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OpinionLetters

Letters: Does race matter for Long Island teachers, students?

Reader letters to Newsday for Thursday, March 14, 2019.

Researchers at Hofstra University found that the hiring

Researchers at Hofstra University found that the hiring of black and Latino schoolteachers on Long Island has failed to keep pace with a decadelong surge in minority enrollments. Photo Credit: iStock

Those of us who believe that the primary goal of education should be to help students learn to think clearly, coherently, deeply, etc., also believe that diversity of ideas and approaches to problems can be taught equally well by qualified teachers of almost any background.

The Hofstra University study reported by Newsday deals with teachers’ races compared with students’ races [“Study shows lack of LI teacher diversity,” News, March 10]. The Hofstra study makes the point that students often do not get to see teachers like themselves.

Because we live in a multicultural society (and world), surely students should rub shoulders with different types of people to learn differences and similarities. But it isn’t always possible to match students with teachers who look and behave alike. That’s why teaching clear, critical-thinking skills is so important.

Robert M. Goldberg,

  Jericho

Editor’s note: The writer, now retired, is a former faculty member at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and the New York Institute of Technology.

  

Your article presented pie charts that compared the populations of students by race with the same for public school teachers. Long Island’s overwhelmingly white population of teachers poses an issue that must be addressed: the idea that if schools do not diversify by race, there must be systemic problems at the core.

Although there is some truth in that point, race should not be the only issue. If we are ever going to live in a world where we do not judge systems and people by the color of their skin, we cannot keep pushing the narrative that balanced racial systems are the ideal.

Where is the pie chart on percentages of teachers engaging their students? Where is the chart on teachers actively preparing lessons before class or spending time after school to help students who fall behind? Why does the skin color of a teacher matter compared with that teacher’s respect for, and attention and commitment to students? We will never be able to forgo race as long as we constantly argue to what ends numbers must be enforced. I believe we can all agree that we want a healthy and constructive education system, so fight for teachers who try to make a difference in their classes.

Brian P. Doyle,

  Plainview

  

Unfortunately, heavily minority school districts on Long Island continue to struggle to increase their graduation rates. As a result, they produce too few students ready to complete four-year college teaching certificates. But your stories did not focus on that.

In addition, what are the statistics for Nassau and Suffolk counties and New York City to demonstrate who is being interviewed, rejected and hired by specific districts?

Martin Danenberg,

  Islandia

Editor’s note: The writer, now retired, taught in New York City schools for 33 years and after that administered GED programs.

  

Your headlines are an insult to common sense. Teachers should be hired on their qualifications, not their color.

John Van Acken,

  Bellerose

  

Local educators suggest that there need to be incentives to attract minority students to the teaching profession [“Educators say school boards must step up,” News, March 10]. The article quotes a University of Pennsylvania scholar who says that “despite the growing availability of minority teacher candidates, relatively few are hired in high-wealth areas.” So how do incentives accomplish anything but to produce more unemployed minority schoolteachers?

Maybe the problem is with the system. It seems you cannot get hired unless you know someone in a position of authority who can influence your hiring prospects. It’s the old “not what you know, but who you know.”

Robert Biancardi,

  Rockville Centre

  

Skeptical about gun- buyback effectiveness

Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas and Executive Laura Curran made rhetorical, baseless claims in the March 3 news story, “Gun buyback draws high turnout.”

Where is the proof that the 367 guns collected by authorities in Uniondale on March 2 were “taken off the street,” as Singas said, or that, “Every gun here represents a life saved,” as Curran said?

Common sense dictates that a gun used by a street criminal would rarely find its way to a buyback program. It is worth far more for crime, versus the few hundred dollars a criminal can get by turning it in. In all likelihood, guns that were bought back came from law-abiding citizens, some of whom are tired of being treated like criminals simply because they are gun owners in New York.

Vincent Cristiano,

  Ronkonkoma

Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the National Rifle Association.

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