The value of multicultural teaching

Regarding "School texts with too much agenda" (March 9), in which you interview Sandra Stotsky, author of "Losing our language: How Multicultural Classroom Instruction Is Undermining Our Children's Ability to Read, Write, and Reason" (Free Press): Mea Culpa! I am one of those education professors who has assisted in the ruination of future and in-service teachers by encouraging them to see literature as coming out of human experiences and to make selections as representative as possible of the "universals" of humankind within our shores and beyond.

I know right away that Stotsky's new book "Losing Our Language" really means "Losing Her Language."

Dr. Stotsky charges that "new readings are not up to the standards of the children's classics they replace," that they "demonize white society," are "pseudo-literature," and are part of an "anti-intellectual tide." How sad that real-life experiences of some of us don't fit her idea of nice-nice. Don't change those negative experiences, just pretend they don't happen. Would she have banished "The Grapes of Wrath" as social studies with an attitude when it was introduced into the high school curriculum?

If she is afraid that white children will be made aware of our social inequities, I have news. By and large they know. Many are concerned and want to do something.

Dolores Sandoval Burlington, Vt. Director, Race & Culture Course Program University of Vermont

I was saddened by the Monitor's choice to cover Dr. Stotsky's book, which is a very poor piece of scholarship and an example of how racism still pervades our society.

The book title clearly implies that instruction that tries to provide students with stories about people of many different cultures is inherently inferior to the way classes used to be taught, with a focus on only one culture (white culture).

This is frighteningly racist and completely unsupported by Stotsky's evidence. What she has found is that some of the new multicultural books are not very good. This does not prove that multicultural instruction is inherently worse for students than past methods.

Noah Purcell Seattle, Wash.

No safety net for corporate hog farms

Your news about farm problems could be more complete. Regarding "Congress sews a safety net for farmers" (March 12): Hog overproduction is caused by corporate hog farms that overwhelmed the market with overproduction.

This should not be rewarded with any congressional safety net. This uneconomical venture should meet its own end, and end the pollution and putting farmers out of work

Peter Grant Bristol, Vt.

Follow the money Your March 8 Opinion page contained two articles that sadly didn't go far enough. "America's misguided drug war" argued that we'd do better by addressing the demand for drugs rather than their interdiction. But the author didn't say why our government is interested in cure rather than prevention.

In "US must sign the treaty to ban land mines" the author, who lost a foot to a land mine while camping in Israel, rightly indicts Clinton for not signing the treaty and points out how our commander in chief quails (no pun intended) before the ever-rogue Pentagon. Again, the author fails to say why.

The why is the same in both cases: Too much money is being made by the perpetrators of our drug war and the manufacturers of our land mines. Follow the money, name the money-makers. Failure to do so shows either naivet or demagoguery.

Lanny Cotler Willits, Calif.

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