Teaching Without Violent Images and Words
I was dismayed to read "Ex-Marine Helps Plug Teacher Gap" (July 23). I heartily agree that our children need more strong, male, and minority role models. But I also think that our society too often condones violence. Is it admirable to teach young people to approach even inanimate objects such as a test with an intent to "attack" and "kill"?
We should show our children, especially those who grow up in the turmoil of the inner city, that there are other ways. Cooperation can bring more lasting gains than force. It isn't necessary that someone "loses" in order for the individual to "win." Not passing a test does not mean that the student is a "failure." A test is only a tool to teach what more we still have to learn. And we don't have to see life as something that's pitted against us.
The article is a sad comment on education, and it's why I quit after 29 years of teaching. It takes a 200-pound, in-your-face black belt ex-marine to survive in the public schools today, and I was not one. The day of the gentle, academically oriented teacher is over. The byword in Florida is "teach the best and forget the rest." I could not do this.
What will emerge, I don't know. But there are not enough ex-marines to save the system. We will have to find another solution.
Robert H. McCrea
Invest in people, not buildings
"Architects Create Pizazz on Campus" (July 21) was timely, not because of the building boom on American university campuses, but because of another trend: the widespread use of adjunct faculty and ever-rising tuition costs.
These high-profile architectural projects give students, their families, and Americans in general a false sense of security. They say, "Isn't it wonderful that we are investing so much in our institutions of higher learning." In reality, more students are being taught by teaching assistants, who are themselves students, or by underpaid, relatively inexperienced part-time/adjunct faculty members without a long-term commitment to the institution.
While building pretty buildings, universities and their donors have ignored investing in what makes a university a university: a community of scholars - the students and full-time, permanent faculty members.
Thomas G. Velek
Mississippi University for Women
The consequences of 'free trade'
If the Ku Klux Klan, Baptist Church, or Animal Rescue League wrote for the opinion page, their bias would be clear. But in "From Deep in the 'Rust Belt,' a Shining View of NAFTA" (July 8), a research fellow portrays the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (AIPP) as an objective "local think tank." On the contrary, AIPP has a very conservative, pro-business view of the world.
From the condescending reference to Pennslyvania's NAFTA detractors as "locals" who support Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan, to the cozy, phony "fondness" for Tip O'Neill quotes, the article itself is more propaganda than essay.
There are area companies (not just disgruntled old union members) on record against NAFTA. The thorn for most NAFTA detractors is not the pursuit of free trade, but rather NAFTA's shortage of concern for anything else. There are costs connected to jobs lost and companies and people hurt by NAFTA - not just unemployment compensation and retraining costs but broken families and communities, as well as the downward pressure on wages. The increasing use of threats to "move south" if employees and communities won't kowtow to corporate demands takes a toll.
Nor is NAFTA a boon for Mexicans. According to Public Citizens Global Trade Watch, 95 percent of Mexicans say they are living in an economic crisis; nearly 70 percent believe their country has had little or no success with NAFTA. Add documented environmental and labor abuses of maquiladoras, and a truer view of NAFTA emerges.
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