This is regarding the May 17 letter, "Overhaul the educational system," and that writer's "answer" to the ills of today's educational system.
I feel he should be administered a test on the basis of today's curriculum. If he cannot pass a test based on set theory, basic computer programming, physics, political science, and perhaps novels by Kurt Vonnegut, then he should be stripped of his job and possessions and branded by society. Certainly a modest proposal in light of some of his.
From the tone of that letter I would hazard a guess that the writer agrees with William Bennett's readin', writin', and 'rithmetic approach to education. He states that the "educational system has perpetrated a massive fraud upon parents and taxpayers" and assures us that money is most certainly not the answer.
Yet, he proposes "independent offices" (read "bureaucrats") administering another battery of new, yet somehow completely objective, tests. He also feels that the salary of a competent teacher should be commensurate with that of the "true professionals," namely doctors and lawyers. Both are extremely expensive proposals, yet in a letter full of specifics, he curiously omits the source of money.
Certainly, in the teaching profession, the true professionals are those who are enthusiastic, inspiring and able to convey the material, not just those who know the material. How would he propose we test enthusiasm and inspiration?
The writer supports his theories with facts, stating that in America 30 percent of students are dropping out, SAT scores are falling, and U.S. students are near the bottom when tested against students of the Western World. Obviously, if we do as he suggests and "bounce any kids who are disruptive, possess drugs, etc.," we would exorcize the lowest scores from each of the above categories, and thereby improve the numbers. Not bad for cosmetic work, but what is it going to cost to intern all those recalcitrants?
I think the writer should realize that students spend less than half of their waking hours in school and less than 10 percent with any one particular instructor. With this in mind, if a child is not learning, then how much blame can a responsible parent put on the educational system? I should state that my parents were concerned and interested about my schooling, reading was a favorite pastime, and the television was off (except for Bills games). It was perfectly acceptable to argue with them about family projects and current politics (though I don't recall winning many arguments).
Unfortunately, a main concern of many of today's parents seems to be whether or not Junior's problems are interfering with mother's ability to work. A lot more parents are going to have to produce a better product before the educational system is able to reciprocate.
JOHN M. MESSINGER II