In response to the Feb. 5 Opinion piece, "Bush's double standard on race in schools": I used to teach in Florida, and I can say that mass testing of students causes the most discontent that teachers feel for their bureaucracy. No Child Left Behind has turned out to be a disaster. The regulations have only instilled fear in the hearts of teachers and piled more paperwork on them.
The pattern now for about 30 years seems to have been that bureaucrats cry about money for the schools and then put nearly every penny into a top-heavy administration, into testing, or into textbooks that a teacher of 45 students doesn't have time to use. At the center of any school should be the teacher in the classroom and the number of children in that class. A waiter who is working five tables knows his customers better than one who is working 10.
Do people really have any idea of the cost of marking and managing standardized tests? And for whom are the tests made and graded? The teacher may never see her own class's test results. Her school may fail or it may pass, but she herself will never know if Johnny got his answers right. And she's the only one who's going in Monday morning to teach Johnny spelling.
Tel Aviv, Israel
In response to the Feb. 2 article, "Washington takes aim at C.E.O. pay": Despite the fact that corporate executive platinum pay packages have soared into the stratosphere, there are still free marketers who proclaim that these brilliant captains of industry deserve their compensation packages. Let's set aside concerns of the ethics or morality of awarding such enormous recompense in a nation that is becoming ever more economically polarized.
We should encourage corporations to award whatever royal salary they deem to their CEOs – the more the better. Then, tax all earnings over, say, $2 million at a rate of 100 percent. The revenue would be earmarked only to fund nonprofit institutions. This would be a true win-win solution – not only would the CEOs realize their well-deserved compensations, but they would also be recognized as great humanitarians and philanthropists. Now there's a solution that even Andrew Carnegie could approve of.
Regarding the Feb. 6 article, "Are Gaelic-only laws linguistic apartheid?": I take offense at homeowners who don't want to respect the culture of the location in which they have chosen to reside. I've traveled a lot and always respected the language of the country I was in. A long-suffering nation such as Ireland fought hard to retain what was dear to it. The Irish people's language was essentially denied them for hundreds of years. It isn't too much to ask that people study from a book or attend classes to attain sufficient knowledge to pass an exam.
After reading the Jan. 30 article, "A picture-perfect year in review," about a mom who writes yearly letters to her son, I felt a lot less guilty about all those unsorted, undated photos scattered all over the house. I was also reminded that my mother, now suffering from Alzheimer's, wrote an annual letter to each of my sons until they entered high school. Those letters are especially meaningful now. Thanks for the good read.
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