Letters: Teachers, Librarians And Juan Williams

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Talk of the Nation listeners comment on past shows, including conversations about the value of teachers' unions and the life of the prison librarian. And thousands wrote in to express their feelings about Juan Williams' firing.


It's Tuesday, the day we read from your emails and Web comments.

We heard from many teachers after our conversation with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. Jacquelyn Diaz(ph) in California wrote: Unions are not the problem. What they do is provide an organization to support employees. What a lot of so-called reformers want is to model education after private sector businesses, where most organizations hire, fire and pay without having to deal with unionized employees. It's almost comical, she writes, to think that teachers who are already the lowest-paid employees for the amount of education theyre required to have, should be asked to work without the support of a union.

But D. Glenn(ph) in Michigan said: After a 45-year teaching career, I retired and began substitute teaching. Observing many school cultures and teachers in action, Ive reluctantly had to conclude that today's unions are bad for quality education. They protect the mediocre and unmotivated, and worst of all, they've usurped from principals their proper roles as head teachers and turned former leaders into managers and paper pushers.

Avi Steinberg's experiences being a prison librarian brought this comment from Jacquelyn Weddle(ph): I've been a prison librarian for almost nine years now. I've read "Running the Books." Some of it hits the mark, some of it not quite my world. Imagine no budget and most of the donations you get are from other people's dump run. Prisoners here want "The 48 Laws of Power", too, and the "Left Behind" series has its following. My most challenging experience was being held hostage and stabbed. I was back in the facility within 48 hours, back to work in two weeks, never a dull moment for any correctional employee and prisoner alike.

Finally, we received thousands of comments about NPR's firing of news analyst Juan Williams.

James Bryan(ph) in Georgia summed up what many of you felt when he wrote: I would like to express my disappointment at the firing of Juan Williams. I've enjoyed his moderate voice on the many difficult issues facing our country. I do not always agree with his positions, but I feel we need to have an honest debate on both sides of issues.

Gloria Nunez-Herkel(ph) felt differently. She wrote: I totally support NPR for firing Mr. Williams. It was irresponsible of him to say what he said about Muslims. We would all be up and arms if a reporter on any station said what he said about another ethnic group. Muslims are the current punching bag and someone has to stand up for them.

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