Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
David Weinberger reads a story to his kindergarten English Language Development class at Backman Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011.

I read with disappointment a recent editorial ("Choice and accountability in education," Dec. 18). I have been involved in education my entire life — as a student, educator and board member — and have seen criticism leveled at public education for almost the same number of years. After the launch of Sputnik, Americans were wringing their hands about our schools, and the assault continues.

New Zealand is just another country that appears to be doing better than we are. However, it might be noted that the average class size in New Zealand in their secondary schools is 1:13.5, and the average yearly salary for a teacher with a bachelors degree is $47,683.00. The average yearly wage in New Zealand is $27,000. It also might be well to note that educational reformer Michelle Rhee and Mayor Adrian Fanty set out to give choice to Washington, D.C., patrons and to initiate a program of accountability. The mayor was not reelected and Rhee was not rehired.

There are three irrefutable facts concerning public schools: (1) American schools attempt to do something that no other country in the world attempts to do, educate every child that enters their school's doors, regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status or intellectual ability. (2) Parents love their neighborhood schools. (3) A good teacher is the most important element in the education of a child.

Acknowledging these facts might be the place where dialogue about educational reform should begin.

Donna Barnes