Kennedy didn’t wreck our schools

To the editor:

I give a certain amount of credit to the Review-Journal’s Vin Suprynowicz for his long commentary on Ted Kennedy (Sunday, Aug. 30). He certainly brought out the persona of the youngest Kennedy brother and thereby provided a fine reaction to the syrupy bromides that filled the media over the weekend of Sen. Kennedy’s death.

But perhaps Mr. Suprynowicz should have left his writing with that dissection. After all, most would agree that Ted Kennedy’s ultimate legacy will not be decided for some time to come. Yet it is easy to conclude that as a legislator he had few equals, particularly in the last 20 years in which he represented the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Further, the bulk of his work pushed a greater responsibility on the federal government to provide for the needy and the disadvantaged. For many, this sort of intrusion represented all that is wrong with America’s cultural changes over the past 50 years or so. This debate will continue long after the rhetoric surrounding Sen. Kennedy’s death subsides.

Yet Mr. Suprynowicz proceeds to prolong this discussion of Kennedy’s failures with his rather tiresome theme that the American public schools, like so many bureaucracies in our midst, are a large part of this terrible transformation that has been going on for the past number of decades. He says they do little but "loot" the public monies. Further, the public schools, not very good at teaching the fundamentals, as Mr. Suprynowicz argues, are somehow quite skilled at coercing the young into the evil ways of liberal thinking. The logic in his thinking here is not very convincing.

I do think Mr. Suprynowicz has relied far too heavily on John Gatto’s many works. Look beyond Mr. Gatto’s work for a more even-handed assessment of American schooling over the past century.

Also, Mr. Suprynowicz gives far too much credit to teachers for their ability to indoctrinate students. There are very few teachers who are in any way equipped to do this sort of thing even if they wanted to. Surprisingly, on the whole, schools do a reasonable job of teaching the basics in reading and writing. Do students come up short in their abilities to reason and to think in a critical manner? Probably, but that doesn’t mean they are only indoctrinated in bureaucratic ways of thinking.

School critics are legion, and Vin Suprynowicz is among their number. I don’t want to belabor this point too much, but Mr. Suprynowicz has written many times in earlier pieces that he prefers little to no organized public schooling. And I would further point out his idea of turning education over to gun-carrying parents, whether on the left or right politically, to do as they wish as parents, would be a disaster. Often this household that is held so dear to Mr. Suprynowicz is in the hands of a single parent who might be very adept at indoctrinating their children into a lifestyle mirroring that of the parent. Is this what we would call enlightening education? Or is it a pathway to anarchy?

Ted Kennedy’s life in many ways was hardly one the young should emulate. But please leave that aside from any extended criticism of America’s schools. Ted Kennedy was hardly responsible for these failures.

T.W. Lindenberg

NORTH LAS VEGAS

 

Hand out

To the editor:

To my pleasant surprise, the Review-Journal ran a letter to the editor Thursday by someone praising President Obama’s idea of including a public option in health insurance legislation. I heartily agree with Richard Secrist of Mesquite that "there is no doubt the government can do it cheaper."

The rest of the civilized governments are supplying all of their citizens with medical care at far less cost than our private insurance companies do for fewer than two-thirds of our citizens. So what’s the argument? Is it socialized medicine if democratically elected congressmen control it? We can vote them out in the next election if we don’t like the way its handled. What control do we have now over the out-of-control cost of health care in this country?

Mr. Secrist says, "You can call it socialized medicine if you want, I don’t care. Just give it to me." To this, I add, "Me too! "

Paul Gwin

LAS VEGAS

 

Obama and kids

To the editor:

Hearing that President Obama is giving a speech to the schoolchildren of America reminded of a time some 50 years ago, when there was a newspaper strike in New York City. Mayor Fiorelli LaGuardia, a people’s mayor, decided to read the funny papers to the children of the city. He didn’t just read them, he acted them out in warm, mellow tones, and as he did so, he encouraged the children to work hard in school, to be respectful of others, and to be good boys and girls,

People on the right claim that in one speech Mr. Obama will convert America’s children into socialists. Do you believe that?

I think the president, as Mayor LaGuardia did before him, will try to encourage our children to be good boys and young men, good girls and young ladies, to be responsible citizens, respecting others, and to try their best in school and in their other endeavors.

Here’s a homework assignment for parents. The White House will be releasing the speech on Monday. Why not access it online, or in the Review-Journal on Tuesday when the speech will be made, and list the points you agree with, and any you disagree with, and discuss them with your children Tuesday night?

That some people think the president of the United States talking to the country’s children is some kind of disaster, just shows how politically dysfunctional this country has become.

Richard J. Mundy

LAS VEGAS

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