Letters to the Editor
Rosalie B. Icenhower, Teacher, Bothell, Washington
It was with utter horror, shock, and sickening disbelief that I read my own name among those listed as having received "fraudulent" degrees from Southwestern University in Tucson, Ariz. ("Recipients of 'Degrees' in Education-Related Fields," Education Week, June 5, 1985). I think it only fair that I should have the opportunity to clarify what occurred from my perspective.
I first contacted Southwestern University by telephone in late 1981 or early 1982 after seeing an adverstisement in Navy Times, as far as I recall. I had heard of various external-degree options offered by colleges and universities throughout the country--Indiana University, for instance--so I was not suspicious of the concept. I asked the registrar if the program was accredited and was assured that it was. I was also told that the state of Arizona had granted the school a legal charter and authorization to grant such degrees.
I was urged to send in all my transcripts for evaluation. Within about three weeks, I was told that graduate credits I had already earned from other colleges and universities were fully accepted and that I need only write a dissertation to earn the Ph.D. I sought. Later I asked if a how-to manual I was then writing, entitled "The Design and Implementation of Student Learning Objectives in the Elementary Schools," would be accepted as a dissertation and was told that it would be.
After 11 months of extensive research and writing, I submitted my project, along with letters of recommendation from former and current education supervisors, and other data that affirmed my qualifications. I was granted a Ph.D. in December 1982.
My teaching credentials are not based on this degree. I hold a B.A. with honors from California State College, Stanislaus, and an M.Ed. from the University of Washington. I have earned a total of approximately 356 quarter-unit credits, both graduate and undergraduate, in traditional educational settings. At no time in my life have I ever been involved in intentional fraud or deceit. As an educator, I have been widely accepted and I am respected for my integrity and high moral standards. I am a conscientious and dedicated teacher. I am a victim, not a perpetrator, of this alleged fraud.
At no time have I been contacted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other agency to inform me that my degree is not valid. Nevertheless, on the basis of your story, I will immediately drop all claim to the degree. Believe me, I want no part of it if the allegations are true.
Patrick Groff Professor of Education School of Teacher Education San Diego State University San Diego, Calif.
A 1985 report sponsored by the National Academy of Education entitled "Becoming a Nation of Readers" recommends that reading instruction stress phonics ("Reading Report Lauded, But Cited for Failure To Resolve Key Issues," Education Week, May 15, 1985). The academicians who wrote this report, mostly professors of educational psychology, obviously had read the research on phonics.
It is hardly surprising that the president and past president of the International Reading Association reacted negatively to this praise of phonics. Their displeasure with phonics is only the latest example of a continuing attempt by the ira to downgrade this type of reading instruction. For example, during a recent five-year period the association's major journal, Reading Teacher, published 28 articles that supported the work of Frank Smith and his disciples (Mr. Smith argues that phonics interfere with a student's ability to learn to read). Not one article in Reading Teacher during this time criticized Mr. Smith's views.
So much, then, for the ira president's contention that the nae report was biased in favor of phonics. To the contrary, the report, based as it is on research findings, is a desperately needed counter force in the ideological war against phonics that the ira has been carrying on for years.
Sarah E. Melendez President National Association For Bilingual Education Washington, D.C.
In response to Gerard A. Norve's letter entitled "Bilingual Educators Must Recognize the Worldwide Importance of English" (Education Week, May 22, 1985), I say, "Our point exactly!"
Members of the National Association for Bilingual Education (nabe) fully appreciate the importance of the English language, which is the medium of communication in our society and in many parts of the world. That is why we--as parents, teachers, researchers, and school administrators--advocate the expansion of bilingual-education programs.
Earlier this month, I testified before a House subcommittee on the importance of effective instruction in English.
First, I said that limited-English-proficient (lep) students must learn English if they are to progress academically. And while teaching English to an lep child is not simple, quick, or easy, it is a task that our schools can and must accomplish.
I also testified that lep students must, at the same time, advance in their development of basic academic skills, and in their understanding of our world and our society. Mastery of English is an essential measure, but it is not the only measure of effective instruction for lep students.
Last year, Congress rewrote the Federal Bilingual Education Act. I am proud to say that nabe helped to develop the new law.
The new Bilingual Education Act reflects nabe's concern that language-minority Americans have a realistic opportunity to learn English. It contains tough accountability standards to ensure that federally funded bilingual-education programs teach English effectively.
I am especially proud of the fact that the new law finally tackles the intergenerational problem of English illiteracy head-on. The new act authorizes federal grants to help establish family English-literacy programs. These programs, which can be operated by school districts, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit community organizations, have but one purpose--the teaching of English, especially to the parents of lep students.
Yes, Mr. Norve, nabe members have read the article entitled "The English Language, Out to Conquer the World" in the February 18th issue of U.S. News and World Report. And while nabe is not out to conquer the world, we are out to conquer English illiteracy in our English-speaking society. Won't you join us?
Deborah E. Bembry Assistant Professor of Education Olivet Nazarene College Kankakee, Ill.
I would like to respond to Ray Mannier's letter about debts owed by black students when they graduate from college ("$10,000 Debt Should Not Be 'Unacceptable Level' for College Graduates," Education Week, May 22, 1985).
I'd like to ask Mr. Mannier how many of these college graduates he has helped to gain meaningful employment so that they can begin to pay off those debts. He is certainly in a position to do so. I hope that he would not tell me he would hire blacks if they were "qualified," because that's just a slogan to replace the old overt response of "For Whites Only."
There are plenty of black graduates who are qualified and willing to work if only given the opportunity. I stress that they should be given the opportunity, rather than a handout, as Mr. Mannier insinuated in his letter.
Hasn't he ever wondered why 7,000 people, mostly black, will stand in line for hours or days to receive an application for employment when there are only 1,300 jobs available? An intelligent person would conclude that these people are interested in working and in paying their own way.
When are people like Mr. Mannier--those who have inherited their positions in corporate America mainly because the color of their skin gave no one reason to doubt their abilities--going to start giving blacks a fair chance? At the very least, they can stop spreading misguided ideas that prejudice others who are not as narrow-minded.
Yes, there are people who take advantage of the financial-aid system and spend their money on cars and such rather than on paying back their student loans. However, black graduates are not the main perpetrators of these offenses. Isn't it ironic that students of today are having trouble getting loans because earlier students have not paid back what they borrowed? I should point out to Mr. Mannier that this happened during a period when few blacks had the opportunity to go to college, let alone to borrow money.
Finally, his comparison of nonresident-alien and black students was completely inappropriate for the discussion at hand. Unless, of course, he was commenting on the varying degrees of pigmentation in the skin of those he compares. It is then clear that though nonresident alien students are members of minorities, many are more likely to be successful because, even though they are not white, our society still sees it as better to be red, yellow, or brown, than black. Ask the Poles, Irish, and other minority groups in our country who have managed to "pull themselves up by their bootstraps." It is too bad that blacks historically have had few boots, let alone bootstraps on which to pull. The few who did attempt to improve their situation found that quite often they were being cut down just as they had begun to climb up.
Again, Mr. Mannier, what part have you played in this predicament? And what can you do about the situation now?
Robert McClure Director, nea Mastery in Learning Project National Education Association Washington, D.C.
In her recent letter, Leslie Salmon-Cox criticized the nea Mastery in Learning Project, ("Is nea Project Worthy Initiative or 'Waste of Resources'?" Education Week, June 5, 1985).
As a matter of fact, we are doing almost precisely what she called for--working with school people to help them use the results of educational research to solve some of the persistent problems of schooling.
If your readers would like information about our work, they can write to me at 1201 16th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.
Roger D. Blake Superintendent School District RE-1 Sterling, Colo.
I was shocked and amazed to read your story about Colorado's "Second Chance Program," ("Colorado Approves 'Second Chance' Voucher Effort: Pilot Public-School Program Aims To Re-Enroll Dropouts," Education Week, June 5, 1985).
The word voucher is not in the bill in any way! Nor is it a "voucher" bill. It merely allows school districts, or groups of school districts, to establish a second-chance or alternative school.
This is nothing different than we have been doing for years--contracting for services with other districts, community agencies, or boards of cooperatives made up of member school districts.
Our district already has a second-chance or alternative school and under existing Colorado law we take students from other districts, using the amount of the individual student's authorized revenue base for financing the school.
In other words, the Colorado legislature is, in some ways, duplicating present practice with a new law, but it in no way creates a "voucher" system.
This sounds like a story that may have been given to you by an overzealous supporter of school vouchers.
I sincerely hope you will give equal space to correct a story that is almost totally misleading.
Editor's Note: According to Calvin Frazier, Colorado's state superintendent of schools, a few school districts in the state do currently exchange students and their state funds "informally." He explained that the Second Chance Program was designed to "formalize that funding practice." He added that while the establishment of alternative schools may be one result of the program, its goal is to re-enroll dropouts in school settings that meet their needs. The receiving schools are not required to have "alternative" programs, he said.
Mr. Frazier, officials in the state department of education, and others interviewed for the report used the word "voucher" in describing the program.