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[Susan notes: The author reveals the stunning reality that Katrina has allowed New Orleans corporate politicos to jumpstart the policy that is infiltrating other cities: No experience necessary when it comes to hiring teachers.]

Published in New York Times

To the editor

âA Tamer of Public Schools Offers a Plan for New Orleansâ (front page, Sept. 24), about the new superintendent, Paul G. Vallas, highlights some of the key socioeconomic barriers to reforming education in New Orleans. But one of the most critical problems facing the cityâs public schools wasnât mentioned: a severe shortage of experienced teachers.

The stateâs callous decision to cut financing, forcing the Orleans Parish school board to fire the vast majority of its employees after Hurricane Katrina, has all but silenced the voice of educators and has compounded pre-existing problems by creating a dearth of teachers. This has led to a nationwide scramble to fill teaching positions.

School officials have adopted a âno experience necessaryâ approach that too often places inexperienced teachers in classrooms that desperately need seasoned veterans.

We would like to work with Mr. Vallas on a school reform plan that encourages experienced New Orleans teachers to return and reinstates collective bargaining so that teachers can be full participants in the effort to create high-quality public schools.

Though our schools, neighborhoods and livelihoods were decimated by storms and elected officials two years ago, United Teachers of New Orleans has continued to fight to raise the quality of public education in our city.

We look forward to working with the new superintendent to remove the âno experience necessaryâ signs from the doors of our public schools.

Brenda Mitchell, President, United Teachers of New Orleans

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