Re: Reading and Writing

Date: Thu Feb 17 2000 - 10:56:04 EST

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    I want to apologize to you for any miscommunication on my part about my
    reply on the edequity listserv related to the role of funding or female
    teachers in literacy programs. A respondent replied that literacy
    programs are not well funded and that the failure of boys in the early
    grades to achieve the same proficiency as their female counterparts was
    not the "fault" of female teachers.

    The first issue, that of funding, or lack thereof, is likely true for all
    school subjects, reading remediation included. Funding is relative, and
    although reading remediation may not have an ideal budget, when compared
    with numeracy remediation, it does much better. Parents, community, and
    educational leaders have just not responded to the need for alternative
    methods of teaching numeracy, and some might say (although I'm not sure if
    I agree with this) that it is because failure to achieve in math has
    traditionally been more of a female issue.

    But the second concern of "blaming" female teachers needs clarification.
    There is no "one size fits all" for anything in human dynamics, including
    teaching. All children need and deserve a faculty that mirrors the
    student population, no matter what their grade level or program of study.
    This includes teachers of both genders and the ethnic groups that make up
    the educational community. Just as I would like to see more females in
    math, science, and technical subjects, I think we would all benefit from
    more male teachers in elementary grades, as well as English and social
    sciences. In past generations this issue has been given little or no
    attention by colleges of education, educational administration, and others
    in a position to develop recruitment incentives for attracting gender or
    ethnic minority applicants. It is not the "fault" of the teachers already
    in place, but a long term planning issue that would best be addressed
    sooner rather than later.

    Barbara Tavares
    University of Hawaii

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