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posted: 10/21/2013 5:00 AM

Focus on ability, not race, of teachers

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In the Oct. 15 story regarding teacher "diversity" in Elgin and other suburban school districts, the reporter observes, "But they're being taught by mostly white teachers." In the context of the piece this seems to be on its face a pejorative judgment. Nowhere in the piece was it shown that having the teaching ranks reflect the demographic composition of the student body improves educational outcomes. I wonder if the editors would have allowed the same assessment if instead of "white teachers," one of the ethnic minorities mentioned was used instead. In fact, I don't wonder since I know even if it were true, it wouldn't happen.

We as parents and residents, regardless of ethnicity or background, are entitled to have our teachers chosen on merit, without regard to race, religion or ethnic background, employing those who can best teach our children.

Moreover the piece failed to mention the challenge districts have in finding qualified minorities given that both African-Americans and Hispanic students have much higher dropout rates in secondary education, lower attendance and graduation rates in college compared with white students. With white students having higher college attendance and graduation rates and a larger share of the population, it means there are proportionally fewer minority candidates for teaching positions.

How about the gender part of diversity? The article failed to mention the "gender gap." The male/female teacher ratio in Elgin is 23/77, a figure that certainly doesn't reflect the demographics of the district. In Palatine Township Elementary District 15, the gap is even larger, 13/87.

There are far too many other educational issues that need our attention. Spending time and dollars on this pseudo problem erodes efforts to solve real challenges in education.

Joe H. Heater

Palatine

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