In his letter, Tom Steele correctly recognizes a significant factor in California Assessment Program score variations: the attitude of the parents toward education. Unfortunately, he proceeds to empty the scatter gun that many foes of public education all too often fire.
True, many of our students are poorly prepared. Many arrive poorly prepared, lacking cultural literacy. Without the ability to draw on the foundation which must have its beginnings in that most critical period of birth to 5 years, there is little wonder that many children cannot comprehend what they read, and turn on instead to that which is understandable.
Tragically, "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll" are the only subjects understandable to many adolescents. Do these kids care about CAP? I invite Steele to guest-teach my sixth-period world history class for two weeks next year to see what I mean.
True, our schools are not performing as we would like them to. Proposition 13's parsimony keeps educators unable to plan aggressive programs incorporating new educational research. Meanwhile in Huntington Beach, we work in a district of declining enrollment with a disproportionate decline in funds, awaiting the outcome of a partisan budget fight in Sacramento to see what local programs must be cut this year due to inconsistent and irresponsible funding.
The "bottom-line" opponents of public education harp endlessly about the cost of this labor-intensive business. But we contend that the cost of a 12-year education is infinitely less expensive than that of 12 years' incarceration. Without quality public education available to all citizens, we risk the latter cost.
DOUGLAS W. SCOTT,
Huntington Beach District Educators Assn.