Jan 1 2010

Letters to the Editor

Education Needs Structural Change

The reforms I hear bandied about today are reheated versions of those I observed during my 50-year teaching career. For all their good intentions, reformers do not have a clue on how to bring about substantive fundamental change. This includes Randi Weingarten and Arne Duncan—two sincere individuals. Jonathan Kozol [“A Deeper Truth Than Newspapers and Networks Are Likely to Provide,” 9/10] graphically reveals the flaws in education, but he has not laid out a road map for changing education at its core.

No reform has fundamentally changed education for the better because all reforms have focused on the actors: teachers, students, parents, unions. The problems of education lie in its structure. Structure is in the realm of sociology. It lies outside the understanding of most reformers and it lies outside the purview of educational psychology, much of which is pseudo-educational psychology. Unless reformers grasp the meaning and implications of changing the structure of education, we will waste billions of dollars in the next decade just to come to the realization that charter schools and blaming the actors were all for naught.

To grasp structural change is to learn a new way of thinking. No, I can’t explain structure within the confines of a paragraph. I hope my comment opens the door on new debate by simply saying, “We have been looking all these years oer here (at actors and pseudo-psych) when we should have looking over there (structural change).”

Robert Leski

Former President, Wyandotte Federation of Teachers

Monroe, Mich.

Thanks for the article about teacher-bashing [“First, Bash the Teachers,” 9/10]. It is a really scary time to be a teacher. The masses are getting stirred up by Duncan and the media. The truth is rarely seen, so thanks a million. I doubt any teacher will vote for Obama again.

Terrified in California,

Melody Priceman

Novato, Calif.

Why Only Negative Quotes on Social Forum?

I am such a great fan of the work that you do at FAIR that I was stunned that, particularly considering the thrust of the article [“Tea Party vs. U.S. Social Forum,” 9/10], the following could slip through unnoticed or uncorrected by the author or editors!

Your article is dead on regarding the outrageous lack of coverage for the USSF, particularly proportional to the Tea Party coverage. There was also no coverage of the people who walked to the USSF over three weeks from New Orleans, stopping along the way at locations of historical importance to the Civil Rights Movement. But that is not my complaint with the article.

In mentioning the news sources that did give coverage to the USSF, you provided three quotations. The only quotations you listed were ones derogatory of the USSF! How could that go unnoticed? Considering the nature of your work, I find this totally unacceptable. For people who log onto this article (who may very well have not heard of the Social Forum because of lack of coverage), these quotes are the ones they are going to carry away from that? And I wouldn’t be surprised if Glenn Beck picks up on that and makes note of what FAIR considered comments worth including. Shame.

A correction (and, I think, apology) need to be made for this failure to follow your own standards. As I said, I’m such a big fan of your site on most occasions that this was a real disappointment. At very least you can provide some links to additional sources of coverage and history of the Social Forum. A few balancing quotations wouldn’t hurt, either.

Thanks for your attention to this.

Carolyn Caffrey

via Internet

The editors reply:

As you note, the report was on the lack of coverage of the U.S. Social Forum; it was not intended to serve as alternative coverage of the gathering. The disparaging quotes were chosen to illustrate the dismissive tone of what little coverage there was.

Media Ignore Urgent Issues

Why aren’t these urgent issues being addressed in political debates or the media?

1) Why do we have more than 700 military bases in 38 nations? What percentage of our budget is dedicated to the military-industrial complex?

2) Some 46,000 of our citizens die annually, because they don’t have access to healthcare. Hundreds of thousands go bankrupt because of excessive costs. For starters, how about repealing “Newt’s Law,” which forbids Medicare from negotiating volume discounts with pharmaceutical companies?

3) A radical branch of the Islamic religion in Mecca inspired the 9/11 attack. Bin Laden’s followers were funded by the Saudi royal family under the guise of charity. Why did we let them off the hook after the 9/11 attack?

4) Bush and his cronies lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. Why aren’t they being held accountable for the murders of 100,000-plus innocent civilians and millions of refugees who have been driven from their homes?

5) Mussolini defined fascism as an agreement between corp-orations and government for their mutual benefit. Some 36,000 corporate lobbyists in our nation’s capital spent more than $3.6 billion to influence politicians and elections in 2009. They have upped the ante this year.

Bob Fisher

Encinitas, Calif.