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[Susan notes: ]

Published in Wall Street Journal

To the editor

Kudos to Sara Stevenson. This is one humdinger of a letter. She gets in the research on achievement and she emphasizes proverty. Kudos, too, to the Wall Street Journal for allowing Peggy Noonan to be refuted so roundly. I can't see the New York Times allowing readers to reveal how bogus Thomas Friedman's claims about education are.

Go forth and do likewise.

Regarding Peggy Noonan's Public Unions Get Too 'Friendly' (Declarations, March 5): I teach in a right-to-work state, Texas, and it's more like a right-to-get-fired state. With the Texas two-year budget shortfall projected at $27 billion the Texas legislature is refusing to fulfill its constitutional duty to adequately fund public education.

It's estimated that 100,000 Texas educators will lose their jobs, and there is nothing we can do about it. Over 8% of our district's current staff has received reduction in force notices, including 571 teachers. Now that the school board voted for financial exigency, our superintendent has the power to ignore our contracts. Here in Texas, our "unions" have no collective-bargaining power. Our teachers rank 39th in pay compared to other states, and our student test scores are far below those of children in states with strong teachers unions, such as Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

Please do not blame the unions for the problems in public education. Stop scapegoating teachers. American students who attend schools with less than 10% poverty outperform every other country but Finland in international tests. Blame instead a Texas public-school student population of over 48% living in poverty.

Sara Stevenson

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