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Letters to the Editor - Weekly Issue of October 25, 2010

Readers write in about capitalism and school reform.

Praise for capitalism?

John Hughes's column in the Oct. 11 issue, "Now, even Cuba finally gets it: Capitalism works" gave me pause. I find it ironic that Fidel Castro has given the impression that he favors capitalism at the very same time that the world is in the middle of another of the serious recessions that capitalism inevitably and regularly produces.

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Though Mr. Hughes does make some important points about the Cuban dictatorship, he seems to ignore the fact that the US style of capitalism has also failed, again and again.

Look at the results of unbridled deregulation and greed over the past 20 years, which have bankrupted the world's economies, decimating the middle class and benefiting the very rich.

One can hardly glorify capitalism so unreservedly when it must be bailed out time and again by the government and taxpayers. It is time to reevaluate whether capitalism really does work as well as we think, or whether it is a myth propagated by those who benefit most from it.

Additions to school reform

Jim Bencivenga's Oct. 11 commentary, "To lift a school, invest with care," didn't adequately emphasize a vital requirement for a superior education: discipline.

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Teachers need full parent backing on issues of discipline and performance, and schools must then back up teachers as well.

Irate parents too often challenge teachers on these issues. Some teachers, to avoid dealing with such irate protesters, may feel pressure to inflate grades or feel unable to tackle the problem.

While Mr. Bencivenga declares that parent contracts on "mutual responsibilities" help "lawyerproof" a school, the realities of this possibility in the public schools are slim. Unlike private and charter schools, regular public schools have to accept and retain every child, and every parent.


Mr. Bencivenga urges schools to fire salaried staff members that don't teach at least a class a day, asserting that "even the school nurse and the librarian should teach real kids a real lesson."

This implies that librarians are not actively involved in instruction. In many cases, this couldn't be further from the truth.

As a school library media specialist, I taught real lessons to real kids for 29 years. They were fully integrated into the curriculum and collaboratively planned with teachers.

Libraries are vibrant places, and librarians are an integral, rather than extraneous component in student progress. I would expect to see more support for professionals who continue to enhance learning for the entire student body.

Beach Park, Ill.

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