What readers are saying.
Condoms in Schools
With the pressure on schools these days, it's easy to understand how a school board could step into certain areas with the notion that they're doing the right thing (Understanding the Times, December). Schools are required to face the ramifications of babies having babies.
Prevention is easier to deal with. I'd like to believe the school health center is being very responsible and not handing condoms out like pencils. I'd also like to think the school board did some type of parental survey.
It all comes down to the bottom line: Are they doing what's best for the students? I was a counselor for 16 years, and I wish we could protect our junior high kids from being exposed to issues and situations they aren't ready for. The school board isn't the problem here. Like us, they're just trying to find solutions, so we should focus our energy on helping them do that. The fact that "only five out of 500" students reported having sexual relations is likely skewed. It's much higher on average.
Sherry Westergard, former superintendent, Brockton (Mont.) Public Schools
Daniel Kinnaman's December article brings some sanity to an issue that has become quite confused. It is amazing how far awry presumed "adult logic" has taken some middle-school children. This kind of thinking is that same kind that could lead to the district introducing a program for students to learn to drink alcohol responsibly.
Jim Dever, technology coordinator, New York Mills (N.Y.) School District
Reading Less or Reading More?
I am writing to clarify Stephen Krashen's November DA blog posting (www. DistrictAdministration.com/pulse), "Are We Reading Less and Reading Worse? Probably Not." First, the title of his article and its conclusion lack an empirical basis, and the National Endowment for the Arts has issued substantial evidence to the contrary in its recent report, "To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence."
Mr. Krashen laments the report's omission of data from a few small studies, whereas most of the analyses on which the report's conclusions are based derive from large, nationally representative studies of statistical validity.
His statement that "all of these surveys are suspect" is simply false. To the contrary, "To Read or Not to Read" is based on an abundance of reliable data from federal, private, academic and nonprofit organizations. It is unreasonable, as Mr. Krashen proposes, to compare a Pew-reported reading rate of 34 percent in 2002 with separate survey results of 21 percent in 1945.
The point is not that the steepest drop in 12th-grade reading scores occurred between 1992 and 2005, but that the scores continue to decline.
I urge Mr. Krashen to be less complacent where American reading habits and skills are concerned.
Sunil Iyengar, director of research and analysis, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C.
Krashen responds: The surveys are suspect because responses to questions about reading may not refl ect true reading habits. This has nothing to do with the number of people interviewed. Pew just reported that 38 percent of adults said they engaged in book reading. In 2002 Pew reported a figure of 34 percent, and in 1991 31 percent, suggesting that reading is increasing, not decreasing. It is reasonable to compare this to a 1945 report of 21 percent because the data come from a national survey that asked the same question.
NEA reported a drop of 14 points for low scoring 17-year-olds between 1992 and 2005, but does not indicate that most of this happened between 1992 and 1994, a gigantic and bizarre drop for such a short time interval.
Stephen Krashen, professor of education emeritus, University of Southern California
Kudos to Stager
I really appreciate Gary Stager's columns, especially "Stop the Insanity" (Speaking Out, October). It contains the key points for working effectively with at-risk kids.
Charles Chrystal, director, offi ce of special programs, Royalton-Hartland Central School District, Middleport, N.Y.
Innovation in Construction
We would like to address the accuracy of the statement, "One construction industry executive recently told me there is virtually no innovation in K12 school construction, yet it's generally more costly per square foot than other commercial construction," which was published in Daniel Kinnaman's column (Understanding the Times, October).
It is not accurate to compare educational construction with commercial construction, because an educational facility is constructed to last at least 30 years, whereas commercial is expected to last maybe ten years at best.
As LEED professionals, we are doing more and more with sustainable strategies for educational facilities to reduce operating costs and provide healthy learning environments.
We believe your comments are making an inappropriate comparison.
Michael E. Hall, chief marketing officer, Fanning Howey, Celina, Ohio
Letters to the Editor may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Judy F. Hartnett, District Administration, 488 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851. Selections that are published may be edited for length and clarity, and become the property of District Administration.