Sara Stevenson, school librarian in Austin and a member of the blog honor roll, is intrepid. she reads the Wall Street Journal every day and responds promptly to every attack on public schools and teachers, one of WSJ’s major preoccupations.

She wrote the letter below. She forgot to ask Peterson and Hanushek to give up their tenure at Harvard and Stanford to prove they don’t believe in tenure:

From: Sara Stevenson
Date: Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Subject: Response to Paul E. Peterson on Teacher Tenure (8-18-14)
To: “ltrs, wsj”

Paul E. Peterson cites surveys of parents, communities, and teachers to determine the percentage of current teachers whose performance deserves a D or F rating. He underscores that even teachers rate 13% of their colleagues as failures. Stated inversely, teachers approve of the performance of 87% of their cohorts. Peterson and Eric Hanushek use this data to fuel their mission to exterminate “bad teachers” from the profession. At the same time, our current Congress has an 8% approval (92% disapproval) rating. I’m interested in the percentage of “bad” actors in other professions.

Rather than focusing on drumming out “bad teachers,” why don’t we focus on improving teacher conditions and training and on attracting more talented young people to the profession? With 40% of all teachers leaving the profession within five years, it’s certainly not a sinecure, in spite of certain states with teacher tenure. Finally, Peterson cites other nations, including Finland, as role models in education in spite of the fact that 100% of Finnish teachers are unionized with tenure protections. We need to shift our focus in this tired education debate.

Sara Stevenson
Austin, Texas