school teachers are more likely to say they have problems with student discipline and are not getting support from the administration. Finally, new teachers from premier alternative programs such as Teach For America or Troops-To-Teachers are more idealistic than their traditional path counterparts, but often say they could use more preparation and support than they currently receive. With that I leave you to think about the most important issue, teachers and schools in the United States of America. The students are the future and without dedicated teachers there is no grand future. Sincerely, Miss Abigail Garcia

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