Regarding "Special Education's Promise" (March 26, Editorial): I must take issue with your statement, "Educators need to appreciate the benefits of mixing children with differing abilities and needs. That shift in attitude can take years. But without it, no amount of money or new programs will have a significant effect." We need to fully appreciate what educators today are up against. How can we expect a teacher with a classroom of 25 to 30 children with varying degrees of capabilities, to adequately educate a special-needs child?
My daughter, who teaches 11-year-olds, has a classroom where at least 10 of her students are trying to learn English, one has already been caught with alcohol, five have parents in prison, and 15 don't yet know their multiplication tables and can barely do addition and can only do that by using their fingers.
Add on top of all that the fact that you have to teach standardized-testing objectives accompanied by extreme pressure from the administration that your kids do well. How and when is a teacher going to find the time to help special-needs students?
The issues run far deeper than "Too often children who could easily be fully included in classes have been left isolated in self-contained classrooms." While there are students in this situation, there are as many with specific special needs (the most common being the need to be taught to read) who are putting in "seat time" in regular education classes. Unfortunately, if they are not particularly disruptive, not because they have learned the skill, many of these students are being passed from one grade to the next.
Many times this happens because it's easier for a teacher to pass them than to try and work with them for another year. These students then "graduate" without anything resembling an appropriate education. Many of these students would have been perfectly capable of succeeding in college had they received appropriate intervention in their education.
Susan Jones Urbana, Ill.
Regarding "In this ring, a tale of two Washingtons" (March 25, Arts&Leisure): Somehow in all of the excitement caused by the possibility of letting Mike Tyson stage his horror show in Washington, D.C., along with Washington's search for a way out of debt, we are managing to forget someone the young people of our country.
Now, more than ever, they are struggling with their identity and watching adults to find answers. Where do our children learn about right and wrong except from what they see around them? We can't send them the message that although it's wrong to rape, to maim, to rage, in the end it's okay if the result hosts a money-maker. There must be another way to meet the needs of our nation's capital.
Citrus Heights, Calif.
Regarding "Classical fades from the dial" (March 15, Arts&Leisure): Every time I read an article like this one, and it seems that there are more and more of them recently, I get terribly sad at what so many people have missed as a result of the movement among education administrations to eliminate classical-music education from schools.
Though I certainly do not expect everyone to appreciate what I call, for lack of any other term, serious music, I am sad such a large portion of a generation seems to have grown up without even being exposed to this very rewarding art form. Until governments learn its value, I see no remedy as music is the subject that gets cut by the fiscal sword.
Clyde S. Hiss
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