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March 1, 1993
Vol. 50
No. 6

Letters

Myths about Choice

I had thought all the myths about school choice had been aired, but Jonathan Kozol has given them another run (“On Savage Inequalities: A Conversation with Jonathan Kozol,” December 1992/January 1993). By doing so he has revealed his biases.
When discussing private schools, Kozol brings up Andover and Exeter—expensive and exclusive schools, representative of only a minority of private schools. How does he miss the thousands of religiously-oriented schools that are not expensive or exclusive.
Even more perplexing is his patronizing attitude about minority parents' ability to make informed choices. One need only look at the Catholic schools in South Bronx, Harlem, and Bedford-Stuyvesant to see minority students enrolled by conscious choice of parents or guardians who are making incredible sacrifices to pay tuitions of $1,600 (not $2,600) per year. A $1,000 voucher, Mr. Kozol, would indeed go a long way.
—Sister Mary Anne Brawley, Executive Director, and Sister Carol Cimino, Associate Director, Catholic School Administrators, Association of New York State, Troy, New York

Public Education: Can We Change It?

Arnold Fege asks the question, “Public Education: Can We keep It?” (November 1992). I take the view that the public is concerned with the quality of education, whether it takes place in public or private schools.
As an athlete, I was coached to be quick but not to hurry. As an educator, I'm told there is no need to be quick when it comes to making changes in education. If today's educators think that opening education to the marketplace isn't a deadly serious challenge to public education, they are wrong. Recently we have watched entire countries change leadership because of errors of thinking. Either we change or else.
We need leadership for a new national purpose for education. Although Americans have embraced the radical ideal of public education in the past, now they are looking for a radical transformation of the thinking within public education.
—Larry Baroni Payne, Instructor, Elk Creek Jr./Sr. High School, Elk Creek, California

Can We Convince Students Life is Valuable?

Congratulations on your understanding the importance of HIV/AIDS education (“Can You Save Your Students' Lives? Educating to Prevent AIDS,” Douglas Tonks, December 1992/January 1993).
His list of the six goals of HIV education is excellent; the article, however, gave very little guidance about how to “increase the percentage of students who remain sexually abstinent.” To do this, we much convince students they are important, show them their lives are valuable and their future bright enough to prepare for. What we communicate to our students about themselves is vital to the effectiveness of every kind of health education effort, including drug abuse prevention and HIV/AIDS education.
—Duane J. Crumb, Executive Director, American Institute for Teen AIDS Prevention, Fort Worth, Texas

Medical Solutions Don't Solve Educational Problems

I take exception to the reference to Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) in “What Brain Research Says about Paying Attention,” Robert Sylwester and Joo-Yun Cho, December 1992). The implication is that medical people can fix this problem, yet medical research has not yet found a biological test for this condition. The current method of evaluating it is a questionnaire of observed behaviors. Ritalin is often prescribed as a blanket fix-it, whether the child has a medical condition or not.
My major concern is that ADHD might become a special education placement category, thereby relegating children who may be difficult to deal with in the regular classroom to special education. What a disservice to these children!
—Chuck Bostrom, Principal, J-I Public Schools, Inverness, Montana

Tests Are Not Magical X-rays

I enjoyed “Using Learning Modalities to Celebrate Intelligence” (Bob Samples, October 1992). The educational profession has been obsessive-compulsive about standardized tests. Overrated, overused tests are not magical x-rays, and what is learned and what is tested are not commensurate.
Professional educators can learn a lesson from Samples' article: students learn differently; why can't they be tested differently? When we teach to learning modalities, abilities will be maximized and instructional accountability achieved.
—Robert M. Davis, Jr., School Psychologist, Albemarle County Schools, Charlottesville, Virginia

Knowledge of Heritage Empowers Students

“Afrocentric Curriculum” (Molefi Kete Asante, December 1991/January 1992) is timely. Classroom teachers need to center their students on their heritage in order to empower them. Educators need to know as much as possible about the various cultures of the children they teach.
—Lonnie C. Passmore, Sanford Middle School, Minneapolis, Minnesota

On Saving Endangered Children

I salute Willie Wright (“The Endangered Black Child,” December 1991/January 1992) for taking the initiative to implement an all-African-American male program. We cannot afford to wait for society, which places more importance on saving endangered reptiles than on our young men. We need to segregate and educate African-American males to ensure high academic achievement.
—Shawn Berry, Business Educator, Minneapolis Public Schools, Minneapolis, Minnesota

A Familiar Proposal

One of my graduate students recently asked me if I had seen “To: Thomas Jefferson, Re: Your Proposal” (Rita Deyoe-Chiullan, December 1992/January 1993). He said it would sound familiar.
I've been showing this proposal now for 20 years to my research classes. It works well around the fourth of July.
I am disappointed to see someone is apparently now claiming authorship of a piece that's been circulating for years.
—Concerned Reader, (Name withheld by request)
Editor's note: The author, too, has used this piece for years with her graduate students. She was shocked to find that a similar version of the piece she had thought of as her own had been published before (Edward Schwartz, Social Policy, July/August 1974).
She regrets the error and has made an effort to find the author to apologize. Her experience, she says, will now be a lesson for her students: “Be utterly meticulous in keeping track of sources. Articles in time might come to seem so naturally worded as to be one's own work rather than one's interpretation of another's inspiration. I hope my agonizing experience might convince my students the importance of writing down all relevant sources rather than expecting to remember them for 15–20 years.”

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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