Board of Education member Jackie Goldberg's name ws mentioned several times in letters to The Times (March 6), "Nuclear-Age Curriculum."
"So Jackie Goldberg wants to teach our children about nuclear war . . ."
"If Goldberg is concerned with national political issues . . ."
"Jackie Goldberg ought to keep her political views out of the school board rooms . . ."
"If Jackie Goldberg, whose political persuasion we all know . . ."
To set the record straight, the Los Angeles Unified School District administration (independently of Jackie Goldberg) has been working almost two years on science and social studies curricula dealing with nuclear issues. After weeks of study and dialogue, six out of seven Los Angeles school board members (Greenwood, Gershman, Gonzalez, Weintraub, Walters and Goldberg) voted Feb. 25 in favor of the resolution to work on curriculum materials for nuclear education.
Before the vote was called, proponents and opponents of the measure presented their views to the board. Superintendent of Schools Harry Handler answered questions and supplied budget data. Discussion on the resolution was patient, reasonable and courteous.
Obviously, letters printed by The Times need not be reasonable or informed. But I want to thank The Times for printing the letters using Goldberg's name. I plan to use them in my English and journalism classes as examples of the misuse of language through faulty logic and hidden premises.
Perhaps opponents of public discussion of nuclear issues would feel more comfortable living in the Soviet Union where freedom of speech is denied.
KATHLEEN M. HUGHART
As I read the letters on nuclear education, I felt that the opinion of a student should be heard. Now that I am a college student, I realize the inadequate amount of nuclear information I learned in elementary, junior high and high school. At the college level, however, this subject is regularly discussed in science, history,a nd political science.
In my opinion, this abrupt transition was quite a shock. Why hadn't this subject been taught earlier in my education? Do parents, teachers, and administrators really believe we are that naive? Do they think we aren't aware of the possibility of all life on earth being radically altered by the decisions of a few people pushing "the button"?
A recent study done by Harvard University questioned more than 1,000 students in grades 5 through 12 on their thoughts of the future. The results showed that their second largest worry was nuclear war (the first was their parents dying). In th November, 1981, issue of Bulletin Of Atomic Scientists there was an article titled, "Nuclear Ignorance." It stressed a great necessity for nuclear information in our schools. "For atomic scientists and those working in related fields the reality of nuclear weapons and the possibility of nuclear war is strong." (Ward Wilson, Princeton University)
This statement is a horrifying reality for me. Nothing you can teach us in school can scare us more than watching nuclear war become an acceptable situation.
When I see such groups as Educators for Social Responsibility trying to change the outdated curriculum to include some nuclear reality, I feel hope for the future. We need to learn about the real world. Why do some people promote nuclear ignorance? Maybe they think that what we don't know won't hurt us. It's too late; we already know. We have an urgent need to learn the nuclear realities so we may continue living in the nuclear era. Remember--we are our future. (I Hope).
LESLIE VANESSA NANASY
It is unfortunate that there are those who would present the issue of nuclear age education in a liberal vs. conservative framework, or dismiss it as an inappropriate assignment for today's public schools.
A commonly stated goal of education is to prepare young people for a good, productive life, both for themselves and for the socieities in which they will live. Today, the chance for a good and productive life and the very future of our society is threatened by the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. How can we ignore this overwhelming fact of life in the eucation of this and future generations of students? How can we expect them to make informed decisions on national security as voters or as direct participants in government, the military of defense industries, without a common base of understanding?
The question therefore, is not whether this subject should be in the schools, but how it is to be presented. There is a real need at this point for age-appropriate, balanced curriculum materials, which deal with the complex issue of nuclear weapons and international security.
As Theodore Hesburgh, president of Notre Dame University, putit: "Students should be given a clear, precise and scientifically accurate picture of what faces them today, what will happen if , and what intellectual, moral and political options they have if their generation is to emerge safely from this corner into which we have painted humanity."
It was with said amusement that I read some of the responses to the proposal by Jackie Goldberg that the schools prepare a curriculum designed to help young people cope with the problems of living in the nuclear age.
I was amazed to read that there are still some dinosaurs around who believe that ignorance is bliss. "Don't tell the kids about the bomb. You'll only scare them." As if they weren't scared already. Pretending fear doesn't exist is not going to sweep it away.
As for the lady who says that it's the job of parents to deal with the fears of their children, I absolutely agree. The problem here is not deciding whose job it is. The problem is that the job is being done badly, if at all. One look at the suicide rate among young people is sufficient evidence that some of the people whose job it is to give their children emotional support just aren't doing it.
Frankly, I'm tired of the efforts of both the right and the left to make political hay out of the nuclear issue. We're not talking about taxes or bond issues here, we're talking life and death. It's time everybody knew the difference.
As a former teacher, I see that it is very relevant to offer a study of nuclear weapons, war and conflict-resolution to our students. The Santa Monica public school system has authorized this for more than two years and numerous religious and private schools h ave done so also. I see no reason why the Los Angeles school board should be disparaged for offering this unit of study. It is our duty to do this.
For all of history man has sought ways to assure safety for himself and his family. In our nation, when we have disputes, we resolve them through negotiation and a court of law. In the world of nations we still rely on war as the final arbiter of disputes.
There is great confusion in thinking of nuclear weapons in the same way as conventional weapons. Let's look at why and what these are, the issue of war and how we struggle to achieve peace on our planet. By offering students this opportunity, we can begin to face a most public and urgent issue of all time. Kids are people too; they should be allowd in on this debate.