Education Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

February 28, 1990 6 min read

David Alpaugh Los Angeles, Calif.

There are so many grounds on which I disagree with the University of California at Los Angeles’s administrators in their efforts to remove the Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School from the university’s campus that I will refrain from summarizing them all here (“Despite Objections, ucla Weighs Shifting Lab School to Local District,” Jan. 17, 1990).

As an architect and educational-facilities planner, however, I cannot let Cheryl Fagnano’s gratuitous comment regarding the school’s current buildings go unchallenged.

U.es occupies buildings designed by Richard Neutra, one of the foremost American architects of his time and an innovator in school design in particular. The buildings were designed and built over a 10-year period, and each demonstrates a different approach to school planning.

All of them exhibit the architect’s strong emphasis on indoor-outdoor relationships, and they have served well u.e.s.'s experimentations with various programs over the years, from progressive-experiential education to team teaching.

Indeed, it could be argued that the buildings themselves facilitated the development of some of these programs through the possibilities they presented.

You report that, according to Ms. Fagnano--in a view presumably shared by Lewis Solmon, dean of the graduate school of education--these buildings “cannot accommodate the kinds of advances in instructional technology revolutionizing education.”

Yes, the wiring is old and inadequate to support computer networking and other technologies.

But that is hardly an argument to destroy these historically and architecturally valuable buildings and move u.e.s. off campus.

In fact, new cable conduits could easily be incorporated into the covered walkways connecting all of the school’s major buildings.

This is just one more example of the self-serving arguments that have been coming out of the graduate school and the u.c.l.a. administration since the school-relocation issue was first proposed.

Their real reasons are money and land. U.c.l.a. wants the current u.e.s. site for something more “prestigious” than education and thinks that moving the school to a public-school district will unburden the university’s budget in favor of some other source of public funds.

Angie Sheldon Jerome M. Sheldon Beverly Hills, Calif.

We are opposed to moving the Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School to Santa Monica.

A laboratory school such as u.e.s. would not be able to function effectively in a public-school setting.

We have had three children at the school and have found the unique focus of a progressive lab school to have fostered a strength of character that would not have been duplicated in a public school.

Our oldest son found that a school with the capability of deciding to teach unicycling is one that can stimulate students into seeking a step beyond mediocrity. He is now working on attaining his pilot’s license.

The lack of academic stress and a constant homework load allowed our children to pursue extracurricular activities, such as ice hockey, for which they would not have had time and motivational support in a public elementary school.

Our daughter has had the support of an excellent staff at u.e.s. for her ice-skating endeavors as well as her reading needs; she brought her reading skills from low 1st-grade to 5th-grade level in one school year.

Would a public-school system be able to take all of this into account?

It would be a shame to destroy a gem of a school to ease expansion at the University of California at Los Angeles.

It would seem that the school of education and the chancellor would have a little more vision. They should see that scrapping a project of educational research such as u.e.s. would be similar to discontinuing cancer research because we need the room to build a tennis court.

Wynn Miller Marina Del Rey, Calif.

The proposal to move the Corinne A. Seeds University Elementary School to the Santa Monica-Malibu school district is wrong.

In the short run, Santa Monica may get a new building, but in the long run, a world-famous laboratory school will lose its ability to freely innovate and experiment.

Without that freedom, it will be much more difficult to bring sorely needed change to education.

We believe our child is receiving an education substantially different from that found in most public schools today.

It is important to us that u.e.s. be allowed and indeed encouraged to explore new ways of teaching children and running a school.

Michael Barlow President Barlow & Associates Inc. Oklahoma City, Okla.

As I review the article “nea Assails Board’s Policy on Prerequisites for Certification” (Jan. 17, 1990), I fear that credibility for the work of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards is in jeopardy.

I have no quarrel with the National Education Association’s objection to the board’s present position regarding the complicated issue of national certification standards.

I am, however, concerned with the n.e.a.'s attempts to control the votes of board members who hold n.e.a. membership.

As the article points out, Mary Hatwood Futrell is the official n.e.a. representative on the board, and I believe that she is the only person who would be justified in voting the n.e.a. line.

I am not suggesting that the n.e.a. or other education organizations should not lobby for the standards they believe are important.

I do believe that when teachers are appointed to a body such as the board, they should serve as teachers and not as organizational activists or rubber stamps.

Nancy Jewell, vice president of the Oklahoma Education Association and a member of the national board, is quoted as stating, “I am prepared to make the strongest case I can for recognition of the state certification and licensure process.”

This is of great interest to me, since she and her n.e.a. state affiliate have consistently worked to pass legislation in Oklahoma that would greatly increase the number of teachers, appointed by the o.e.a., who would be involved in determining certification and licensure standards.

The main reason the legislation has failed to become law is the realization that increasing the participation of teachers really means increasing the participation--or control--of the o.e.a.

Teachers deserve the professional recognition and status they are achieving through the efforts of the national board.

In Oklahoma, increased teacher participation in all aspects of the profession could enhance our state’s programs.

If the n.e.a. and its state affiliates would allow teachers to serve as independent, free-thinking professionals, teacher input would be heard instead of being viewed as tainted and often rejected.

Richard J. Bradley Executive Director New England Association of Schools and Colleges Winchester, Mass.

President Bush’s offering an ambitious set of education goals without addressing the financial implications of implementing programs to meet those goals is ludicrous (“Bush’s Education Goals Not Final, Governors Say,” Feb. 7, 1990).

Educators are now in the 10th year of a national governmental position that young people can be prepared for competition in this world by educators using magic and mirrors. It cannot be done.

The fact is that the nation’s citizenry is not truly committed to high-quality education.

If it were, we would not have political figures finding money to help other good causes--for example, rebuilding Panama or financially supporting several Eastern European countries--and not demanding that funds be found to educate this country’s young people.

Until we marshal forces to demand that education be the top priority, we can expect that the President and state and local political leaders will proclaim support for education when, in fact, their remarks are nothing more than rhetoric.

A version of this article appeared in the February 28, 1990 edition of Education Week as Letters to the Editor