To the Editor:
The Commentary “Two Lives Diverged” by David Bamat (Oct. 10, 2012) brought back memories of Boonton (N.J.) High School, from which I graduated in 1966. At Boonton, we were separated into general, commercial, college, and scientific tracks. I chose the scientific track because of a lifelong interest in science (not realizing at the time that women would be discouraged from entering those fields).
My best friend, Maureen, was put in the general track. Maureen told me that the school must have thought she was a dummy. As a result we had very few classes together. We lived in adjacent neighborhoods, both of us had horses, and we would ride together after school. Maureen had more common sense than anyone I knew and could read people like an open book. She attended Meredith College and became a certified equestrian instructor.
We both learned gender discrimination. One summer, Maureen showed me a boarding stable that was hiring help. We went up to the owner to ask about the job, to be told that he only hired boys to work for him. There was no legal recourse at that time.
As the article so poignantly points out, race (as well as gender) discrimination still exists. As educators, we must recognize the presence of discrimination and take steps to reverse the situation, whatever it might be.
Discrimination can be very subtle and insidious, and difficult to detect.
It takes responsive teachers like David Bamat whose intuitive perceptions enable him to put in place the educational countermeasures necessary to change the status quo.
The writer is a retired educator and served as the Garfield County, Mont., superintendent of schools from 1994 to 2007.
A version of this article appeared in the December 05, 2012 edition of Education Week as Teachers Can Help Prevent Discrimination