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To the Editor:

Perhaps the fires of South-Central Los Angeles will spark an "education'' President to seek an additional national education goal or two for America as we head toward the millennium. We have six national goals now but at least a couple more should be added.

The seventh goal can be simply stated: The public good must override the reckless pursuit of private goods. Social justice, civic cohesion, and educational equity cannot be sacrificed at the altar of unconstrained market activity. We must examine more critically and more compassionately the role market activity plays in community and individual well-being. We need only look at the destructive consequences of corporate mergers and acquisitions, failed savings-and-loans, tax-code changes that benefit the wealthy at the expense of the poor and the middle class, tax abatements for businesses which fail to provide long-term reinvestment in the community, and the loss and/or foreign relocation of middle-class manufacturing jobs.

Virtually obliterated in the fire and smoke of Los Angeles was an equally important story emanating from the town of Olivehurst, Calif., just outside San Francisco. A 20-year-old gunman killed his former history teacher and three students in a desperate act to tell the world that his public education had "failed him.'' The education-reform movement of the last decade has focused too much on how good is public education in America and not enough on what good is public education for a generation of students facing an era of economic distress, moral confusion, and global destruction.

Pehaps an eighth national education goal should be established. A goal that challenges all of us to provide the nation's children and youths with strong reasons and incentives to pursue common education for the public good.

Brad Mitchell
Associate Professor of Education
Ohio State University
Columbus, Ohio

To The Editor:

Regarding "Preschools for Slow Children'' (Commentary, April 22, 1992): I am outraged that the author, Joan F. Goodman, would put forth--not only in your newspaper, but also in a soon-to-be-published book--such an ignorant, uninformed, and unenlightened view toward educating young children who have developmental disabilities.

Discussing services for "slow'' preschoolers and preschoolers with disabilities as though they had the same learning needs suggests that Ms. Goodman is ill-prepared to be writing publicly about such a critical issue.

In addition, the statement that federal funding for early intervention is "to accelerate the development of slow children so that they can be integrated into the mainstream'' is inaccurate. The purpose of the legislation and funding is to provide children and their families an anchor--early intervention--for necessary social services and educational services. The educational component provides children with disabilities a head start in preparation for entry into school. It provides funds for children with disabilities to have access to learning environments that are available in their community to other toddlers or preschoolers.

The federal funding does not specify that separate preschools and toddler programs be developed and, in fact, most children requiring early intervention can, are, and should be included in programs in their communities that are for all children. That the issue of inclusion was ignored in the Commentary is further evidence that Ms. Goodman's information should be considered with serious skepticism (I thought I was back in the 70's reading the article).

Ms. Goodman writes as though "early intervention'' and "early acceleration'' programs are synonymous. This again suggests she is confused about how children with disabilities and slow learners are educated. It is intellectually deceptive to your readers (not to mention the influence on her University of Pennsylvania students) to write on a subject about which she is so apparently devoid of accurate information.

I did find some encouragement, however, in Ms. Goodman's description of a preferred instructional model that promotes elements of developmentally appropriate practices for preschoolers with disabilities. Since developmentally appropriate practices can promote instead of stifle learning in all students, they obviously should be and typically are the foundation of learning environments for young children, including those with disabilities.

Tass F. Morrison
Albany, Ore.

To the Editor

Your article about the California teacher John Dickinson ("War Resister Faces New Battle--To Keep Teaching License in California,'' April 6, 1992) illuminates some important issues: conscientious objection, the war in the Persian Gulf, and the vocation of the teacher. It is worthwhile to give space in print to stories like this.

If not for some true light among those politically convenient "thousand points of light,'' our future would look very dim. To the powers at the top of any institutional triangle, John Dickinson's attitude is probably shocking. Likewise, his definition of what a teacher should do--"teach children to think and not be little robots''--may be shocking for some.

Jose F. Ribeiro
San Francisco, Calif.

To The Editor:

I was happy to see that Education Week found the National Catholic Education Association's convention in St. Louis an event that warranted coverage. However, I was disappointed to see that the article ("Study Reveals Benefits, Shortcomings in Catholic Education for 8th Graders,'' April 29, 1992) concentrated on only two of the more than 480 sessions that were part of the convention.

Obviously it would be impossible to cover every one of the sessions. But I think you misrepresented the convention in focusing on the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 and Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander's address on the President's school-choice proposal.

Your selection of sessions to report on would, I think, give most people who did not attend the impression that the gathering centered on distinguishing Catholic schools from public schools. Catholic educators (the majority of the participants) are already aware of the differences.

The 13,000 Catholic school teachers, administrators, and their supporters who gathered in St. Louis did so for professional and personal growth. It is true that many of the sessions dealt with issues that are unique to the Catholic school, but many treated matters that are common to all schools. The focus was not on comparing Catholic schools to public schools or making a case for school-choice legislation.

I hope you will continue to cover this annual meeting, but I hope your coverage can give a more realistic view of the convention's many facets.

Brother Edward M. Brink, S.M.
San Francisco, Calif.

Vol. 11, Issue 35, Page 27

Published in Print: May 20, 1992, as Letters to the Editor
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