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There are better ways to keep kids in school than giving teachers bonuses

1:30 PM EST, January 18, 2013

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I was appalled by your report that the Baltimore City school system is offering financial incentives to teachers in order to reduce the number of out-of-school student suspensions ("City trying bonuses to cut rate of suspension," Jan. 15).

Children who misbehave in school usually do so because they are crying out for help. You report that the financial incentive "could encourage teachers to learn the reasons behind a child's bad behavior." But as teachers we have a professional and moral responsibility to help children become the best that they can be with or without a bonus.

Yes, teaching is hard work, and it is becoming harder due to the complexities of the hardships many families are undergoing today. But that is part of the job, and always has been. Simply "keeping children in school" while rewarding good behavior has no lasting effect. It makes the attendance record of the school look better, but the children aren't being given the specialized instruction and services that will motivate them to become well -behaved learners.

I couldn't believe that this program was funded with $695,000 in federal Race to the Top Funds. Think of the additional personnel that could be hired to work directly with children, families and schools. The funds could have been better spent on additional mental health support, social workers and guidance counselors for these troubled children and their families.

Shirley Gordon

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