What's the rush to ratify Balto. teacher contract?

In response to the Sun's article "Some city teachers protest pact vote" (Oct. 12), I couldn't help but be concerned about the rushed persistence by the union to ratify a new contract.

Beyond that I would like to add that it is shortsighted to believe our public schools would be better off if we rely only on the things that testing can measure. Not everything important to a meaningful education can be quantified. Should we simply ignore a student's ability to critically think, ignore their ability to raise creative questions, to seek alternative explanations, to pursue knowledge outside the rote preparation for tests? Do we not value individualism, the spirit of inquiry and discovery, the spirit of dissent that has made immeasurable contributions throughout history to our society?

No one to my knowledge is saying that math and reading are unimportant, but should we not expect more from our children than learning basic skills?

Merely mastering basic skills won't prepare students for higher education, and it won't prepare them for the real world. Without a rich comprehensive liberal arts education, our children will not be prepared for citizenship, nor will they be able to use the power of debate and reason to make sound decisions.

Furthermore, we cannot pretend we do not see the disadvantages built into poverty that affect a child's ability to learn despite any measure of a teacher's proficiency. It is time to reevaluate our approach, not a time to ramrod a new contract through without careful debate and analysis. Teaching to the test is a failed policy. So too is pitting teachers in affluent areas of the city against teachers in areas of crime ridden poverty. Let's work together, teacher, union and administration, to lead the way in innovative policies that will set an example for the rest of the country, not fall victim to the obvious trappings of myopic unproven easy ways out.

Steve Weaver, Baltimore

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