Teachers want distraction-free learning, not medication
Regarding your July 8 editorial "Teachers as drug therapists?": The Monitor is right in being concerned about the overmedication of children, but please be careful where you lay the blame. I've been a school psychologist for 25 years in two different states and it has always been a given that educators do not diagnose, and do not recommend, and certainly do not require parents to medicate their children.
Educators have been required by Congress and state legislatures to achieve very high academic standards with all children, a goal shared by all good teachers. Distracted and distracting children are at risk for not attaining such achievement.
My schools have special educators, programs, and committees with whom teachers work to help every child succeed. Teachers suggest and encourage parents to consult with their doctor regarding medication when alternatives have failed.
Teachers are not looking for the quick fix. Teachers have a sincere desire to see the individual student achieve potential and to assure that classmates are afforded uninterrupted opportunity to achieve.
Fort Collins, Colo.
To the extent the 11 million schoolchildren taking at least one psychiatric drug do so because some teachers and administrators are unwilling to "deal with unruly students," it could be profitable to reexamine the school-student relationship.
Families have no choice about whether to send their children to school. Families, unless well-off, have no choice among schools. Schools cannot choose students. That is a prescription for tension. Providing more options would lower the tension. Let families choose schools, thereby getting them to "buy into" their choices. Let schools choose pupils - with added funds following more challenging students.
Regarding Daniel Schorr's July 9 column "CIA weathers cycle of accusation - fair or not": It's one thing to fight terror and terrorists. Both are painfully real, as we know here and abroad. It's another thing, altogether, to invade a nation based on misleading information at best or lies at worst.
The American people deserve a simple answer to a complex question: Which one was it?
Laguna Beach, Calif.
A July 12 Monitor story, "New on the endangered species list: the bookworm," reports with some alarm that US adults are reading books less and less. This led me to imagine, 500 years ago, the Monitor reporting a rapid decline in storytelling as adults turned to reading printed books. How awful! Sitting around the evening fire, while someone told a good story, replaced by people going off, by themselves, to read a book! And how it is like human nature to long for the old and object to the new.
Even so, I suspect that the future belongs to those who find ways to use each new technology in the service of such enduring values as imagination, human interaction and, yes, storytelling. In fact, weren't some of our most treasured books - the Bible and Homer's works - just brilliant attempts to put the old storytelling content into the new written format?
Thus, I also imagine that, 500 years in the future, when books are as rare as storytelling, the most treasured cultural artifacts may be brilliant attempts to put our best books into some utterly new form of technology. Hold on to your seats. The future is coming.
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.
Any letter accepted will appear in print and on www.csmonitor.com .
Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.