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[Susan notes: This letter breaks the myth that The Times never prints criticism of editorials. In this fine letter a teacher effectively shows the odds facing a high school teacher for "influencing" students.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

In "Enforcing School Standards, at Last" (editorial, March 31), you assert that teachers̢۪ unions reacted fiercely to the concept of taking student achievement into account when evaluating teachers. There are many reasons this is so.

I teach English to high school sophomores. I first encounter my students in their mid-teens and for merely 45 minutes each day. I have no influence on their upbringing, family lives, social conditions or habits. I can̢۪t control their attendance or whether they do homework.

Also, on what basis will I be evaluated? Test scores? Based on what tests? Will they measure students̢۪ appreciation of literature, their formation of values and priorities, their social skills or myriad other aspects of education?

Perhaps we need new ways to evaluate teachers, but until the discussion moves from vague platitudes to an earnest discussion of the issue, teacher unions will continue to object.

The writer is the United Federation of Teachers representative at DeWitt Clinton High School.

Alan Ettman

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