Letters to the Editor
Thank you for your recent coverage of important issues in special education.
The Commentary pieces by Margaret C. Wang and Michael M. Gerber ("Weighing the 'Regular-Education Initiative','' May 4, 1988) were timely--and Mr. Gerber's analysis of what a new "initiative'' should attempt significantly advances the dialogue on this topic.
Another interesting article in the same issue ("'The Best of Both Worlds''') described a new Milwaukee school serving 195 children who have disabilities and 387 children who do not. In this story, I am quoted accurately, but in a context with which I differ, at least to some degree.
The issue concerns the placement of children with disabilities in neighborhood schools rather than schools like the one described in the article.
Lou Brown of the University of Wisconsin is said to be at "one side of the debate'' on this issue, and I, "at the other side.''
While such matters are subjective, I would place Mr. Brown at a position of 9.5 or 10 on a 10-point scale, and would place myself at 8 or 9.
I believe that, in principle, most children with disabilities can receive a "free, appropriate education,'' as called for in P.L. 94-142, in their local schools. But I am not certain that this opportunity is available for every child, or at least not for all phases in a child's education.
Our knowledge about the education and social and psychological growth of children with disabilities is still incomplete. There are reasons that some teachers, parents, and others still think they see some benefits in high-quality specialized programs that include groups of children with disabilities--particularly if there might be opportunities to develop relationships with nondisabled children as well.
We need to learn more about how to organize education to bring about our shared goals of social integration and high-quality schooling.
Edwin M. Martin
President and Chief Executive Officer
Human Resources Center
Before David T. Kearns, chief executive officer of Xerox, offers any more sophomoric proposals for the "total restructuring'' of American education ("A Business Perspective on American Schooling,'' April 20, 1988), he should recognize that the "lockstep, myopic management'' he decries is a basic premise of American corporations--along with nepotism, racism, sexism, excessive profiteering, and employee exploitation.
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and even Allan Bloom would shrink from Mr. Kearns's goals for a liberal education--which include preparing "to be an entrepreneur.''
If teachers received for their classrooms the array of perks routinely squandered by corporate management, educational materials would abound.
The "liberally educated entrepreneurs'' who manipulate the nation's largest companies have no qualms about rigging school milk prices, pandering fake apple juice, promoting alcohol abuse, and hawking "dumbed down'' textbooks, as long as the quarterly reports look good.
Please, Mr. Kearns, continue to scurry about in your Xerox limousine, charge everything on your corporate credit card, fly off to the Bahamas in a Xerox jet--and spare overburdened and underpaid educators from such homilies as, "the job of the good teacher is not to 'process' students like so many file cards, but to educate them.''
John Caruso Jr.
Western Connecticut State University
Thank you for the comprehensive manner in which you treated the release of U.S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennett's report, "American Education: Making It Work'' ("Bennett: Despite Reform, 'We Are Still at Risk','' May 4, 1988).
While presenting many responsible suggestions for improving the quality of education, this document is a major disappointment to those who work outside the classroom to facilitate learning.
Like A Nation at Risk, the report fails to give appropriate attention to the guidance and counseling needs of students.
And Secretary Bennett has overlooked the nearly 70,000 counselors in our schools, and their counterparts in the college-admission community, who contribute to the success of American education.
In doing so, he ignores the eight recommendations of the College Board Commission on Precollege Guidance and Counseling. That report cited the critical role of counseling in our schools and offered relevant suggestions for improving the quality and availability of these services.
of College Admission Counselors
The Supreme Court's recent decision not to review Klein Independent School District v. Mattox ("Court Declines Suit on Teacher's Records,'' April 27, 1988) in effect denies the right to privacy granted by the federal Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, commonly known as the Buckley Amendment.
The Court has let stand a federal appellate ruling suggesting that once a person releases his records to another party, he has given up any say in that party's use of the records.
The State of Texas should have no more right than any individual to open to the public information intended in the act of release specifically for those officials who supervise the employment of the teacher.
By declining to review this case, the Supreme Court struck a blow against the specific intent of the Buckley Amendment--the right to privacy of academic records.
The appellate ruling--that because the teacher had never been a student in the district, the Buckley Amendment did not apply--amounts to a withdrawal of students' right to privacy.
According to this logic, any release of records, except that to another school where the individual is enrolled, is tantamount to public release.
Stephen A. Harman
St. George School District
So class size makes no difference ("Class Size No Panacea, Says Study,'' April 6, 1988)?
Anyone with an ounce of brains knows better than that.
Anyone who has ever bought a football program, for instance, knows that in sports the student-teacher ratio may be as low as 5 to 1.
In contrast, teachers of academic subjects must cope with 150 or so students, 25 at a time.
As a veteran science teacher, I find Tommy Tomlinson's research on class size mostly irrelevant.
The change that would make my efforts more effective would be fewer classes and fewer subjects. I need more than the 43 minutes per day now available to write and grade tests, check homework, plan lessons, and run a lab with volunteer student help.
David T. Kearns ("A Business Perspective on American Schooling,'' Commentary, April 20, 1988) wants to keep buildings open so that teachers can work late, but I don't need more opportunities to work overtime for nothing.
When academics become as important as athletics in the eyes of policymakers, teacher load will be reduced to a level that will make high-quality education possible.
John E. Beach
Fairless High School
In response to Robert L. Maddox's letter ("Call for Catholic Schools To Teach 'Worst' Rapped,'' May 4, 1988 ), I wish to note that Catholic schools open their doors to all who wish to attend.
And in Minnesota, for example, the presence of each child in a private school saves taxpayers approximately $2,700.
In addition, those who pay the costs of private schooling are also subsidizing public education.
They realize that education that does not include the teaching of values fails to prepare our young people for the positions they will assume in society.
Is it not fair that if our users are subsidizing public programs, then at least those private programs that are not value-oriented--such as special education--should be paid for by public dollars?
Principal, Holy Trinity Catholic Schools