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To the Editor:

I agree with Catherine Belter ("Message to Reduce TV Violence Becoming Louder, Clearer,'' Nov. 3, 1993) that the time has come for further action to reduce the violence on television. Children spend more time watching TV than in any other activity, except sleep. By the age of 18, the average child has spent about 165,000 hours in front of a TV set. The same child will spend less than 13,000 hours in school.

In addition to lobbying Congress to reduce TV violence, parents and educators need to take a more active role on the local level. As Albert J. Solnit, a psychiatrist at the Yale University Child Studies Center, has observed: "You carefully choose your neighborhood, your child's school, his pediatrician. You monitor his teachers, coaches, friendships. Why should you pay any less attention to television?''

Parents and educators can make television a more positive influence on their children by:

  • First, limiting a child's television time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends keeping the viewing time to two hours or less a day.
  • Second, watch and discuss television programs with your children. Fred Rogers, the host of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood,'' tells this anecdote: "A young child came up to me one day and asked, 'How did you get out of the TV?' Ever since then I've been concerned with how to help children understand that television pictures are only pictures.''
  • Third, keep in mind quality as you select programs for your child to view. High-quality programming includes documentaries, ballet, and classic movies.
  • Fourth, become an advocate for more educational programming to replace the violent programs. Many stations across the country are making only a token effort to present educational programming by airing shows at early hours. The 1990 Children's Television Act requires stations to serve the educational and informational needs of children.

Edward R. Murrow, the father of news broadcasting, concluded this about TV: "This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise, it is merely wires and a light in a box.''

Reed Markham
College of Arts Retention and Enhancement
Services Program
California State Polytechnic University
Pomona, Calif.

To the Editor:

The article "Home Schooling, Vouchers on Voters' Minds in Va.'' (Oct. 27, 1993) was not entirely accurate.

George F. Allen, the Republican Governor-elect, did not propose tax breaks for home schooling or vouchers to students from low-income families to attend the public or private school of their choice. In his Champion Schools Initiative, he did state that he would not oppose any locally devised pilot plan that included some form of voucher for specific services.

The stands of the Democratic candidate, Mary Sue Terry, did not win her the backing of the 52,000-member Virginia Education Association. Her stands won her the backing of the less-than-140-member Virginia Education Association Political Action Committee, whose members are also V.E.A. members. V.E.A.PAC members are the chairmen and chairwomen of local and regional education-association political-action committees and the executive committee they elect.

In Virginia, endorsement of state-office political candidates is done by V.E.A.PAC, not the V.E.A. Endorsement of local-office political candidates is done by local education PAC's, not local education associations. There is quite a difference. PAC members are education-association members; however, not all education-association members are PAC members. Almost as many of Virginia's teachers are Republicans as are Democrats, a V.E.A. survey shows.

Michael Farris, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, was identified in your story as calling for school vouchers and tax credits for home schooling. In actuality, he called for tax credits for parents of school-age children who attend other than a public school.

Although biased political reporting occurs in many newspapers, we educators are accustomed to relying on your accuracy.

Laura D. Fortune
Chair, Teacher Advisory Council to the Republican Party of Virginia
Member V.E.A.PAC Executive Committee
Evington, Va.

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