Ruth A. Wooden's Sept. 9 Opinion piece, "Needed: a more disciplined approach to learning," hits the nail squarely on the head as far as the problems in schools go. The education establishment; school boards; city, state, and national government still cling stubbornly to the very flawed assumption that, generally, parents raise their children to behave well enough in school. Unfortunately, that's no longer the case, and teachers have not been trained to maintain the firm hand of discipline.
Nevertheless, flailing helplessly for answers, government entities and educational experts insist on adding increasing numbers of administrators; more federal government control; and money, new buildings, equipment, and (of course) taxes for schools.
Perhaps smaller class sizes would help teachers. What if schools could compartmentalize classrooms, each with a third of the students? Put up glass walls for partitions, so that the teacher can keep an eye on the other two-thirds of the class. The teacher could move between the rooms and the students would have a short lecture, then time to do homework. For tests, all the doors could be opened so that the teacher could hear whether there was talking or not.
As the mother of two school-age children and the daughter of a professional educator, I was thrilled that the Sept. 8 article "Quick! Is Johnny signed up for daydreaming?" challenges the practice of "overprogramming" children.
When my son was in preschool, he was one of two in his class of 20 that did not play soccer. For a while, this gave me a bit of a complex: Would my son end up being a social misfit? But when I inquired, I learned most local leagues "require" one to two practices a week, along with at least one game. That's a minimum of three nights a week for kids who are just starting their formal educational journey.
I'm not saying that sports don't have an important role to play. They're a great outlet for stress, keep our bodies healthy, and encourage confidence and team spirit - all admirable goals. But let's get our priorities in order.
The title of the Sept. 8 article, "Salary squeeze threatens middle America," exaggerates a trend and not an actual problem, given that the article concedes there is only a 1.5 percent decrease in what some call the middle class. This hardly seems to be a big, looming threat.
Part of what seems to be happening is that some jobs, such as waiting tables, are being touted as middle-class. When I worked my way through college in the food-service industry, the jobs were hardly middle class.
Many people bemoan the fact that businesses outsource or move elsewhere, without looking at what is driving them out. The costs of hiring employees and paying taxes, workmen's comp, and other fees in some states are astronomical. Instead of spouting dogma, Americans should look at the root causes of problems and work together to solve them.
Wichita Falls, Texas
Regarding the Sept. 2 article, "In an electronic age, the letter endures": Letters will endure because: (a) value is attached to the physical - ask congressional representatives which one they take more seriously, the handwritten letter or the e-mail; and (b) people like to have a passing acquaintance with their money. (I pay all my bills with checks, even though I don't get the canceled ones back from my bank.)
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