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Title I Standards: Already Required

To the Editor:

Your story "House Bill Adds Science Requirement to Title I" (Nov. 3, 1999) is in error. Title I now requires states to set standards in subjects of their choice, which must apply to all students, Title I and non-Title I alike. States were to have standards in reading/language arts and mathematics by the beginning of the 1997-98 school year, and standards in other subjects by 1999-2000.

A lack of science standards is not the explanation for why "we are not doing well as a nation in math and science," as Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, R-Mich., maintains. The reason is that few teachers in Title I schools majored or minored in math or science in college. Mr. Ehlers could advance his goal with an amendment that mandates and pays for training teachers in Title I schools in these subjects.

Phyllis McClure
Member, Independent Review Panel
National Assessment of Title I
Washington, D.C.

Technology's Impact Grows Dramatically

To the Editor:

Ronald Thorpe's excellent Commentary, "Can Computers Change the System?" (Oct. 20, 1999), reflects the impact technology is having on our district. Computers and, more particularly, the World Wide Web have brought about many of the changes he cites for a significant number of our teachers.

The next phase of these changes should prove to be even more significant. That phase is sure to include the widespread restructuring of instruction, as teachers become comfortable with the Internet. Any shift to instruction via the Internet, which can go on seven days a week, 365 days a year, will be, for students who choose to use this method of learning, a dramatic change.

This may happen in conjunction with, or as part of, a public school program or, conceivably, through a charter school or completely independently. And it will open up competition in a manner schools have never before had to cope with. Some will attempt to build walls around the schools and keep this method of instruction out. They will fail, I suspect, because the marketplace—colleges, the military, and business—will no doubt accept Web-based learning, if only through accredited programs.

Barnett Sturm
Cairo-Durham Central School District
Cairo, N.Y.

Palm-Computer Story Lacked All the Data

To the Editor:

Your front-page article touting the growing use of palm computers in the classroom, but reporting at the same time a lack of software to run on these computers, seemed to me a little disingenuous ("Palm Computers Moving from the Workplace to the Classroom," Oct. 27, 1999). The article also claims that an entity called the Center for Interactive Learning Technologies is holding a contest to improve the software situation, yet fails to give readers any material reference to the same.

After spending 30 minutes on the Internet looking for the center, including time spent checking the online Yellow Pages to find out more about the contest, I have to conclude that the Center for Interactive Learning Technologies may not exist or, if it does, is not really up to speed in the technologies it is trying to promote.

Dan Freeberg
Colorado Springs, Colo.

Editor's note: The Center for Interactive Learning Technologies can be reached at the following Web site: kn.cilt.org/palm99.

Intelligences: Differing Views on 'Gifted'

To the Editor:

In his recent Commentary, James R. Delisle makes a series of misstatements about the theory of multiple intelligences developed by my husband, Howard Gardner, and the application of this theory to intellectually gifted children ("Neither Freak Nor Geek: The Gifted Among Us," Oct. 27, 1999). Mr. Delisle claims that there is a wonderful thing called giftedness that resides in the child, and that distinguishes that child as a breed apart. He goes on to say that this precious thing is being destroyed by "multiple intelligences" theory, which assumes that giftedness resides not in the child but in what the child does. But this is a false (and silly) dichotomy. Any classification of a child as gifted must be rooted in some behavioral evidence.

Mr. Delisle directly quotes Howard Gardner as saying that "all children are gifted at something." He does not give the source of this quote. I asked Howard whether he ever said this. He does not remember writing this, nor does the quote reflect his position, and any remark to this effect must have been taken out of context. Nowhere does the theory say that individuals have equal levels of each kind of intelligence, or even that any person is necessarily strong in any intelligence. The purpose of the theory is to complicate our notion of intelligence, so that it includes other forms besides those abilities measured by an IQ test. Does Mr. Delisle deny that people have different kinds of abilities besides those measured by an IQ test?

His Commentary snidely asserts that the number of intelligences in Howard Gardner's theory grows "with each new edition of a Gardner book." In fact, since the publication of Frames of Mind in 1983, Mr. Gardner has added precisely one intelligence to the theory, in 1998.

People who claim to be experts in giftedness ought to show some elementary gifts in reading texts carefully, summarizing them accurately, and making clear arguments. It is irresponsible of Education Week to publish articles that mischaracterize people's work and make claims that are not true.

Ellen Winner
Professor of Psychology
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, Mass.

To the Editor:

Bravo to James R. Delisle! In his Commentary, he has the courage to tell us that the "multiple intelligences" emperor has no clothes.

With all due respect to the notion that schools should nurture all types of intelligence as fully as possible, it still remains true that all intelligences cannot be made equal. Nor should that be anyone's desire, except perhaps in a totalitarian state.

Thank you, Mr. Delisle, for giving gifted kids the respect they deserve in a world that seems determined to equalize rather than encourage them.

Shelley Allison
Carrollton, Texas

Vol. 19, Issue 12, Page 50

Published in Print: November 17, 1999, as Letters

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