Letters to the Editor
Willis D. Hawley Dean, George Peabody College Vanderbilt University Nashville, Tenn.
The article entitled "Few Shifts Seen in Education-School Curricula'' (June 22, 1988) succinctly presented the findings of our study of teacher-education reforms in Southern states.
But the article's emphasis and tone may be misleading.
The major purpose of the study was to identify strategies that seemed to facilitate change.
Your article suggested that few changes in curricula were occurring.
But our study reported a big increase in the amount of field-based instruction in teacher-preparation programs, and--as the article did note--the pace of change seems to be quickening.
The major finding of the study was not that education schools and programs were dragging their feet but that they were getting very little support from central administrators and others within their universities, and that state policies may be exacerbating this situation.
Let me note, too, that I conducted the study with two of my faculty colleagues at Vanderbilt, Ann Austin and Elizabeth Goldman, rather than with "two assistants."
Editor's note: The article, which covered the points the writer makes, was written from an executive summary of the research published by the Southern Regional Education Board and thus may have reflected an sreb perspective on the findings.
Fred Gibson Teacher Coachella Valley Unified School District Thermal, Calif.
The headline read "Corporal-Punishment Foes Gain Victories, See 'Best Year Ever"' (June 22, 1988). It was bad news.
The label "corporal-punishment foes" doesn't do the issue justice. If it were simply a case of insensitive brutes beating innocent children, any fool would have to be on the side of the children.
But when you get past individual cases of adult stupidity, you have to face the greater issue of social order and its enforcement.
California succumbed to a blitzkrieg by foes of corporal punishment last year, and the results have not been good.
Certainly discipline and student behavior have not improved. If what I see, hear, and read is to be trusted, some schools are in total chaos.
Outwardly such schools may even appear calm, but on the inside many teachers have virtually given up, the kids all but run the school, and police power stands ready to back up the students whenever they yell ''child abuse."
I can't match the slick propaganda the opponents of corporal punishment put out or the apparently limitless access they have to the public media.
Still, I must protest what I see as a clear and present danger to a sane society, a society that respects law-abiding behavior and loves its children enough to provide a safe and orderly environment for their growth.
In a society whose very fabric is threatened by crime, how can a group of witch-doctor psychologists convince even staunch conservatives that enforceable adult authority is somehow bad for children?
All major polls indicate that the public wants effective discipline in its schools. But teachers are being systematically stripped of authority without reasonable justification.
Too often, the "better methods of discipline" advocated by the foes of corporal punishment are nothing more than ineffective and time-consuming techniques of psychological control that have significant potential for damage in their own right.
To the Editor:
Patrick E. Graham Principal R.A. Hubbard Elementary School Courtland, Ala.
The "foes" of corporal punishment who gained victory are the foes of our children.
I am thankful my teachers used corporal punishment when I needed it. I am glad my parents loved me enough to use corporal punishment.
Norman A. Bleshman Boynton Beach, Fla.
Your article "State Special-Education Placement Patterns Vary, E.D. Finds" (June 22, 1988) carefully notes some unanswered questions.
In fact, many studies of mainstreaming have ignored a number of major considerations.
For example, do the mainstreamed students learn more academically in the mainstream than they could have in a self-contained classroom?
Do they ever catch up with the average student in their mainstreamed classes?
And what is the effect on the learning of nonhandicapped students when their teachers must disproportionately divide their time?
Do "least restrictive environments" refer to socially enabling or academically enabling environments?
And since many special-education students can experience early success in a vocational program, why are consolidated and vocational schools unreceptive to providing early starts?
A.C. Fortosis Consultant for Academic Affairs Association of Christian Schools International Grand Rapids, Mich.
Vincent Rogers's assertion that textbooks are quite acceptable to most teachers is disturbing ("School Texts: The Outlook of Teachers," Commentary, Aug. 3, 1988).
In light of Mr. Rogers's findings, recent research carried out by Paul Vitz of New York University is especially alarming.
Mr. Vitz found that out of 670 stories from 3rd- and 6th-grade readers, there was not even one reference to representative Protestant religious life.
And 6th-grade social-studies texts neglected the contributions of Jewish and Christian groups in American history, the report found.
Such words as "marriage," "wedding," "husband," and "wife" were absent from social-studies books dealing with modern American life.
These books also failed to represent mothering and homemaking as worthy and significant roles for women.
Where in the world are we going?