I'd like to know on what basis the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey concludes that school failures are not because of the students but because of the quality of instruction. How many years has the Rev. Reginald T. Jackson worked as a teacher in an inner-city high school ("Graduation test results reveal teaching problem," Monday)?

For seven years, I taught at one with more than 2,000 students, and on back-to-school night, the faculty (about 125) outnumbered the parents every year.

Through all the noisy debate about education, it is rare that anyone addresses the role of the parents, and I don't think I've heard anyone speak to the students about their responsibilities.

My three decades of teaching have taken me to city, suburban, public, private, rich, poor, and in-between schools. I've met a small number of bad or lazy teachers. I've met thousands of lazy students of all races and socio-economic backgrounds. I've also met many parents who made excuses for their children's behavior or lack of work.

I agree it is imperative that the state (and federal government) address this problem, but not, as Jackson says "so that we do not again have thousands of students unable to share in what should be one of the high points in their lives." This sounds like the main problem is that the students won't be able to go to graduation. We as a society need to take education more seriously so we can get people out of poverty and keep them out of prison.

Michael Robinson

Collings Lakes