Mixing fact, fiction unfair to education, educators
Thomas Sowell, syndicated writer, propagates his parochial propaganda in his column with myths and half truths. Sowell alleged recently that U.S. students rank near the bottom on international tests. He ignores the fact that our nation has compulsory education laws while foreign countries require their secondary schools to be college preparatory schools.
Furthermore, since our high schools and universities are "farms" for the professional clubs, the college test scores have dropped dramatically; remedial courses, watered down courses, tutoring, etc. have been inserted to keep the professional bound athlete eligible in college.
During the 1930s, Calculus was a second-year course in college. The secondary schools presented pre-Calculus courses so well that Calculus became a first-year subject in college. Now in many high schools, pre-Calculus and even Calculus is taught.
An article in The Vindicator July 31 had the headline, "Class of 2002 surpasses averages on big exams." Sowell alleges that U.S. schools do not devote enough time on academics. This contradicts the above news item which states that the schools have a core curriculum of four years of English, three of Math, social studies and natural science. Also, white and oriental pupils were more likely than blacks to be enrolled in a core curriculum in high school.
Sowell would do us all a favor if he would stick to fiction writing.
MELVIN S. FRANK
Classy thing for Traficant to do would be bow out
I have been following with much interest the embarrassing trauma to which Jim Traficant has subjected my hometown. In an earlier letter to The Vindicator, I attempted to place Traficant within the culture and history of Youngstown, arguing that he is a master at portraying himself as the victim of those forces and people who have historically treated the working folks of Youngstown poorly. He has never learned that politics can and should be more than feathering his own nest or bringing home the pork.
Now, he has launched his campaign, from federal prison, to be re-elected to Congress. Will he be able to serve his constituents if elected? No. Will he be able to take his seat in Congress? No. His only role in the election if he is not elected will be to diminish the chances of the Democratic candidate and to increase the likelihood that Youngstown, a working class city with a proud history of labor activism, will be represented by a Republican.
As usual, Jim Traficant's campaign is not about the legitimate needs of Youngstown, an industrial town hurting from the onslaught of post-industrial forces. We will hear little from him on how to revitalize the central city; how to address neighborhood decay; or the growing problems of drugs and violent crime; or how to fund and improve the school system; or how to counter the damaging impact of corruption on the city's reputation and livelihood. Instead, we will hear about an FBI, Justice Department, Reno/Ashcroft, Chinese conspiracy that victimized him. We will hear that this nation of immigrants should seal its borders and buy only U.S. products. He will try to get us to feel victimized by the same evil forces to which, he claims, he has fallen victim. In short, his campaign will be about Jim Traficant and his self-serving and sad willingness to accept none of the responsibility for his own failures.
By entering a race he cannot win, but can only spoil, Jim Traficant has clearly shown that his priority remains himself. His proper priority should be to serve the good people of Youngstown. It would be classy of him, at last, if he would bow out of the race.
PAUL W. McBRIDE
Ithaca, New York