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Readers Write: Unfair comparison for diverse US students; US media need global view

Letters to the Editor for the September 30, 2013 weekly print issue:

You cannot compare small, relatively homogenous student populations in other countries to our very diverse, multicultured US student population.

Too many American media take a narrow US-centered perspective. Americans need and deserve deeper journalism and a broader, global view.

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Diverse US students

The Sept. 2 cover story, "Global lessons for US schools," cites tests showing how poorly American students perform relative to their peers internationally. These assessments are based on unfair comparisons. During the 1960s and '70s I put up with numerous comments from my European friends about how much more race tolerant (read "advanced") they were than Americans. Once their countries added significant immigrant populations, the same issues we have in America surfaced there.

You cannot compare small, relatively homogenous student populations to our very diverse, multicultured US student population with its huge income ranges. These children are our most important resource. Support your public schools: They are the only ones who are required to teach these kids.

US media need global view

In John Yemma's Sept. 2 Upfront column, "A perspective worth striving for," he writes: "Readers outside the United States occasionally nudge us to remember that America is not the center of the world." Too many American media take this perspective. I recall one network news report in particular: A reporter stood on a white California beach to do a story about the leaking radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan.

She confirmed that unnamed experts admitted underreporting the amount of radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean. But the reporter assured her audience that the ocean would dilute the radioactivity before it ever reached American sunbathers.

Was neither she nor any of her producers concerned with asking the more obvious and pressing questions: Were the Fukushima reactors still in melt-down? When would they reach cold shutdown? The reporter seemed to be delivering happy news – not acknowledging what this disaster meant to 127 million people living in Japan. Does the American audience empathize only with other Americans?

Americans need and deserve deeper journalism and a broader perspective than this.


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