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To the Editor:

It is unfortunate that a vocal few can garner so much attention in attacking the Boy Scouts of America and its new Learning for Life subsidiary, particularly at a time when the resources available to teachers are declining all over our country ("Boy Scouts' School 'Life Skills' Program Draws Fire," Sept. 4, 1991).

The predominant focus of your article was not on an educational program. Rather, the story centered on issues involving traditional Scouting values. Our decision to establish Learning for Life as a completely separate subsidiary was in recognition of the vast difference between traditional Cub Scout, Boy Scout, and Explorer programs and tiffs nontraditional, independent school program.

Conversely, little attention was given to details of the program or its implementation. Teachers and other curriculum experts worked in partnership with Boy Scouts of America professionals for nearly three years to develop Learning for Life. The resulting program will support teachers in their quest to help students develop listening and communications skills, ethical-decisionmaking capabilities, critical- and creative- thinking abilities, and a wide range of practical living skills.

Perhaps an opportunity will present itself when you will be able to present your readers with information on the Learning for Life curriculum. In our world, knowledge is power. We want teachers across the country to have the power to make a knowledgeable decision about this new program for their students.

Ben H. Love
Chief Scout Executive
Boy Scouts of America
National Office
Irving, Tex.

To the Editor:

I heartily concur with Daniel B. Taylor ("Half-Time Schools and Half-Baked Students," Commentary, Sept. 11, 1991) when he supports the idea that "time on task" is the consistent criterion determining how much students learn. However, I am appalled at the examples he presents, namely army recruits, quarterbacks, and auto mechanics. With few notable exceptions these are all-male, gender-biased models.

I would like to think that Mr. Taylor means to include all students when he refers to the "time on task" research, but he certainly excludes a good half of them in his examples. If the writers and editors of Education Week are committed to reaching all educators and ultimately all their students, then it behooves them to give credence to the other half of humanity and to carefully screen such articles as Mr. Taylor's for inequities.

Judith A. Gray
Assistant Principal Abbott Middle School
San Matteo, Calif.

To the Editor:

I can sympathize with school officials who are confronted with the financial necessity of making reductions ("School Reform on Hold as Cities Face Fiscal Crunch," July 31, 1991). Budget-cutting is undoubtedly one of the most unpopular and unpleasant of all administrative tasks.

But to conclude that educational reforms are not possible during such difficult periods stretches the credibility schools have with the public.

Many worthy reforms simply do not require additional funds. Some may become more compelling during financial declines, as people are often more willing to modify behaviors when confronted with the stark reality that change is going to happen and being part of the solution is far better than being left out of the process.

Fiscal emergencies enable some actions that are legitimate reforms to be taken that otherwise might very well be next to impossible--usually for political reasons. For example, underutilized buildings can be more easily retired during a financial crunch.

The school systems in your article were in pain, although it appeared as if some restructuring and hard priority-setting were being accomplished. Trees are healthiest when periodically pruned.

Obviously, schools need lots more funds (we always have) but little is gained in the long run by suggesting schools won't be able to move forward in times of a money crisis.

The officials you quoted didn't say outright that due to the cutbacks they would not be able to make reforms. But the second sentence of the article read, "... causing educational reform to take a back seat to the necessity of financial retrenchment." That phrase and the headline suggested that the only way reform can move forward is with increased dollars.

There is simply too much that needs to be improved for the benefit of students to wait until additional dollars arrive. Some of us might have to wait a long, long time. The needs of children can't wait.

Arthur W. Steller
Superintendent Oklahoma City Public Schools
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Vol. 11, Issue 04, Page 26

Published in Print: September 25, 1991, as Letters to the Editor
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