Education Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

October 24, 1984 7 min read

For more than two years, I have been researching the subject of asbestos as a full-time occupation. Because I come from a background of journalism and because I recently co-authored a book on asbestos, I have been in contact with an unusually large number of reporters attempting to write on this topic.

I have provided information on asbestos to two of the major television networks in New York, The New York Times, magazines, union publications, and newspapers across the country.

These contacts have often been frustrating because ultimately the reporters largely failed to grasp or convey the full complexity of the problem of asbestos in buildings. In several cases, newspapers got it completely wrong and printed inaccurate information that continues to confuse parents, teachers, and other people grappling with the asbestos issue. Most frequently, reporters have so boiled down their writing on this subject that, while not technically inaccurate, their reports have provided little usable information.

Your recent issue was, therefore, quite a surprise for me. In the eight-page asbestos supplement (“The Asbestos Dilemma,” Education Week, Sept. 26, 1984), you have produced the single most coherent, lucid, and accurate overall picture of the issue of asbestos in schools yet printed in a periodical.

You have performed an extraordinary service to a public that has been abandoned by both the federal and state governments--a public that desperately needs good information to make intelligent, safe decisions about schools and other asbestos-containing buildings.

Congratulations for such superb reporting.

Hoag Levins SourceFinders Information Corporation Voorhees Township, N.J.

To the Editor:

In his recent commentary, Douglas D. Noble expresses skepticism about computers favorably revolutionizing education (“Jumping Off the Computer Bandwagon,” Education Week, Oct. 3, 1984).

It’s as if he ignored the 1932 annual report of William John Cooper, the U.S. Commissioner of Education, hailing the “new revival of learning” expected with the advent of the newest technological marvel of that era--the radio--which he says “has captured the imagination of the entire civilized world.”

Let the doubters of educational reform through the technology of radio just tune across the radio bands today and enjoy the educational feast!

Fred W. Decker Emeritus Faculty Oregon State University Arlington, Va.

To the Editor:

File this under the category, “It Was Bound to Happen.”

After two weeks of studying clocks and telling time, the teacher told the class to prepare for a quiz. Her directions were, “Take out a sheet of tablet paper and a pencil. When I give you a time, draw a clock with that time on it!”

Here is one test paper.

By the way, Walter made 100!

Ronald P. Sykes Headmaster Trinity Episcopal Day School Natchez, Miss. To the Editor:

Barbara Ballou’s recent commentary on the subject of the National Education Association’s involvement in politics (“How Does a Partisan Teachers’ Union Fairly Represent All of Its Members?,” Education Week, Oct. 10, 1984) can most benevolently be described as naive, anachronistic, and Alice-in-Wonderland thinking. The views she expresses are stereotypes and demonstrate a complete absence of any missionary spirit for the advancement of public education.

She may have spent her entire life being a victim of her own altruism, but I can report to you that today’s generation of teachers sees life quite differently, much to the advancement of educational excellence for the students we are all pledged to serve.

Angelo Iacono UniServ Representative Pennsylvania State Education Association Allentown, Pa. To the Editor:

Thank you for the recent commentary by Stuart A. Rosenfeld (“Vocational Agriculture: A Model for Education Reform,” Education Week, Sept. 26, 1984).

Mr. Rosenfeld should have discovered, after five years of examining the vocational-education system, that there are a number of very fine youth organizations in existence that are the equal of the Future Farmers of America in almost all of the aspects that he referred to. The Distributive Education Clubs of America, Office Education Assocation, Vocational Industrial Clubs of America, and Health Occupations Students Assocation are all very vibrant, active organizations that provide students with a great number of intracurricular activities and experiences in their pursuit of a career.

One must remember that even though the training a student receives in an auto-body fender and repair class may seem very narrow, it truly is not so. If one takes a look at the “career clusters"--the many occupations that are related to a single occupation--it can readily be seen that vocational offerings are not narrow at all, but open quite a number of career opportunities.

I heartily agree that academic reform should not be at the expense of vocational education. A look at the fastest-growing occupations from 1982-1995 indicates that a great number of occupations will not be acquired through a B.S. or M.S. degree, but through technical training that can be found in many secondary vocational programs.

These programs, if properly taught and conducted, have intracurricular activities that provide social and educational experience that will be required in the world of work, whether it be in one’s own business or as the employee of another.

If there is a question about whether or not club activities are important, one should make it a point to visit the national competitions of each of the aforementioned youth organizations. I truly believe that these are indicative of the excellence found in vocational education and that vocational education itself is a model for educational reform.

Don Piper Director, Vocational Education North Lawrence Vocational-Technical Center Bedford, Ind. To the Editor:

In a recent story, you reported on the study by the National Committee for Citizens in Education (“Chapter 2 Benefits Private Schools, New Study Finds,” Education Week, Sept. 5, 1984). There were several erroneous comments in this article concerning the participation of private-school students and teachers in the Chapter 2 program.

First, private schools do not receive funds or assistance under the block-grant program. Rather, these funds are provided to the local education agency for the benefit of all schoolchildren, including those in private elementary and secondary schools. The lea is required by statute to provide equitable service to students in the private schools in its geographic area. Again, no benefit flows to the private schools.

Further, the funds used to serve private-school students are actually generated by those students since they are included in the district’s count of school-age children. Therefore, these are not funds that otherwise would be available to assist public-school students if the lea were not required to serve private elementary- and secondary-school students.

Your article on the study indicates that only one [Title IV (b)] of the 28 programs consolidated into Chapter 2 “allowed aid to private schools.” Actually, under 22 of the 28 Education Department programs that were consolidated, lea’s were required to provide equitable services to private-school students. It is probably true that private-school students are receiving a higher level of services under Chapter 2 than they did under the various antecedent programs. However, this is largely because lea’s did not fulfill their statutory responsibilities to serve these students. This is particularly true with regard to the smaller categorical programs, such as those previously authorized under Title III of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

We have not had an opportunity to carefully review the recent study by the National Committee for Citizens in Education. However, it is troublesome that they have elected to rely on the data recently presented by the American Association of School Administrators in that organization’s study of the Chapter 2 program. We have serious problems with aasa’s methodology and with its analysis of Chapter 2 requirements. The Education Department plans to release a response to the aasa study in the near future that will provide some new data on the issue of private-school student participation. (See story on page 13.)

Charles J. O’Malley Executive Assistant for Private Education Education Department Washington, D.C.

Editor’s note: The news brief in question simply reported on the analysis of Chapter 2 spending by the National Committee for Citizens in Education. Mr. O’Malley is correct, however, that Title IV(b) is not the only Chapter 2 program under which funding is available for private-school students. We regret the error.

Skepticism and Computers:

Link Seen in Its Promise

And That of the Radio

A version of this article appeared in the October 24, 1984 edition of Education Week as Letters to the Editor