David Broder's June 23 column painting teachers generally as out-of-step with parents and obstructionist about educational reform is unacceptable.
Of course parents want accountability and performance standards at all grade levels, and they want them applied equally to all students.
In an ideal world teachers would want the same. But this is not an ideal world, and equality of educational achievement across ethnic and economic lines cannot be achieved by fiat, the pipe dreams of President Bush and the No Child Left Behind supporters notwithstanding.
Imagine that the boss of a coal mine decreed that every miner had to produce 16 tons a day, regardless of the size of the shovel provided.
"Slackers" would be fired. A few miners would work harder to meet the goal. Many more would give up, realizing they could never make it. And an enterprising few would make a deal with the third-shift foreman: 20 percent of their salary in return for falsely certifying they met the quota.
Much the same thing would happen in the educational realm. Teachers, familiar with a wide range of students and school systems, see this and are rightly skeptical of attempts to force all schools into one mold. Parents, familiar only with their own children, may be more easily convinced that a single standard is "more fair."
I taught in the public schools for one year. It was the most difficult thing I ever attempted. I was exhausted and couldn't have done another year. People who take pot-shots at teachers need to spend a year in the classroom themselves to see how demanding the job is.
Fixing American education will take a lot of time and a lot of money. Blaming teachers and issuing directives isn't going to do it.
Mona Charen mockingly dismissed the U.S. Senate's apology for blocking anti-lynching legislation with a puzzled observer's comment that "Gee, until now, I had no idea America mistreated African-Americans."
Hilarious, right? She also called an appeal for an "official" condemnation of slavery "pointless posturing" and claimed "not a single member of today's Senate was even in office the last time America saw a lynching."
I suspect that Ms. Charen is ignorant of the broad criminal scope of lynching. To "lynch" is "to execute without due process of law, especially to hang, as by a mob."
The key words "especially" and "as" do not limit lynching to the gruesome image of a stout tree, a cruel mob, and a lifeless, dangling body.
The Tuskegee Institute of Alabama, the frequently referenced authority on lynching, defines it as an act perpetrated by as few as three people. Whether Ms. Charen accepts that definition, even she would concede that the Texas dragging-death case, in which the victim was decapitated, or the murders of the three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Miss., in 1964 are just as heinous as any hanging.
Lynching is not irrelevant criminality of bygone years. It has occurred during the lifetime of all, and during the Senate service of many of our 100 senators.
I wonder what motivates Ms. Charen's light-hearted approach to the Senate's apology. Why does she equate Bill Clinton's failure to apologize for "turning the White House into an auction house" with the Senate's historic failure to respond to nearly 5,000 recorded lynchings?
I think Ms. Charen's columns are evidence of serious moral shortcomings.
CARL J. CHERRY
Marilou Johanek was 90 percent correct in championing the cause of continued government support for PBS in her June 24 column, "Don't let name-calling crush public broadcasting."
The intellectually stimulating documentary programs and classical music programs it presents are second to none and must be continued with government aid.
However, the government is pressuring PBS to report and to analyze news events in a fair and balanced way. Conservative officials feel that PBS' daily radio newscasts (not programs like BBC News or Front Line) tend to be positive on liberal issues and negative on conservative ones. This is construed as blatant liberal propaganda by many legislators.
She did not distinguish between the excellent and the questionable PBS programs. Is this because she cannot or will not acknowledge the two distinct agendas in PBS' programs?
J. Murray Stewart
In response to Thomas L. Friedman's June 23 column, I have a question. If I cancel subscriptions to all the publications I receive because I'm sick of reading every so-called expert slam General Motors, does it make me a bad person?
Thomas Friedman is a commentary writer for the New York Times who hails from Minnesota. He might not remember that General Motors donated some of those large "gas guzzling" SUVs to the city of New York to assist in the rescue efforts after 9/11.
General Motors "Kept America Rolling" with 0.0 percent financing after 9/11 when America's confidence was shaken in the financial markets.
As for the Toyota Prius, there have been 33 cases of a stalling condition experienced between 35 to 55 mph. Imagine if that happened in the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City on your way to work. If the carbon monoxide didn't kill you, the other drivers would.
Let's have some good press for a change on the many positive things this company is doing. GM makes 19 models that get 30 mpg or better - more than Toyota. General Motors has great quality and great products.
Questions that need answers:
1. If Tom Noe had been a Democrat would the Bureau of Workers' Compensation even let him in the front door?
2. To believe that James Conrad made the decision to give $50 million to Tom Noe without the OK of a much higher authority, you would have to be extremely naive. Who gave the OK?
3. I believed term limits were to make sure that we didn't have a group of entrenched politicians who could operate fast and loose without being accountable. What we have are a core of political hacks that jump from one state job to another. How was this allowed to happen?
4. The "I didn't know" answer from our governor was beyond ludicrous. He is hiding the truth. The people who fell on their sword for the governor need to be prosecuted if they don't tell the truth.
5. And the most important question: Who covered up the BWC investment losses before the 2004 presidential election, and would we have to deal with George W. Bush as our President?
A few thousand swing votes going for John Kerry and Mr. Bush would have been out the door.
The Blade has reported that Ohio is one of five states still operating a public monopoly for workers' compensation and disability insurance. A true reform would be to replace the current system with private insurance or a mixed private/public system.
The state could then focus on regulation and enforcement where it has demonstrated competence and reduce or eliminate its money-management role. Such a change should lead to better protection for Ohio's workers, lower premiums for Ohio businesses, and one less honey pot for Ohio's politicians.
The Blade should take a leadership role on this issue. It would also reduce the suspicion that your coverage is more about getting your rascals elected than it is about protecting Ohio's workers.
Regarding your interesting editorial in the June 26 Blade about Detroit ("A city on the brink"), I suggest another headline: "Toledo Tomorrow?"
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