Not being hostage to teaching professionals

Regarding your Learning column "Impart math concepts at home? Sign me up for Parent School" April 11: We've been teaching our two children (second and third grades) reading and math, as well as science this year. When our son's school called to request that he be put into a Title One reading program, it was our first indication from the school that he was having trouble reading.

Instead, we decided to tutor him at home in the evenings. I pulled out a solid phonics program I had purchased a few years back and within a few weeks he was doing fine.

My daughter's struggle has been with math this year. Instead of focusing on the basics (adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing), the school curriculum has jumped from algebra, to geometry, to everything in-between. Needless to say I have been researching math curricula in the many homeschool catalogs that have sprung up and will be teaching her over the summer.

Teaching is an art. But so is parenting, marriage, driving in heavy traffic, etc. It isn't quite as hard as the schools want us to believe, yet for some reason schools are having to rely on parents to teach basic concepts. I believe a major factor for why children are not learning in schools is the inferior curriculums of textbook companies that are based on intricate teaching methods.

Local schools need not be held hostage to the large textbook companies and the latest teaching techniques. There is a world of wonderful, easy-to-understand and easy-to-teach curriculums available that bring solid results and are cost-effective. Many of them have been developed by educators who were fed up with the poor-quality curriculums they were forced to use in their local schools. It's worth looking into - not only for the well-being of our schoolchildren, but for the hard-working educators who have dedicated their professional lives to teaching.

Gretchen Garrity East Bridgewater, Mass.

A safe place for unwanted newborns

Your recent articles regarding "placement" of newborns ["Hamburg, a warm, safe spot for abandoned babies" April 4; "More states turn attention to abandoned-baby deaths" March 31] are intriguing.

These reports reminded me of the stories my wife and I were confronted with when we adopted our two daughters from China. For unique cultural reasons, and population policy, many Chinese parents were led to "place" newborns, primarily daughters, in conspicuous places to be found and taken to orphanages. In China, such practices are not "uncommon" or "tragic" when viewed in light of the alternative.

Your articles highlight a problem and a caring solution, albeit not a perfect one. More light must be shed on situations like this so that more people of goodwill can meet the challenge by stepping forward to fill the need, and with more caring solutions.

Tim Wibking Franklin, Tenn.

Census counting

Regarding your April 4 editorial, "Census nonsense": Have you considered another angle that may be driving the GOP leaders to exhibit such a negative tone?

One of the reasons why the Republicans in Congress were against the use of sampling was that most of the undercount from the previous census occurred within inner cities of areas that tend to support the Democratic Party. This undercount may have cost the Democrats seats in the House because of the redistricting efforts in the early 1990s. An even higher undercount will lead to further redistricting modifications that will favor the Republican Party - and possibly limited funding for Democratic cities. Is it any wonder why the Republicans in Congress are sending a very discouraging tone?

Michael Garramone Richardson, Texas

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