Education Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

April 04, 1990 6 min read

To the Editor:

I wish to respond to your article about the implementing of our “Sex Respect” curriculum in Beaufort County, S.C. (“Sex-Education Plan Urging Chastity Sparks Controversy in South Carolina,” March 14, 1990).

Most interesting was the inclusion in the article of comments by Debra Haffner of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States, who had not been in Beaufort County and had had no contact with the local officials.

On reading her remark, “If you are going to promote delaying intercourse, then you need to teach them what they can do [sexually] and be honest with them,” I wondered why you had not identified the kinds of practices Ms. Haffner advocated in place of intercourse. When I asked, I was told that “our readers know what that means.”

In the siecus Report of September/October 1988, Ms. Haffner cited, among other activities, “massaging, caressing, undressing each other, masturbation alone, masturbation in front of a partner, mutual masturbation.” In talking to Beaufort County officials and many other education authorities, I have not found any who advocate teaching such practices.

Ms. Haffner also wrote that “we can help teens understand that sex is more than intercourse and that abstinence from intercourse does not mean abstinence from all intimate expression.”

I doubt that the majority of your readers would agree with her, or that they would advocate or teach these things to our youngsters.

The “Sex Respect” program, currently in 1,200 schools, is receiving enthusiastic reports from students, teachers, and parents alike.

The criticism comes from outside groups like siecus, Planned Parenthood, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Kathleen M. Sullivan Director Project Respect Golf, Ill. To the Editor:

I read with interest Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan Jr.'s comments regarding Native American education (“Interior Dept. Sets 4 Objectives for Indian Education,” Feb. 21, 1990).

It is encouraging to note that relevancy in instruction is becoming an important issue to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’s overall educational policy.

The Yupiit School District of Akiachak, Alaska, has long felt that students’ performance is directly associated with the development of their communication skills around a meaningful and culturally relevant context.

In 1987, the district contracted with Hoffman Customized Products of Duarte, Calif., to design a reading program for grades 2 through 9 that would teach essential communication skills and build each student’s knowledge base.

Reading and language skills were developed in meaningful contexts, using information relevant to the Yup’ik students’ environment, culture, and heritage.

This approach, integrated with other instructional strategies and a sincere appreciation for the learning style of the Yup’ik Eskimo, has contributed to significant improvement in oral and written communication.

Previously unchallenged students are being motivated through the process of building Yup’ik pride and cultural appreciation.

We feel strongly that relevant education should be the theme of the 90’s.

The district’s school board, administration, teachers, and communities are encouraged by the initial results of the reading project and wish to share them with any interested school system or governmental agency.

Likewise, we are interested in collaborating with any district or agency that might be undertaking a similar program.

Interested parties should contact me at P.O. Box 100, Akiachak, Alaska 99551.

Bradley A. Raphel Superintendent Yupiit School District Akiachak, Alaska To the Editor:

At least one critic hasn’t been “quieted” by the expanded list of research centers to be established by the U.S. Education Department (“Research-Center List Apparently Quiets Many Critics,” March 21, 1990).

Once again, the office of educational research and improvement has focused almost all of its attention and dollars on the classroom and the teacher-student relationship.

Missing from the centers’ priorities is any reference to the improvement of educational guidance programs or the strengthening of counseling professionals.

Certainly our numbers appear dwarflike when compared with 2.3 million teachers, but nearly 70,000 professional counselors are hard at work in the nation’s schools.

Tens of thousands more work in admission programs, counseling centers, and other student-service activities at the postsecondary level.

Our work is important in helping students become effective learners and in ensuring that they reach their full educational and career potential.

We want to improve our performance and reach more students. When will the Education Department heed our call?

Frank Burtnett Executive Director National Association of College Admission Counselors Alexandria, Va.

To the Editor:

Robert L. Maddox’s letter (“On Uses of Public Funds in Church-Related Schools,” March 7, 1990) was as offensive to me as he claims Julie A. Binsfeld’s was to him.

His inability to see the logic of her reasoning--or mine--hardly gives him grounds to question our sanity.

If a person disagrees with a legal opinion, does that mean he is not a “sane taxpayer”?

Would Mr. Maddox question the sanity of, say, the people involved in the civil-rights movement of the past? Their challenges of not only opinions but laws have become accepted by the majority today.

I find it frustrating that people like Mr. Maddox cannot see the simple logic of the argument that an injustice is perpetuated against our parents in the name of separation of church and state.

We agree with Mr. Maddox that "[n]o one should be forced to fund religion.”

But there is no “Catholic” algebra. There’s no “Lutheran” science. “Baptist” English does not exist.

Every state I have worked in has mandated the curriculum; we elected to add religion.

We recognize that states have the right to set the minimum standard for an educated citizenry. Contrary to common opinion, our schools are accredited by the states, but only after we prove that we fulfill all of their requirements, which are quite similar to those for the public sector.

We are not asking the states to build our buildings or pay our religion teachers.

We do believe, in justice, that there should be compensation for those things mandated by the states. We’ll pay for the rest.

Brother Walter Davenport, C.S.C. President Holy Cross High School River Grove, Ill. To the Editor:

In your article “Cavazos Draws Fire After Speech in Texas” (March 14, 1990), you report that Texas Senator Cyndi Krier “questioned the Secretary’s assertion that ‘almost 60 percent of the dollars spent on education go to administration and not to the classroom.”’

According to the article, she argued that Texas “spent more than 40 percent of its education dollars directly in the classroom.”

Ms. Krier apparently felt that she had proven Lauro F. Cavazos’ statistic to be incorrect, but she had done no such thing.

For if by “almost 60 percent” Mr. Cavazos meant, say, 59 percent, and if by “more than 40 percent” Ms. Krier meant, say, 41 percent, there is no conflict.

Perhaps Ms. Krier would do well to question some of her own statistics before she questions the Secretary’s.

Richard Siegelman Teacher Roosevelt School Oyster Bay, N.Y.

A version of this article appeared in the April 04, 1990 edition of Education Week as Letters to the Editor