In his column (Feb. 15), Richard Sabine used SAT scores as the final, empirical word in a student’s success. Even the College Board says the SAT does not measure any innate ability. Psychologist Claude Steele points out that the test has been found to measure only about 18 percent of the things that it takes to do well in school, and is not a very good predictor of how a student will do in college.

Sabine is quite comfortable sitting in his armchair, pointing what is wrong with public schools and the teachers who educate our children, sustain them and comfort them.

Every school in America has its challenges, as do we. Those have very little to do with the men and women doing the hard work day in, day out. Given the obstacles they face — kids with terrible home lives, an inequitable funding system, active interference from self-proclaimed “experts” — it is a miracle anybody learns anything at all. Yet, every day, our kids learn and grow, largely thanks to the efforts of their teachers.

Teachers get dumped on constantly. All of the ills of education, even the ones beyond their control, get laid at their feet. They are constantly portrayed as lazy, overpaid, incompetents. No other profession takes the scorn and abuse that teachers do.

Sabine is ignorant of how our negotiating team approaches negotiations. We use a technique called interest-based bargaining, which is not adversarial like traditional bargaining. To connect SAT scores with collective bargaining is ridiculous.

Sabine admits that teachers need one-on-one time with struggling students. They need time to collaborate and learn from other teachers. I agree. Add to that list that teachers need more preparation time. None of that is free.


I would ask Sabine if he is willing to prove his worth by leading the effort to provide the funding to do these important things? Or, would he retain his role as a critical, uninformed spectator?

Sabine bemoans that teachers get a lunch break. It is a 20-minute, “inhale-a-sandwich” lunch. The 35-hour work week is a myth. Teachers often arrive early and stay far beyond dismissal time — meeting with parents, helping students. Once home, they call or email parents. They work weekends, holidays, attend school activities, and volunteer to be on many committees.

Sabine should stick with what he knows. Education isn’t it.

Jim Handy, Lewiston

Chairman, Lewiston School Committee

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