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Letters to the Editor

Thursday July 26, 2001

Black teachers can wipe out racial prejudice 




The best way to recompense the descendants of American slaves for the sufferings of their forebears and the present educational and occupational disabilities many endure because of their ancestry would be to eliminate racial (which is to say chiefly color) discrimination from our social outlook.  

This could be accomplished in one generation by insuring that the public school teachers K-12 be overwhelmingly excellent well-qualified instructors — and black. Children of all colors look up to good teachers. If white kids have mainly black teachers as their everyday role models they are not going to be prejudiced against blacks.  

Our bigots to the contrary, blacks on average can be as capable as whites at any task, intellectual or physical. So, rather than an ill-considered Bush handout like the tax cut, let there be established an impeccable government foundation, to finance from its outset the best education available for all blacks who want to be public school teachers and to make and keep a promise to pay, throughout their teaching years, to only black teachers so fostered, a considerable bonus — such a bonus as will financially maintain them in the upper middle class, well above today’s average teacher’s pay. Young blacks would come flocking. 

Such a plan should gain wide acceptance among the more thoughtful proponents of recompense for slavery. If honestly and earnestly carried out, black dominance of K-12 faculties could in one generation wipe out the shame of American life — color prejudice.  


Judith Segard Hunt 



A very odd Olympic dream 




I had a very odd dream the other night: I saw tens of thousands of people singing a strange song and wearing a red shirt with some strange symbol on it. Were they from another planet, or were they getting ready for the Olympics? 


George Kauffman 





Bush tax relief is just not enough 




Various letters to the editor have suggested what to do with the Bush tax refund. 

July 19, I received IRS Notice 1275. In big red letters is titled “Notice of Status and Amount of Immediate Tax Relief.” Then it says, “Dear Taxpayer:, blah, blah, blah. ... As part of immediate tax relief, you will be receiving a check in the amount of $13.50 during the week of 07/30/2001.” Then there is more information. 

I do not know if I received the “incorrect” IRS notice or the “correct” IRS notice. In either case, I will have to think long and hard what to do with my $13.50. Lets see, it will not pay my PG&E bill; or Pacific Telephone; or EBMUD. I suppose I could go to Starbucks and buy a pound of coffee. But since I am disabled, I guess I better apply the money toward a prescription. It might be nice to not have to make the decision of whether or not I eat or get my medication. 

If I really do get check for $13.50, the federal government has probably spent more than that in getting it out to me. 

What kind of logic is that? That is a waste of taxpayer’s money. 


John G. Cakars 



Taking SATs in native language is a huge boost 




Susan Bonoff, a college counselor at North Hollywood High School, says that native Spanish speakers bolster their overall SAT II test scores by taking the Spanish language SAT II tests. In a recent year, two of the top three North Hollywood High students were admitted to UC Berkeley while the other was admitted to Stanford. What distinguished their applications were their Advanced Placement test scores.  

Each had taken 22 or more of the tests, and had qualified for college credit on each. Any Spanish speaker in previous years could have taken the SAT II Spanish language test since it’s up to the applicant to choose the third test under current procedures, so in no way does a future language testing requirement account for the upsurge in Latinos having already been accepted at the university. In recommending that UC require only those tests that assess mastery of specific subject areas rather than undefined notions of “aptitude” or “intelligence.”  

Atkinson seeks to reverse a trend started by Harvard President James Conant in the 1930s. 

Conant had college boards that were so nearly a test of mastery of New England boarding school curricula that they couldn't be used to size up the applicants to Harvard from public schools in the Mid-West. 

“All too often,” said Atkinson, “universities use SAT scores to rank order applicants in determining who should be admitted. This use of the SAT is not compatible with the American view on how merit should be defined and opportunities distributed. The strength of American society has been its belief that actual achievement should be what matters most. Students should be judged on the basis of what they have made of the opportunities available to them.” 

Atkinson is right to reverse a trend which resulted in drafting low I.Q. fathers to fight for their country in Korea and Vietnam while exempting single college men. 

But, if too much emphasis is placed on the SAT I in UC freshman admissions, why retain the SAT IIs, while eliminating the only rival test currently available (the ACT)? Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo recently announced that it would prefer the ACT from now on. 

Atkinson, 71, a cognitive psychologist, has been a visiting Distinguished Scholar at the company which administers the SATs (both I and II). He witnessed his grandchildren, at the ages of 10 and 12, enrolled in an upscale private school studying verbal analogies. 

“I learned that they spend hours each month — directly and indirectly — preparing for the SAT,” Atkinson said, “studying long lists of verbal analogies such as ‘truthful is to mendaciousness’ as ‘circumspect is to caution.’” 

Mathematics is one of the three SAT IIs already required of prospective UC freshman (91,904 applied for the Class of 2004 on the campuses throughout the state). Kate Millet, the author of the classic Sexual Politics, says that “the independence and ego-strength necessary for first-rate achievement necessary in certain analytic fields [has been] completely absent from the cultural experience of nearly every girl child.”  

The effect of Atkinson’s SAT II reform will be to reduce the number of women at the campuses, the most competitive in particular (UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley). 

Zero point four percent of 91,904 UC applicants statewide took the Japanese language test. It’s a gross overstatement to say that SAT II language tests have given anyone an advantage in UC admissions up to now. Their high scores on Advanced Placement tests, on the other hand, have given North Hollywood High students an enormous advantage. 



Richard Thompson