Letters To The Editor
I write regarding your article on our "Five-Year Follow-Up Survey of Women in Administrative/Supervisory Positions in the New York City Public Schools, 1978-83," part VII in a series on women in executive positions in the New York City government ("Number of Women Administrators Stays Same in N.Y.C.," Education Week, Jan. 18, 1984).
The article states that Marie L. DeCanio, a senior assistant in Schools Chancellor Anthony Alvarado's office, questioned the accuracy of our figures and planned to meet with us. To date, Ms. DeCanio has not requested a meeting with the Women's City Club.
It should be noted that the data used in the survey were taken from the New York City Board of Education's official list of incumbents in these positions as of June 1983. Also, although the survey has been out for more than four weeks, there has been no request from the board of education for a meeting to discuss or clarify their position regarding the findings.
In appointing a task force on sex equity, the new chancellor has demonstrated an awareness of the seriousness of the problem. We have agreed to be represented on the task force. But the fact remains that only 26 percent of women held supervisory or administrative positions in 1983, as they had in 1978, with no improvement in the gross underrepresentation of women in the school system.
We continue to call upon Mr. Alvarado and the board of education to give the highest priority to eliminating sex discrimination in the New York City Public Schools.
June L. Farmer President Women's City Club of New York Inc. New York, N.Y.
I am opposed to government support of private schools, whether religiously oriented or secular. I believe it would be fair to permit some form of tax credit to compensate the parents of private-school children for the "double taxation" for education, but I oppose this benefit because of the strings that would be attached to such a concession.
I find Joseph L. Conn's sense of fairness hard to swallow, particularly his position that public schools are religiously neutral ("Church-State Separation Is Basic to Democracy," Letters, Education Week, Jan. 18, 1984). Education is by its very nature religious. It is impossible to be religiously neutral in education--or in any other area of life, for that matter.
It is because public schools are not religiously neutral that those whose personal views are in conflict with them resent having to finance the public system and a private school to have their children educated in accordance with their own conscience.
I get rather tired of those who suggest that parents who prefer a private education over a "free public education" are somehow mentally deficient. If we really believe in diversity in education, parents and their children should be able to exercise their educational option of pursuing a private education with no greater diadvantage or stigma than others who choose what public schools have to offer. Somehow, Mr. Conn's concern for diversity in education has a hollow ring.
James W. Deuink Educational Consultant Greenville, S.C.
Your article on child abuse ("Schools Joining National Fight Against Child Abuse," Education Week, Jan. 18, 1984) was timely and important, and yet speaks to the lack of any comprehensive plan for schools to adopt or follow in addressing this national tragedy. This is why the American Humane Association, the only national nonprofit organization that addresses cruelty to both children and animals, has prepared a teacher-education program called "Violence Interferes With Learning."
Our program, which provides a training model for school districts, is designed to help clarify knowledge about the problem, explore personal attitudes about violence, develop skills in identifying and reporting, and help children at risk.
We see child abuse and neglect as hidden handicaps that interfere with a child's right to learn. Educators have spent untold millions addressing other handicaps; we think it is time to look at this less visible inhibitor. We recognize teachers' ambivalence in being policemen--it seems like a contradiction to ask a member of a caring profession to report suspected abuse. But teachers have both a moral and a legal responsibility to do so. We can help teachers work through this dilemma so they become supporters of children and not just reporters of abuse. Teachers need help in teaching children at risk. Using workshop information and materials developed by the association, which will be available to schools in April, administrators can provide teaching strategies for children who need support in order to participate in the learning process.
Thomas A. Fitzgerald Director Education and Research The American Humane Association Denver, Colo.
Laura Hersh Salganik and M. William Salganik join the swollen ranks of Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell's critics in decrying the slant of the data in the U.S. Education Department's "State Education Statistics" report ("Papering Over the Reality of Education," Education Week, Jan. 25, 1984). Regardless of the implied political motives that the authors point out, the fact remains that there are differences among the states, and the statistical breadth of population absolves the report of any bias from limited or skewed sampling.
I take particular exception to the authors' attempt to denigrate the position New Hampshire occupies in the rankings: Number one is number one--period. In a state where 92 percent of public-education costs are carried by the local tax-paying property owners (another area where New Hampshire is at one extreme end of statistical rankings), the "poverty" guidelines lose meaning as a reference point. There are no groves of money trees in our forests; our citizens simply make the effort to ensure that there is no paucity of productivity in our schools.
I will accept my state's position on Mr. Bell's list as an accolade, while allowing neither jingoism nor complacency to deter our school districts' continuing efforts to do the best we can afford to do in educating our children and maintaining a top rating. The Salganiks should be reminded that the Inquisition went out of favor some time back, and even in the 17th century, after Galileo abjured his observations before that critical body that the earth moves around the sun, he still felt compelled to comment, "E si pur muove"--But it does move. And it does. And New Hampshire is where it is on the list of its own doing, not through the alleged chicanery of statistical manipulation.
Charles J. Micciche Superintendent of Schools School Administrative Unit 58 10 Main St. Groveton, N.H.