EDUCATION: Same issue, different views
I just read Mike Ruskovich's Dec. 11 "My Turn" column. He and I have two points of agreement: Our First Amendment rights (all of them) are important, and education is valuable (both to individuals and "The stability of a republican form of government...").
However, I have a few comments and questions: First - He asserts that electoral support for candidates who favored a cut in state education funding (along with many other program cuts he didn't mention) equals a "disregard for education." This is clearly not a "published fact" as he later claims. Obviously it is his opinion and is therefore influenced by his "ideological and political leanings." There is nothing wrong with that, it's normal. But when other people form opinions in that context he believes it's wrong?!
Second - Perhaps he is wrong. It may be that his critics are not demonstrating a disregard for education in general. They may be expressing dissatisfaction with the mish-mash of political correctness, the wonders of diversity, the evils of capitalism, the greatness of socialism, the unquestionable truth of anthropogenic global warming and nonjudgmentalism that constitutes a significant part of public education today? I don't know, but that possibility makes at least as much sense as his unsupported conclusion.
Third - Ruskovich states, without factual support, (again) that money is important in education, and (by in context logical extension) that more money means better education. On that point he is either ignorant of the facts or is lying! Statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Education (www.nces.ed.gov) show that during the 30-year period from 1971 to 2001 per-pupil annual spending increased from $4,479 to $8,996 (just over 100 percent). During that same period NAEP reading scores for 17-year-olds were unchanged! Math scores did improve, by about one percent! These figures are national averages, and, yes, the dollar amounts are inflation adjusted, (i.e. constant dollars).
The quality of public education is influenced by many things, but throwing additional money at schools is not the way to improve it. Does Mr. Ruskovich and/or his family work in the public education system? I don't know, I'm just asking the question. But his columns do sound a bit like the reaction of someone whose personal ox has been gored.
LARRY L. MORRISON