This is in response to Richard Sabine’s guest column, “Time to get tough with educators” (Feb. 15).

I worked with teachers in almost every school building in Lewiston from 2010 to 2014 and the very last thing Lewiston teachers need is greater pressure from administration.

In Lewiston public schools, teachers work extremely long and hard to provide meaningful learning experiences to an exceptionally wide range of learners.

I urge Sabine to get to know a Lewiston elementary school teacher or two to find out what a typical “35-hour work week” looks like and feels like before he embarks on another embarrassingly bad public assessment of what is needed in schools today. He displays great ignorance of public school realities.

One might assume Sabine has not been employed in a work environment as demanding as the public school classroom in a long time. Perhaps he has not spent a day responsible for the learning environment and well-being of 25 young people.

Has he spent his evenings reviewing student work and providing meaningful feedback? Or has he spent a vacation week planning upcoming units and lessons? Has he attended an evening or early morning meeting with a supportive parent to discuss an issue at school, an angry parent challenging the curriculum, an alcoholic parent who does not see his or her child’s tremendous effort, or a struggling parent who is having difficulty providing meals for his or her child, let alone homework help?


One could also assume Sabine has never had to spend many hours putting together heaps of evidence of his “effectiveness” after providing years (decades for some) of passionate service to his students and community. Perhaps he never had to sit through hours of professional development (assigned during treasured planning time), trying to build a K-12 curriculum from the bottom up. If he had, he would not have made such naive assumptions about Lewiston teachers.

Lewiston classroom teachers may be under-resourced, but they are in no way in need of greater discipline. “Getting tough” with teachers is an outdated, ineffective philosophy embraced by old-school, top-heavy district administrations, and it sends excellent, hard-working teachers heading for the hills.

“Get tough” on criminals and ill-informed newspaper columnists instead.

Teachers work at their greatest potential when they are provided the time, resources and support to create a rich, meaningful and effective learning experience for their students. Over-emphasis on accountability already eclipses that enough.

James Gale, Bowdoinham

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