Letters To The Editor
The recent report of the National Center on Education and the Economy ("Bush Called On To Free Funding for Experiments," March 8, 1989) makes a series of recommendations that could seriously damage programs designed to meet the needs of three groups of young people: non-English-speaking students, handicapped children, and primary-age, low-income students functioning below the expected skill level.
The report--"To Secure Our Future: The Federal Role in Education"--proposes a far-reaching experimental program that would4allow some districts to divert funding targeted for these groups.
One of the recommendations calls for combining funds provided for Chapter 1 services, special education, and bilingual programs.
The report charges that "federal programs for the disadvantaged are typically structured in ways that do not reward the improvement of student progress."
"In fact," it says, "the incentives are perverse. Money is withdrawn if success is achieved."
This charge is a gross generalization. What indeed is wrong if funding is withdrawn after the needs of the disadvantaged students have been met?
And to diminish or eliminate these programs by cutting their funding--already insufficient--would exacerbate the current inequity in our educational system.
The report also states that "it is no surprise that students in spe8cial federal programs often do less well than virtually identical kids who are not in those programs."
There is no evidence indicating that this is a valid charge in reference to Chapter 1, Head Start, or bilingual education.
While it is true that African-American, Native-American, and Hispanic students are overrepresented in special education, this is due to misclassification.
For those students who are not appropriately placed, special education has become a problem.
But there is no evidence that such misclassification is due to the way the program is structured. Many experts argue that it results instead from cultural biases in tests used to classify minorities.
There is sufficient evidence, however, to prove that special-education programs serve those who need them well.
And research shows that part of the problem of bilingual-education programs is the way they are implemented by local districts. Where they have been properly implemented, bilingual programs have served non-English-speaking students effectively.
I personally benefited from this program, taking bilingual classes for two years in high school.
Why would we want to use a new, experimental model for improving our schools when we already have a model that works?
Bolgen Vargas Bilingual Counselor State University of New York College at Brockport Rochester, N.Y.
Your article on "bigotry" in4schools ("Schools Witness a Troubling Revival of Bigotry," May 24, 1989) implied that all prejudice is white against black.
I would suggest that you get out from behind your desk and check the real world.
Check police blotters and school records; talk with teachers and administrators who aren't afraid to speak, and with white students and parents.
You will find, if you report your findings objectively instead of trying to make like a sociologist, that there is as much or more prejudice on the part of blacks and other minorities against whites.
The group that is really being discriminated against is white males. Blacks and other minorities operate under a quota system that has nothing to do with ability.
Don Kruse Champaign, Ill.
Vol. 08, Issue 38