Letters to the Editor
Robert D. Myrick Professor of Education Counselor Education Department University of Florida Gainesville, Fla.
I read with interest Barbara Neufeld's "Making Passive Students Active" (Education Week, Nov. 10, 1982). Her remarks were directed to an important topic.
However, I believe that she may be misinformed as to the intent and results of human-relations training in the schools--or, that her experience with such approaches has been limited and much different from what we recommend in our work with "peer facilitators," young people who have successfully completed training to assist other students in their personal and academic growth.
Ms. Neufeld said that academic rigor has been replaced by human relations. Mellow-speak and mellow-think are not representative of all human-relations training. Those are just fads modeled by fuzzy-thinking opportunists who have some appeal to some of the public.
Feelings and behaviors are related. If you feel positive about something, you tend to move with more confidence in that area. If you are self-doubting and skeptical, your behavior will likely suggest a cautious, tense, and defensive approach. It makes sense that this awareness has tremendous implications for education.
Unfortunately, too many people have used ideas such as values clarification, self-concept, and personal feelings of self-satisfaction to detract from helping students to experience the learning process and to communicate more effectively with their peers and teachers.
I agree with Ms. Neufeld's idea that "... we must search for ways to draw students into the act." Perhaps she and I just differ as to how this might be done. I also agree that students must become more involved in the learning process. But I would not omit the importance of human-relations training as part of a rigorous approach to education.
Brother Donnan Berry, S.C. Assistant Principal for Development Catholic High School Baton Rouge, La.
An error: In your recent article on the "Apple Bill" (Education Week, Nov. 24, 1982), the tax writeoff that would be given to computer companies if the bill is passed would be for hardware donated to either public or nonpublic schools, not just the former, as stated in your article.
An unknown: Even though the pending legislation includes nonpublic schools, does Mr. Jobs intend to donate computers to both nonpublic and public schools, or to just the public schools? There is much confusion in the reporting on this issue and not a little concern by nonpublic-school administrators. They fear that their 5,084,297 students (10.7 percent of our nation's youngsters) will once again be slighted because their parents chose to exercise freedom of choice in education.
An accolade: Stephen Arons' commentary ("Separation of Church and State," Nov. 17, 1982) and John C. Esty Jr.'s commentary ("Compelling Belief Is Compelling," Nov. 24, 1982) demonstrate dramatically how our present system of education, to use Mr. Arons' words, "undermines the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of intellect and belief." You have done the nation a real service by publishing them.
Editor's note: We put your "unknown" to Mr. Jobs's assistant, who said the company would "try to reach as many people as possible" with its donation program, including private schools. He also noted that the company has not determined its procedures for deciding who gets donations but is "taking names and addresses."
Ann Leavenworth President California State Board of Education Sacramento, Calif.
Your article on textbook selection ("Texas Board May Hear Dissent in Textbook-Selection Process," Education Week, Nov. 24, 1982) erroneously stated that legislation recently signed by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. repealed California's textbook-adoption process. Assembly Bill 2561 does now permit school districts to order directly from publishers as you correctly reported. The adoptions process for kindergarten through grade 8, however, was left intact.
Other provisions of the statute, which takes effect with the 1983-84 year, are: districts choosing to direct-order will be subject to specified expenditure and expenditure-reporting conditions; the state adoption maximum limit was revised to exclude supplementary materials; the state board of education is authorized to adopt supplementary materials outside the maximum list; the legislative analyst, in cooperation with the state department of education, is required to review the instructional-materials process and to report on increases in funding needed to support high standards and the legal-compliance review process.