Letters to the Editor

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To the Editor:

I was shocked and angered to see my name on the list of fraudulent-degree recipients that accompanied an article on "diploma mills" ("U.S. Estimates Thousands Buy 'Degrees' From Diploma Mills," Education Week, June 5, 1985).

I would like to explain. I had been taking courses toward my master's degree from Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, and correspondence courses from the University of Northern Iowa. In response to an advertisement, I contacted American Western University to inquire if they had correspondence courses the same as those I had been taking from UNI I received a phone call, from a person I assumed was the registrar, indicating that American Western did have the courses I needed and that the institution was accredited. I was told that all I needed to do to register was to send transcripts, a resume, credentials, and a check, along with a list of the courses I needed.

Weeks passed, and I received a tubular package from American Western. Much to my surprise, it contained a master's degree in elementary administration. I realized what had happened: I had been had, and the degree was phony. I put the diploma away and continued with my degree program at Clarke.

After eight long years of teaching full time, raising four children, and attending classes, I obtained my master's degree in elementary administration from a fully accredited school, Clarke College. I have since been accepted by Loyola University, and this month I will enter the university's Doctor of Education program.

I have never been contacted by the FBI or the staff of Education Week to verify my credentials or qualifications. I would not want anything to do with the American Western University degree. I know I have a valid degree, which I have worked extremely hard to obtain.

Margie Martelle
Dubuque, Iowa

To the Editor:

Your article "Is Retention Without Remediation Punishment?" (Education Week, June 12, 1985) posed the question: "Why are schools moving forward with retention policies in the face of inconclusive research?'' Kim Marshall, director of curriculum for the Boston Public Schools, responded, "We don't believe the research."

If the medical profession paid the same heed to medical research as educators pay to educational research, most of us who are over 50 years old would probably be dead.

I am not sure that the research is inconclusive. It seems to me that the research long ago concluded that grade retention does not improve achievement, but rather has a negative effect on self-concept. I believe the research. Moreover, I believe the research supports the idea that our public elementary schools should be committed to the task of providing each student with an instructional program appropriate to his ability in a heterogeneous group of age peers.

It is too bad that more efforts have not been directed at finding better ways to provide for individual differences, rather than at futile attempts to force students to meet arbitrary "standards" in no way related to their individual abilities.

Charles S. Parks
Woodbridge Elementary School
Greenwood, Del.

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to your article "Is School Speaker's Talk Dangerous? Suicide-Prevention Workers Think So" (Education Week, June 12, 1985). Because of the sensational aspects, limited scope, and lack of competent follow-through of Jerry Johnston's presentation, we also feel that his talk is dangerous.

Given the growing concern over youth suicide, it is certainly understandable and commendable that school systems want to deal with the problem. In fact, the American Association of Suicidology feels the schools are the best means of reaching and helping suicidal youngsters.

Unfortunately, some schools are so anxious to do "something" that they do not check out the people they invite in. Perhaps if more schools knew of our services, they would realize they have options other than people like Mr. Johnston.

Please feel free to inform your readers that we welcome their questions and requests for information.

Julie Perlman
Executive Officer
American Association of Suicidology
Denver, Colo.

To the Editor:

Richard A. Baer Jr., in a recent Commentary ("Is the High Court Wrong on Entanglement?" Education Week, Aug. 21, 1985), hits at the Achilles' heel of our state-run system of schooling. For the public schools to be fair, they must not impose any particular value system on their captive audience. Historians make it quite clear--and my own schooling of 40 years ago proves--that America's public schools were imposing Judeo-Christian ethics until fairly recent times.

The Supreme Court quite correctly recognized that this imposition of religious views was unconstitutional, but failed to take the next step. Instead of saying the obvious--that all schooling must by its very nature "impose" someone's ethics--the Court came up with the wild notion that the schools would be value-neutral. If the schools are not value-neutral--and they are not and cannot be--then we are faced with this syllogism:

1. The state must be neutral with respect to religious institutions.

2. In any ultimate analysis, schools are religious institutions. Education and religion are two sides of the same coin--inseparable.

3. Therefore, the state must become neutral with respect to the support and control of the schools.

What goes on in a particular school should not be debated by the courts or the public. The schools should be independent institutions, and their methods and goals should be the concerns of teachers and parents. Teachers should be authors of their own actions and responsible for all that they do. Parents should have equal freedom to choose from the variety of teacher offerings. We recognize the need for this kind of relationship in churches and newspapers: It's called freedom.

Why not a state newspaper board to decide what is proper for Education Week to print? That is no more ridiculous than for the state to decide what schools should teach.

Robert S. Marlowe
Council for Educational Freedom in America
Forestville, Md.

To the Editor:

I have followed the efforts of the self-defined Moral Majority for the past four years. Their mission to "Christianize" America is the motivating force behind the school-prayer legislation. To spread Christianity is one of their major responsibilities as defined by their rules and regulations. Proselytism is a key to their kingdom of heaven.

It seems odd that a group of educated individuals desiring to install a Christian morality in their children couldn't wake them up five minutes earlier in order to pray before leaving for school. What is even more interesting is that the very educated politicians and lawyers striving to legally install school-prayer formulas on the state and national levels haven't thought of this simple solution.

It is tragic to watch so many people spend so much time supporting this school-prayer effort when that time could be spent with their own children. Or, heaven forbid, the time and money could be spent supporting the quality of new teacher-education programs and curricula designed to assist students in becoming responsible, caring, and socially conscious adults--whether they call themselves Christian, Jewish, Catholic, Taoist, or atheist. But that would require a global perspective and a more tolerant attitude toward different definitions of very similar moral stances.

Even more tragic is the fact that our nation's leaders in the judicial and executive branches, like President Reagan and Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, don't call a horse a horse and an effort to proselytize an effort to proselytize. Of course, that requires common sense, and the Moral Majority and their advocates, in the school-prayer issue, seem to have educated themselves beyond the limitations of as mundane a principle as common sense and into the realm of moral authority. I was taught that that authority was God's alone.

William Elberty
History Teacher
Brewster Academy
Wolfeboro, N.H.

To the Editor:

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision outlawing silent prayer in the public schools was a reinforcement of Jefferson's "wall of separation between church and state."

Prayers do have a place in the public schools. A student can pray silently that he will pass his American history test; however, laws mandating silent prayer--such as Alabama's--violate the neutrality role that government has to play.

It is the duty of parents and clergymen to see to it that students pray at home and in houses of worship--not in the public schools as the Moral Majority and others would want.

Those who favor silent prayer should heed the words of a great historical figure. He said: "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."

Those who favor silent prayer should realize that the founder of Christianity, Jesus Christ, uttered these words (Matthew 6:6). I wonder if they would consider Christ an atheist for doing so.

Louis A. Carrubba
Social-Studies Teacher and Chapter Leader, United Federation of Teachers
Canarsie High School
Brooklyn, N.Y.

To the Editor:

My father, Morton A. Gruber, was named Teacher of the Year for Industrial Arts in New York State.

I read about Education Week and I would like for you to include my father in one of your issues. I think if he saw it, he would love it! If you do include this in your paper, please send me an issue.

Sandra Gruber, 14
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Vol. 05, Issue 02, Pages 19-20

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