Letters to the Editor
Readers write about the No Child Left Behind Act, examining "la plancha," and remembering the Korean War.
Does the 'No Child' act help kids succeed in school?
Regarding your Sept. 25 editorial, "Let the 'No Child' Law Do Its Work": For years parents have complained about the poor education their children were receiving in public schools. Finally, the parents were heard, and testing was mandated. Now the schools and teachers do not want to have to use an objective test. They would prefer a subjective test. As a former teacher, I have seen all the tricks used in "science projects, writing samples, and collections of student work" to judge students' accomplishments. These items are always a farce and never reflect the students' own work. Parents and teachers have in most cases helped or even done the work outright that supposedly demonstrates students' knowledge.
In virtually every case, if the student cannot do the math or English on the test, they cannot do it in the real world either. Whenever it appears that they can demonstrate practical knowledge, there is always a coach, parent, or teacher calmly ignoring the incorrect guesses, only to finally acknowledge the fifth or sixth guess and declare the answer correct.
This in no way helps students find a productive place in life. Many students are handicapped by this false education in the basics. Many have to take remedial courses as adults in college before starting their majors. Why not just teach them what they need to know and give them the test?
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
I am saddened to see your Sept. 25 editorial that supports the No Child Left Behind Act. This poorly thought-out legislation has had a devastating effect on our schools and students. As one who has recently finished my master's degree in education, I can assure you that just as many children are being left behind as before, but more severely. Teachers are encouraged to help students who are marginally below passing and leave the others where they are, either above passing or below, due to time constraints. Testing only is not the answer, yet it is almost the sole push behind NCLB, which is obviously a businessman's version of accountability (not a professional educator's).
We know how to educate students. There are highly successful schools that do it now. Those schools have students who have parental support and smaller class sizes. Since we do not have jurisdiction over parenting, we must do everything we can to decrease class sizes. Project STAR, a longitudinal study done in Tennessee, proves that the benefits of smaller classes are many and wide-ranging with the sole difficulty being cost. So we know smaller class sizes are better, but we are not willing to pay for research-backed decisions.
If we value education, we must get rid of ill-conceived legislation such as NCLB and turn to research-driven decisions that will benefit all students.
Explanation for 'La Plancha'
In response to David Keyes's Sept. 24 Opinion piece, Mr. Keyes has noticed an interesting cultural artifact: that Latino soccer players have named an especially dangerous type of tackle. Why did this happen in Latin America but not in other cultures? Why was "la plancha" given a name?
Two possible explanations come from opposite directions. Do Latino players tend to be more vicious, requiring that dangerous plays be named? Or are Latino soccer moms more horrified and incensed when a player is willing to cripple another just to gain a sporting advantage?
Remember the Korean war
In response to the Sept. 25 book review, "The cold cold war": With all due respect to the late David Halberstam's ability to convey the horrors of war, we should not forget that the Korean War (1950-53) was a test of the United Nations Charter in response to a state, North Korea, that committed aggression against another, South Korea.
As fought by the US-led allies against that aggressor and its Communist abettors, the war in the defense of international security gave truth to John Stuart Mill's famous statement: "War, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing is worth war is much worse."
Albert L. Weeks
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