Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
Shame on those New York City school districts that have refused to use part of the "Children of the Rainbow'' curriculum, which attempts to foster tolerance and respect for all types of family constellations, including gay- and lesbian-headed families ("1st Grade Guide Dealing With Homosexuals Stirs Flap in N.Y.,'' Oct. 21, 1992).
As an educator, I am angry and embarrassed by those educators and school board members who view education in its most self-serving form. Education should be a process whereby children and adults acquire knowledge based on thought and study. Thoughtless, blind, and unjustifiable knowledge represents a contradiction in terms. To purposely omit factual, unbiased information on gay- and lesbian-headed families is contradictory to the purposes of education.
The thinking of some school districts that acceptance of the "Children of the Rainbow'' curriculum suggests approval of homosexuality is based on decades of mythology, not fact. To say (as one of the officials quoted in the story did) that this curriculum is an attempt by the gay community to "proselytize'' 1st graders is as foolish as saying that a discussion of other children's cultural or religious beliefs is tantamount to attempts at conversion or recruitment to that culture.
In addition, to believe that no child should be taught anything contrary to his or her moral or religious code because it is an invasion of religious freedom and privacy is similar to the thinking not too long ago in this country that discussions about blacks' rights were an invasion of the rights of white people.
Sadly enough, those who so vehemently reject discussing gay and lesbian families in school bear in part some of the responsibility for encouraging the intolerance and violence often directed at these families.
In speaking of children, teachers, and parents, Jawaharlal Nehru put it most clearly when he said the following:
"[Children] do not think of differences amongst themselves, differences of class or caste or color or status. They are wiser than their fathers or mothers. As they grow up, unfortunately, their natural wisdom is often eclipsed by the teaching and behavior of their elders. At school they learn many things which are no doubt useful, but they gradually forget that the essential thing in life is to be human and kind and playful and make life richer for ourselves and others.''
Joseph M. Russo
Forest Hills, N.Y.
To the Editor:
I was not pleased with your Oct. 7, 1992, issue. In fact, I was insulted.
I am both a Christian and a secular public school teacher. I am not a member of the Citizens for Excellence in Education, the group cited in the offending story, but I do agree with their stance that our public schools are in desperate need of restoration in "academic excellence, Godly morals, and traditional American values in the classroom'' ("Christian Activists Set Their Sights on School Board Seats,'' Oct. 7, 1992).
What upset me about this article was its seemingly neutral stance when, in actuality, it represented an attack against the ãŸåŸåŸ and so-called "religious-right organizations.'' What do you think the average reader will surmise from comments such as these: "The National ðôá also recently issued a 'Guide to Extremism' to help its members combat groups that 'try to impose their values and views on others.'''
There were no examples of how the C.E.E. or other Christian organizations, such as "Moms In Touch,'' have benefited schools and school systems.
I teach 1st grade in a district that adopted the debated Impressions series before it became an "issue.'' There were sections in the series I felt uncomfortable using in my classroom due to my beliefs. The older-grade-level stories worried me even more. They talked of "casting spells,'' for instance.
Proponents of Impressions say that "witches and the casting of spells is more of a myth than a reality.'' Then tell me why in Tucson, Ariz., as well as in other U.S. cities, Wiccan organizations (a society for practicing witches and warlocks) publicly claim to cast spells?
The present wave of school restructuring and improving the curriculum would do well to get a handle on this Pandora's box.
Janet A. Hale
To the Editor:
As the coordinator of the private-education accreditation-recognition working group described in your article "Accrediting Agencies for Private Schools Seeking Recognition'' (Nov. 4, 1992), I'd like to compliment you on your objectivity, accuracy, and tenacity. The article was well-researched.
However, there is one clarification that needs to be made. Although you are correct in reporting that the National Catholic Educational Association did not attend the meeting, you failed to note that only private-education associations which administer their own accreditation programs were invited (with the exception of the Council for American Private Education, whose representative, Joyce McCray, attended as an observer).
The N.C.E.A. does not administer an accreditation program. In addition, Catholic-school organizations which do accredit their member schools and organizations, such as the National Federation of Nonpublic School State Accrediting Associations (a consortium of Catholic, Lutheran, Christian, and other private schools involved in the self-accreditation process) were involved in the conference call prior to the September meeting. They've since reaffirmed their interest in exploring this concept.
As you stated, the working group is unsure what the future holds for it. However, we are pleased that Education Week covered the meeting so thoroughly. We hope you will continue to follow our efforts.
Charles J. O'Malley
Charles J. O'Malley & Associates