Survey Says ... But Wait, It's Not a Survey
The front-page article "US Companies Move to Curb Sexual Harassment on Job," May 30, states that according to a 1992 survey by Working Woman Magazine, 62 percent of the readers had been sexually harassed.
This was not a survey, but a poll that was printed in the magazine asking readers to respond. These are called self-selected listener opinion polls and they are useless for finding pertinent information. A famous example is a 1936 self-selected listener opinion poll that showed Alf Landon beating FDR by a landslide. There are two problems with using such data: We cannot know if the population that reads Working Woman Magazine is anything at all like the population as a whole, and a poll of this type does not tell us a thing about those that did not respond.
The author then cites a "survey" of 182 Chicago tradeswomen. This time 83 of the respondents claim to have been harassed. What 182 people can tell us about the treatment of half the population is questionable at best.
Ann Arbor, Mich.
Stop the cycle of blame in education
In the opinion-page article "The Bane of Better Schooling: State Red Tape," June 14, the author blames state bureaucrats and their regulations for the failures of our public educational system. However, while few people would deny that the various educational bureaucracies share some of the blame, it takes remarkable gall on the author's part to suggest that the responsibility is theirs alone.
The only way to restore quality education is to impose tough national standards and demand accountability at all levels: teachers, principals, superintendents, state bureaucrats. Educators must assume responsibility. They must be well compensated for their success or face the consequences for their failure.
Given the option of meeting an objective review every year based on rigorous national standards, or being fired, it is a safe bet that professional educators would spend less time pointing the finger of blame and more time figuring out how to help our children meet a standard of excellence.
Public higher ed prepares students for life
Regarding the article "Liberal Arts Colleges Prepare Students For Life," June 17. It is quite audacious of the author to imply that only liberal arts colleges prepare students for life and that they do it "at no greater cost than other forms of higher education. The only difference ... comes from the fact that public universities are subsidized by tax dollars and private colleges are not."
The yearly cost of an education at Denison is well over $20,000. The actual cost of education at public colleges, of course, varies. But at Arizona universities it is in the $7,000 to $8,000 range (for out-of-state students, so that Arizonans are not charged for them).
Having taught at both public and private universities, and holding two degrees from private and two from public higher education institutions, I am convinced that both can contribute to preparing students for life.
Edw. H. Rybnicek
Professor Emeritus of Sociology
Northern Arizona University
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