In a recent letter to the editor, Steve Monaghan, president of the Louisiana Federation of Teachers, asserts in essence that more money will solve the problem of dismal performance in public schools. He further asserts that “grinding poverty” is the root of the problem.

I suggest that Monaghan doesn’t know what real poverty is, rather that he is only aware of relative poverty. Three-fourths of the world’s population would love to have a standard of living defined as poverty in the USA.

May I further suggest that Monaghan and those who believe as he does consider the following:

I was born in the front bedroom of a four-room, company-owned house in 1937. My birth certificate lists father’s occupation as “Ice Man.” He delivered blocks of ice door-to-door to homes and also businesses that had no refrigeration.

The only running water in the house was a cold-water faucet at the kitchen sink. The toilet was a wooden building over a hole in the ground about 50 feet from the house. The source of heat was a wood-burning fireplace, and my mother cooked on a wood-burning cast-iron stove. Clothes were washed in galvanized tubs on a scrub board.

Space limits what I am able to say, but I shall summarize as follows: I was 10 years old before I lived in a house with a toilet and a manually operated hot water heater (it was the same time that my parents bought their first refrigerator); at 13 in 1950, my parents finally bought a car, a 1941 Plymouth; and a year later finally had a “party line” telephone installed.

But while living in all of this “abject poverty,” my parents were able to send my two older sisters and me to college with what today would be minuscule financial support from government, which was all repaid.

In summary, there is poverty in this country — a poverty of morality and responsibility. Check the illegitimacy rates in those disastrous schools and you will find the root cause — homes with no father and no discipline. That lack of discipline, without which teaching and learning are impossible, extends to the classroom.

Maybe Monaghan should be calling for return of corporal punishment rather than more money!

James J. Spears Jr.

chemical engineer

Greenwell Springs