Higher Ed

READERS REACT: “I made it” through college despite “working, dressing poorly, bad shoes, etc.”

This month’s letters to the editor discuss the impact of cuts to federal school aid, the phenomenon of richer students earning better grades and the advisability of preschoolers using computers

We receive dozens of letters to the editor every month. Readers react to our stories positively and critically and we welcome their feedback. Here’s a sampling of letters from the past month, lightly edited for grammar and typos.

Have something to say? Write us a letter (use the form at the bottom of any story) and it may be featured in a future post.

 

“Could it be that all this professional tutoring is actually enabling [upper middle class] students to perform better on their schoolwork? ~Virginia Buege, reader

Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to “The newest advantage of being rich in America? Higher grades,” which ran on August 16, 2017.

 

Dear editor,

Do you think this rise in grades has something to do with all the “tutoring” that is going on with upper middle class families?

We’ve recently moved back to the States and to suburban Denver. When we arrived, we kept hearing our neighbors (and other school parents (in both elementary school and high school) talking about their kids “tutoring.” We assumed this was tutoring to “catch up” but have since learned it’s tutoring to get ahead or stay ahead. We’re not sure if it’s simply an issue with working parents not having time (or the ability) to help their kids with homework or if it’s the part of the “race” to get into the “best” colleges–a race that appears to begin in preschool now.

In any case, could it be that all this professional tutoring is actually enabling students to perform better on their schoolwork (even if they don’t perform better on the ever-changing standardized tests)?

— Virginia Buege

August 23, 2017

 

“Computer skills like pressing buttons and swiping can be learned later but can actually interfere with a young child’s developing sense of how the world works.” ~Rachel Rich, reader

Dear editor,

There are a number of reasons to reconsider using computers with preschoolers (as described in “What does online preschool look like in Mississippi?” August 1, 2017):

  1. Finland and other countries with high student achievement do not offer young children computers at all. Instead, they rely on developmentally appropriate activities like telling stories, playing outdoors, experimenting with real objects, and playing with others.
  2. Brain science shows screen time is especially unhealthy for young children, leading to problems with attention and mood. (Psychology Today, et al) This is a risky experiment.
  3. Computer skills like pressing buttons and swiping can be learned later but can actually interfere with a young child’s developing sense of how the world works.
  4. The money would be better spent on home visits from a child therapist or social worker.

While some mean well in supporting these programs, others simply want to make a buck or throw the poor a bone – all without independent research backing their claims.

–Rachel Rich

August 1, 2017

“I went to the university with many sacrifices, working, dressing poorly, bad shoes, etc. Well, I made it.” ~ Richard R. Garres, reader

Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to “Trump’s proposed after-school cuts could lead to more hungry kids, lower test scores,” which ran on August 7, 2017.

Dear editor,

I was poor and my parents hade little education. I went to the university with many sacrifices, working, dressing poorly, bad shoes, etc. Well, I made it. That was before. If I had to start again… I doubt I could make it without a loan and then [I’d] become a slave for life.

A proposal — I think that the States should try this:

Make a contract with whoever wants to go to the university, amount those things, random checking for drinking and drugs. Then, if you finish and graduate, you will pay a portion of your income, deducted from your check, say, 7 percent; so, if you make a lot of money, you pay more, if less, the sacrifice is less; and of course, below certain point, the percentage must drop to 5 percent then 3 percent…

— Dr. Richard R. Garres

August 9, 2017

 

The day’s lunch at Cleveland, Mississippi’s Bell Academy, a banana, green beans, mashed potatoes with gravy, a whole wheat roll, and hamburger steak. Shenika Maiden, district nutrition director, said the children took to the healthier food after a brief adjustment period.

“Would we deny children food everyday even if there were no link [to academic success]?” ~Martin Blank, reader and interim director of Coalition for Community Schools

Dear editor,

This article (Trump’s proposed after-school cuts could lead to more hungry kids, lower test scores, August 7, 2017) reveals the harsh attitude toward poor children that many policy makers today. It’s a too-old story of hunger in the Mississippi Delta. I do wonder however about what seems to be the necessity of connecting everything our nation does to support low-income children to their academic success. Yes, the research does show the link, clearly. But would we deny children food everyday even if there were no link? Let’s just do the right thing for our children…and then they will succeed in school and life

–Martin Blank, Coalition for Community Schools

August 7, 2017

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