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Bad Impressions

In your “Connections” column about the controversy over the “Impressions” reading series [“Values, Orthodoxies, And Public Schools,” November/December] you say that parents “do not have a right to foist their own values” on the teachers and the system. You give children too much credit and parents too little when you suggest that children can forge their values out of their own maturity, wisdom, and knowledge. If public education cannot instruct children in the orthodoxies of their parents, can it instruct children in the orthodoxies of the teachers and the system?

Randall Storms Headmaster
Augusta Preparatory Day School
Martinez, Ga.

Your editorial gave me some insight into what Teacher Magazine really stands for. Apparently, it is all right for the system to foist its values, or rather the values of one vocal minority, on our children. You make “Impressions” look so harmless. Why don't you print some of the illustrations that include sorcerers and sorceresses, witches, ghouls, and monsters? Why don't you tell about the two California review panels that recommended rejection of “Impressions” for grades 1-3? Two districts in California have returned the series. In the same issue of your magazine, an “In Brief” article noted another decline in SAT scores. If educators think “Impressions” is going to improve scores, they are mistaken. Yucaipa should change curricula. Even Dick and Jane would be an improvement.

Wayne Mineard
Chester, W.Va.

If I were a parent in the Yucaipa school system, [“A War Of Words,” November/December], I would be joining with equal alarm those who are against teaching with the “Impressions” reading series. The excerpted lines you printed in your article set the tone of doom and despair no doubt prevalent in the series. Were I a teacher compelled to use the series, I would furnish a ton of supplementary material (in the name of academic freedom, of course) so that my agenda would supersede that of “Impressions.”

Adele Janzen
Metropolitan Advanced Technical High School
Kansas City, Mo.

So we're supposed to think that the parents in Yucaipa who oppose “Impressions” are far-right extremists who want to censor their children's reading material and impose their values on them. And you believe these simple folk do not recognize that public education “cannot be an education in the orthodoxies of their parents.”

Well, maybe. But why do we never seem to read such principled criticisms of those who would stifle intellectual freedom when the material being fought over seems to violate liberal dogmas? Is anyone ever labeled an extremist because he or she seeks to have schools reject texts that supposedly perpetuate gender or racial stereotypes? Of course not. The conflict in Yucaipa is not, as your editor claims, about whether parents or other citizens should be allowed to foist their values on the school system. The parents' group in Yucaipa is doing nothing illicit. Liberal groups foist their values on the school system all the time. The conflict is over what sort of people should be allowed to do the foisting.

Richard Cleary
Dallastown High School
Dallastown, Pa.

Don’t Ignore It

As a victim of dating violence in high school, I want to thank you for your recent article [“The Ugly Secret,” October]. I, too, mistook my boyfriend's intense jealousy and violence as a “profession of love.” I can still remember several teachers watching embarrassing and scary moments but not intervening. After two years of the relationship, I finally had to get a restraining order against the boy I was involved with. I only hope there will be more research into this kind of violence and that more courses about it will be available to teenagers. Teenagers need to know they are not alone in this type of relationship. Teachers should realize that they should confront the perpetrators because, as I know, the worst really is going on in private.

Janice Ferry
Substitute Teacher
Ridley Township School District
Folsom, Pa.


I read with great amusement and empathy Jeffrey Wells' article [“Jumping Through Hoops,” November/ December]. Here are a few more hoops this prospective teacher had to jump through: Several districts interviewed me for nonexistent openings; one principal set up an appointment, had me wait 90 minutes, and then had his secretary tell me the appointment was canceled; another principal suggested I resign from my paying jobs to volunteer in schools to get more experience. Despite these and other instances of nonprofessionalism, I still hope to secure a teaching position somewhere, sometime.

Ralph Bach
Dearborn Heights, Mich.

Jeffrey Wells' viewpoint angered me. I have just finished a teacher-certification program, having worked full time during my last two years of undergraduate study and while taking certification classes. I scrimped, saved, and sought part-time work during my student teaching, while also raising my son. I could certainly criticize the content of some of the classes, but there was value in all of them. The bureaucracy certainly put road blocks in my way, but this taught me how to deal with bureaucracy.

If Wells is unable to deal with a difficult bureaucracy, how can he expect to deal with a difficult class and a difficult bureaucracy? Even though he denies it, Wells has all the markings of an arrogant, elitist Ivy League snob. Who is he to come right out of college and decide he knows better than all the dedicated professionals who came before him? Teaching does not need altruistic people. The profession needs wide-eyed, realistic, worldly, tough people. I think the students are better off with Wells in the bureaucracy of the Environmental Protection Agency.

David Triche
Beverly Hills, Calif.
Reading Program

Reading Program

In response to Lewis Perelman's article [“Change Equals Choice Plus Technology,” October], we have received many phone calls from teachers and administrators interested in our computerized reading program. Readers interested in the individualized reading program can get more information by contacting us at: Periscope Software Inc., 166 Hillcrest Road, Berkeley, CA 94705; (415) 420-8654.

Carolyn Wood
Periscope Software Inc.
Berkeley, Calif.

What’s In That Soup?

In your “Shoptalk” department, you praised Jeanne Nelsen's classroom cook-in of chicken soup [“From Chicken Soup To Captain Photon,” October]. While I liked the idea, it strikes me that both Nelsen and her students could use a slightly broader education. When they discuss where the soup's ingredients come from, do the children ever ask where the chicken comes from? And if they do, can Nelsen describe the atrocities of a factory farm accurately, that is, in a way that might make children think twice about eating animals that have lived and died in agony? Perhaps a class field trip to such a farm is in order. It would be a lesson in basic agriculture that she and the children would not soon forget.

Chi Chi Sileo
Arlington, Va.

Men In The Classroom

As a third-year, 5th grade teacher, I appreciated your article on the shortage of male elementary teachers [“Looking For A Few Good Men,” November/December]. When you cited the specter of molestation as one possible deterrent, I was reminded of an incident that happened early in my student teaching. While walking a class to the room, a 2nd grader unexpectedly grabbed my hand and held on. I later asked my master teacher what I should have done. She replied that I should have immediately released the hand. Well, I now consider that the single worst piece of advice I received during my teacher training. For teachers, male or female, to flinch from children is both unnatural and harmful to the youngsters. I trust that most, if not all, parents and administrators recognize this. One final note: Every Friday afternoon, my students end the week by giving me a handshake or a hug (their choice). It should come as no surprise that nearly all the kids, boys and girls, opt for the latter.

Jason Tarshis
Oster School
San Jose, Calif.

It’s Only A Theory

A recent “Current Events” brief about biology texts [“The Evolution Of Evolution,” September] calls for a response. Inquiry is the heart of science. If students were really allowed to inquire, biology texts would contain not only the theory of evolution but also the theory of creationism. Evolution should not be a key theme in any text because it is only a theory, not a proven fact. When students are given the freedom to inquire and the freedom to chose between the evolution model and the creation model, they tend to choose the creation model. Evolutionists are blindly promoting a dead theory. Let's give our schoolchildren both sides of the issue!

Maria Balmut Ward
Gifted Enrichment Program
Graham Schools
St. Paris, Ohio

Correct Correction

The correct title of the Eudora Welty story is neither “Warm Path” nor, as you say in your correction, “A Warn Path,” [“Letters,” October]. It is “A Worn Path.”

Jean Wolf Kirschenmann
Hosmer High School
Hosmer, S.D.

Editor's Note: We stand corrected—again.

Vol. 02, Issue 04, Pages 6-7, 64

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