New York's New Approach (Letter)

By Donna Garner
Submitted to the New York Times

Not published

James Traub is exactly right. As a classroom teacher for over 30 years, I can tell you that discipline and curriculum are the most important components to any school in any part of the United States. When allowed to control what goes on in the classroom, all but the most self-disciplined children will elect for the easy way out. Children are not little adults; they are simply children who need careful structure and guidance from the adults around them.

Any thinking person realizes that to build a strong house, you have to set the foundation in place first. In school much of that foundational knowledge is acquired through memorization and drill. Through creative methods, good classroom teachers can make that acquisition fun and exciting; and the self-confidence which comes to children who have learned the basics cannot be measured. Success breeds success, but a false sense of success based upon fluff breeds children who overestimate their abilities. These are the very students who drop out of school once they get into the more sophisticated courses in high school.

Mr. Traub is a knowledgeable writer who has obviously taken the time to read and understand the National Institutes of Health reading research directed by Dr. Reid Lyon. What a pity that Joel Klein did not do the same. The children of New York City will be the eventual losers while at the same time Joel Klein and Diana Lam will be adding big bucks to their personal retirement portfolios.

Donna Garner

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