In The Press
Manuel Justiz, the former director of the National Institute of Education, ranks right up there with Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, Larry Bird, Garry Trudeau, Eddie Murphy, and Jessica Lange as one of the "men and women under 40 who are changing the nation," according to the December issue of Esquire.
The magazine selected these notables and more than a hundred others for its second annual "Register" of outstanding young Americans.
Mr. Justiz--who helped prepare A Nation at Risk and is now a professor of education at the University of South Carolina--is described as "an outspoken leader who doesn't hesitate to criticize the status quo.''
Several other educators also made Esquire's list: Steven Ballowe, a Hilton Head, S.C., principal credited with turning around the troubled McCracken High School; Susan Gendrich, Tennessee's 1985 teacher of the year, chosen for her role in helping the Bradley grade school in Murfreesboro cope with an influx of Asian students; Brian Ludwig, a wheelchair-bound football coach at St. John's High School in Beloit, Kan.; and Sherry Turkle, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty member who wrote The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit.
The magazine also noted the achievements of Shayne Del Cohen, a Fallon, Nev., "community developer" who helped reduce a high dropout rate among students on Indian reservations, and Rokelle Lerner and Barbara Naiditch, counselors in St. Paul, Minn., who started "Children Are People," an educational program for children of alcoholics.
Since being cited in an article in the November Reader's Digest, the Reading Reform Foundation--a nonprofit group that promotes the phonics method of teaching reading--has received "a thousand letters a day" requesting information on phonics, according to Bettina Rubicam, president of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based organization.
In the article, "Why Our Children Aren't Reading," Edward Ziegler, a senior editor of the magazine, discusses favorably the "phonics-first" method of reading instruction popularized by Rudolf Flesch. Mr. Ziegler, noting Mr. Flesch's criticism of the widely used look-and-say method, exhorts parents: "Find out what system your local schools use and demand phonics-first."
At the conclusion of the article, the Digest advises readers to write the Reading Reform Foundation for more information.
The Ziegler piece was promoted with full-page ads in The New York Times and The Washington Post. The headline for the ads reads: "Look, Dick, look. Look why Dick can't read. Dick can't read if he's taught like this."
In the Fall 1985 issue of The Public Interest, contributors mark the influential conservative journal's 20th anniversary with retrospective looks at aspects of American politics and society over the past two decades. Three writers devote some of their attention to education.
To James Q. Wilson, professor of government at Harvard University and professor of management at the University of California at Los Angeles, the most significant development in public policy in the past 20 years has been a growing awareness that many public problems can be addressed only "if they are seen as arising out a defect in character formation."
In "The Rediscovery of Character: Private Virtue and Public Policy,'' Mr. Wilson observes that this concern for character has had an impact on education through "effective schools" research, which confirms the importance of a strong school "ethos." Mr. Wilson argues that "a good school is one that takes up and continues in a constructive manner" the development of character begun in the family.
Irving Kristol, co-editor of the quarterly, asserts in "Skepticism, Meliorism, and The Public Interest" that despite proof that the children of working-class and poor families achieve more in traditional, structured schools, "any such approach ... meets massive resistance from our educational establishment." He attributes this resistance to the dominance of "progressive" educational theory for half a century, and to what he considers the tendency of educators to find teaching the basics unappealing.
One way to overcome such opposition, Mr. Kristol says, is to offer parents more choice among types of schools. He contends that while proposals for choice vary, "one does have the impression that, on the level of ideas, this battle is at least half won."
In "Interests and Passions," Nathan Glazer, the magazine's other co-editor, traces the emergence in American politics of "the social issue"--a collection of concerns that includes forced busing, school prayer, and abortion. Each controversy began, he writes, with federal courts imposing new standards that conflicted with community practices and desires.
"A society without a sense of history is like an individual without memory," writes Diane Ravitch, the well-known education historian, in the Nov. 17 issue of The New York Times Magazine. Though she expresses doubt in "Decline and Fall of Teaching History" that "there ever was a golden age when students were well versed in American history," or any other history, she laments the steady erosion of history's place in the public-school curriculum and warns of the danger of historical ignorance in a democratic society.
History courses have been squeezed out of the curriculum by social studies, an area so ill-defined as to be "easily invaded by curricular fads," argues Ms. Ravitch, who is involved in planning a National Assessment of Educational Progress study of 17-year-olds' knowledge of American history.
She quotes a social-studies teacher who told her: "Our students don't see the relevance to their own lives of what dead people did." Yet, after observing an American-studies class as it endured a lesson in contemporary state government, Ms. Ravitch concludes: "Watching their impassive faces, I thought that a discussion of the Crusades or the Salem witchcraft trials or slavery would be infinitely more interesting, and relevant, to their adolescent minds."
"Blacks themselves" must take the lead in assuring that black children receive an education that will prepare them to work and live in a "rapidly changing society and world," argues M. Carl Holman, president of the National Urban Coalition, in the October issue of Ebony.
"We must mobilize all our forces and begin again at the beginning, in the preschool and elementary school, to educate our children for technological survival and maximum economic self-sufficiency," says Mr. Holman in "How To Stop the Miseducation of Black Children." He calls on black churches, clubs, fraternities, sororities, fraternal orders and auxiliaries, businesses, and professional groups "to provide the help minority children, parents, and schools so badly need."
Another recent article urges that blacks reconsider some of the commonly accepted reasons and remedies for the problems of poor blacks. In "Beyond Civil Rights," in the Oct. 7 The New Republic, Glen C. Loury, professor of political economy at Harvard University, argues that the lagging economic condition of black Americans is due not so much to racial discrimination as it is to "the nature of social life within poor black communities."
Furthermore, he continues, problems such as welfare dependency and the disproportionate rate at which blacks drop out of high school "have taken on a life of their own, and cannot be effectively reversed by civil-rights strategies."
Mr. Loury cites two instances in which he believes such strategies have failed to help--and, in fact, have hurt--black students: the imposition of court-ordered racial quotas for the Boston Latin School and a court ruling that teachers in Ann Arbor, Mich., undergo sensitivity training aimed at helping them better instruct students who use black English.
The use of racial preference to "equalize" the situation of blacks "can actually destroy the good that is being sought on behalf of those initially unequal," Mr. Loury concludes. "It would seem that, where the high regard of others is being sought, there is no substitute for what is to be won through the unaided accomplishments of individual persons."
In "Punishment Versus Discipline" in the November issue of The Atlantic, Bruno Bettelheim, the eminent psychologist and author, addresses the issue of how best to encourage good behavior in children.
The original definition of discipline, Mr. Bettelheim notes, "refers to an instruction to be imparted to disciples." He continues: "When one thinks about this definition, it becomes clear that one cannot impart anything, whether discipline or knowledge, that one does not possess oneself." The parent-teacher, he maintains, must understand that discipline can be taught only by example.
Citing a Swedish study that analyzed the homes of law-abiding and delinquent teen-agers, Mr. Bettelheim points to the finding that "neither material assets nor social class exercised a statistically significant influence on the behavior of these young people." Rather, the important factor was the atmosphere of the home--whether the youths' parents were self-disciplined and lived in accord with the values they professed, or instead tried to instill in their children values they themselves did not live by.
Rural Nebraska's 350 one-room schools are not an exercise in nostalgia but a reflection of the future of education, argues Mark M. Kindley, in the October 1985 issue of Smithsonian.
"Peer-group teaching" and "multi-age grouping" are but two of the progressive ideas that occur naturally in a one-room school, writes Mr. Kindley in "One-Room Schools: Down, But Not Out."
"As more one-room schools are closed, it's getting harder to see what's being lost and easier to lose it," he says. But the one-room school plays an important role in the hearts of those who farm the prairies, he notes, because "it was the place where rural culture was forged; without it they fear their culture will vanish like an early-morning dream."
The United States is not the only North American country grappling with the issue of state aid to religious schools. State support for Catholic high schools was the pivotal issue in this year's legislative elections in the Canadian province of Ontario, accord-ing to an article by Reg Whitaker, a York University political scientist, in the October issue of This Magazine, a publication of the Toronto-based Red Maple Foundation.
Under a longstanding arrangement, Ontario's Catholic schools are government-subsidized through grade 10. The Tory party's proposal to extend funding through the remainder of high school--seen as an effort to gain support from a growing Catholic minority--backfired among the party's traditional anti-Catholic supporters, asserts Mr. Whitaker in "The Death of Public Education."
The Tories were ousted after 42 years in power. But the expanded subsidy apparently will be implemented anyway, according to Mr. Whitaker, who makes the case against "privatizing" education.
Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers, sounds off about "The Lot of Teachers" in National Lampoon's November ''Mad as Hell" issue. Mr. Shanker and 104 other well-known Americans were invited to let off steam about such pet peeves as mirrors (Gov. Mario M. Cuomo of New York), misuse of the telephone (the comedienne Phyllis Diller), and "misguided liberals" (the columnist Nat Hentoff).
What sets the aft president's teeth on edge is people who "pontificate" about teaching without really knowing anything about it. He says he gets "madder than hell" when he reads or hears "a prescription for the teaching profession offered by someone who hasn't stood in front of a class since he recited 'Jabberwocky' in the 6th grade." Suitable punishment for such people would be to "whisk" them to "an eighth-period freshman high-school English class on a Friday afternoon," Mr. Shanker writes.
Vol. 05, Issue 13, Page 18