Letters to the Editor
Paula Spruill Monterey, Calif. To the Editor:
I have many reservations about President Bush's support for public-school "choice" ("Parley on 'Choice,' Final Budget Mark Transition," Jan. 18, 1989).
Choice plans could have a number of negative effects on public schools.
Teachers would have to become experts at selling their schools in order to attract more students. But every minute they spend promoting their schools is a minute taken away from the classroom.
And parental choice would widen the gap between poor and wealthy school districts.
Starting with an overwhelming advantage because they have better facilities and resources, wealthy districts would naturally attract more students.
Conversely, schools in poorer districts would experience declining enrollments. The resulting loss of income would make it harder for these schools to improve.
If parents were required to pay for transportation costs, poorer families might not be able to afford to send their children to a better school in another district.
We need to give all children opportunities, not just a select few.
Too often, parents base their opinion of a school on factors that may not accurately measure a school's educational worth--for4example, test scores or the wealth of the surrounding neighborhood.
Instead, parents need to look at the quality of instruction being offered at the school.
Their perceptions might change if they spent more time in their child's classroom, talking and working with the teacher.
More parental involvement would help to strengthen the connection between home and school.
Alfred L. Miller Director of Development Christian Educators Association International Pasadena, Calif.
In your article "California Policy Calls for Curb on Science 'Dogma'" (Jan. 25, 1989), you have either misunderstood or twisted the intent of the new policy.
The article fails to recognize the fact that neither evolution nor creation will be taught dogmatically.
Both fall under the category of "dogma," because both are outside ''observable facts and testable hypotheses"; both require a measure of faith that goes beyond scientific fact.
If you doubt that this is the position of the California Board of Education and the previous court directive, you have overlooked the Jan. 12-13, 1989, issue of Board Highlights, which states that to teach evolution dogmatically would be contrary to the board's intent.
For some, belief in evolution requires a great deal more "faith" than belief in creation. The intent of the policy is to ensure that the teaching of science will deal with "scientific fact," not scientific speculation.
The "strong signal" to textbook publishers is to avoid dogmatism in either area.
Science teachers are encouraged to focus on observable facts and resist pressure from either side when it comes to interpretation.
I trust that in the future, you will more accurately identify both of the elements of "dogma" that are interjected into the teaching of science: evolution and creation.