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Hello, Mr. Mullin, and thank you for your comments. Alternative points of view should be encouraged.

First, it is not necessary to convince me that you help children, nor of your dedication to your job. I don’t know you, and I am happy to assume you are an excellent teacher. Teachers like you are important to our schools and our children. And I own my own dictionary.

But there are other teachers (and I’ll bet you know at least one or two, most teachers do) who are not as dedicated as you. Who care much less for children and schools, and who take less time, who have little patience and enthusiasm for their job. Teachers who resist change and renewal, who resist new ideas or are too quick in rejecting proven strategies. Why are these teachers protected by the union?

Ask any employer — the time and energy spent on employee related legal issues is a hardship. California is one of the most employee-biased states in our country. Why do substandard teachers need greater protection than any other employee in the state?

I believe sub-standard teachers should be terminated, and it should not require any more effort to do so than any other employee from the “real world”. I (and other parents) want our children taught by motivated and dedicated teachers, like Mr. Mullin, not teachers who keep their jobs because they have been afforded protection via collective bargaining. Due process, sure. Protecting the incompetent, no.

This requires fairness in management, however, and San Diego Unified has not been demonstrating much of this recently. Look at the way Sherman Elementary’s Eddie Caballero was mishandled as an example. This was outrageous. A dedicated employee jerked around by mismanagement. I hope someone somewhere apologized to him. Look at King/Chavez Arts Academy, where teachers were fired after receiving a series of good reviews. Sloppy management at best.

Nowhere did I talk about “my belief” in charter schools. You are correct, many of them are mismanaged and failing the students and the teachers. I neither believe nor disbelieve in charters — they have yet to prove themselves.

I believe charters exist for two primary reasons. First, the district is not offering what parents (taxpayers!) want. Charters are generally more “progressive” by nature — early adopters, new methods, alternative strategies. Some of these work, many do not. The second, and possibly less appealing to the union, reason is the flexibility offered by avoiding the onerous union contracts. Parents are attracted to a standard employer/employee relationship with employees reporting to and employed at the pleasure of the employer. Charters are an indicator of the prevailing attitude among parents: We’re so desperate for a new educational paradigm, we’re willing to gamble on charter schools.

Mr. Mullin, you and I strongly agree about the public school system, and it’s crucial role in raising a educated electorate. It’s a cornerstone of our republic, and our hope to raise new leadership.

Thank you again for your comments and dialogue.

—PAUL M. BOWERS

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