Reforming high school is only a start

By , Marlene Bobka, and Blaine D. Buott

Leon Botstein's ideas have great validity, but they should be taken even further than the American high school ("A call to radically rethink high school," May 18).

Actually, all of society has been corrupted by the same things that corrupt high school education - the mass movement away from the study of anything that can't be quantified statistically.

Our heroes are judged by the numbers - for selling the most albums, earning the most money in sports, gaining the most yards.

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Worst of all, the prevailing attitude among adults is: "If I own stock in General Electric, then I don't give a darn how much trash they give us on NBC, as long as they keep up the stock value."

It stems from the obsession with sports and money, and is the result of moving away from teaching art, literature, and philosophy at all levels. Our nation's schools are filled with high school principals and boards of education consisting of former jocks or coaches. What do they care if the high school choir has never heard of Monteverdi, or even if there is a high school choir?

Schools and colleges are inundated with new sports teams. Each time a new sport is introduced into our schools, music takes the hit. I live in one of the six wealthiest communities in the country (average home price is about $800,000) and the music performance standards of our four high schools is dismal. One of the schools boasts 11 football coaches.

Our nation cannot judge quality - only quantity. How can we teach our kids to evaluate the performance of a congressman when we can't differentiate between "Star Wars" and a play such as "All My Sons"?

Will there ever be a generation of authors such as Arthur Miller and Ernest Hemingway produced in this country again, since all of the major book publishers are owned by large conglomerates driven by the bottom line - the stock performance?

No, it is not just the high school experience that should be redone. But that would be a good starting point.

Gerry Long Newport Beach, Calif.

A library's job isn't to supervise kids

Each of your "GWNN" discussion participants ignored the crux of the issue ("A family hoedown on children's Internet access," June 1). Why are children requiring supervision going to the library alone? The library does not act in loco parentis; the duty remains with the parent to monitor and guide a child's reading, be it online or on paper.

A library is not a day-care center. It is a community resource that provides information vital to an informed citizenry. Within the library's physical and virtual walls repose all manner of opinions, facts, visions, dreams. While the librarian can certainly guide a library patron in locating specific information, it is way too much to ask to expect the library staff to carry out each parent's exact strictures in determining what is appropriate for a particular child.

Marlene Bobka Silver Spring, Md.

More international perspectives, please

What a wonderful feeling you gave me reading these beautiful excerpts from speeches ("Decrees of separation," June 8).

I started reading the Monitor while getting my political economics degree. I wanted to add new perspective. Now, many years later, I am so pleased to see your content remains powerful.

If there is one thing I would like to see more of, it is stories and perspectives from outside the continental US. I think all readers would find them relevant and valuable, and they would bring a new dimension of understanding. Keep up the fine journalism.

Blaine D. Buott Georgina, Ontario

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