Not So StupidSusan Reimer rides again! When we last heard...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 07, 1994

Not So Stupid

Susan Reimer rides again! When we last heard from Ms. Reimer, she was extolling the joys of housework and ladies' crafts. Since my blood pressure can only be elevated once or twice a month I try to avoid her.

However, I can't let her ignorance of public and private school students escape my expertise ("Remaining private or going public over school choice," Feb. 17).

There are rude and "stupid" students in both the private and public schools.

Yet according to Ms. Reimer, only public schools allow "stupid" and rude children. Private schools would never consider letting them grace their hollowed halls.

Wrong! I've taught nine years in private schools and nine years in the public schools of Ohio, Louisiana and Maryland. And I have found that in all three states and in both types of schools there are rude and ignorant students.

I personally never met a truly stupid student. But then again, I've never lived in Annapolis like Ms. Reimer.

After 18 years of teaching, I can honestly say that I am usually able to teach students (thus eliminating the term "stupid") and train them (thus eliminating the term "rude").

What I find is the main difference between private and public school students is the self-esteem of the students.

Private schools tend to have more parental support than the public schools. Parental involvement sends a message to the children. It says, "We care. We have made a sacrifice because we feel you are our future."

Sometimes the public schools become a dumping ground to deal with children that parents were not trained to deal with.

Perhaps the solution would be to teach the parents as well as the children to eliminate the "stupid-rude" problem.

Once again we have Ms. Reimer to thank for another stereotypical day in the suburbs.

Cynthia Ordes

Fallston

Loyalty Live

Ellen Goodman and the rest of the feminists are finally getting it. There is such a thing as military bonding. Maybe Tailhook should be taught, as Ms. Goodman suggested (Feb. 15), at the Naval Academy as it is a classic example of closing ranks and loyalty.

Anyone who has any contact with the military knows the unwritten code is never to disgrace your regiment. I can only cringe at "covert attacks" which followed when Lt. Paula Coughlin went public with her complaints.

As a woman, I was disgusted at the original story of the Tailhook convention but had no idea much of the lewdness was consensual.

This is quite a different picture, and I believe the Navy was wise to cover it up as both men and women voluntarily participated in behavior that was an embarrassment.

Ms. Goodman decries the inability of military men to take responsibility. To the contrary, they did, they protected each other.

She also hoped that the Tailhook scandal would produce wholesale change in military culture, yet fails to realize closing ranks is military culture. It's good to know loyalty in the face of opposition is still alive and well in the U.S. Navy.

Rosalind Nester

Baltimore

Kinder and Gentler

Mike Littwin's Jan. 21 approval of Shannon Faulkner's courageous challenge to the all-male Citadel (an apt name for a symbol of machismo) ignores some very basic tenets of human nature.

Any parent who has watched a small child take on larger and larger chunks of the world knows growth is risky and scary and requires a lot of support from an environment that feels safe and secure.

That may become less obvious as children grow into adolescents and young adults and learn to show the world how together and confident they are.

But the truth is that even as adults we all need, at times, to take a break from sticking out our necks to do challenging and ultimately growth-producing things in favor of laying low and staying with what is familiar, predictable and ego-affirming.

When Mr. Littwin characterizes the trend toward single-sex, single-race schools as a retreat, he ignores this facet of human nature.

While we can still support the ultimate goal of a world free of gender and race, the reality is that being "out there" when you are in the minority is pretty darned stressful.

Not everyone is equipped with a skin thick enough to rise to the opportunity and challenge of learning -- an inherently risky, potentially ego-deflating activity to begin with -- while facing the even more fundamental challenge of proving your worth from a one-down position.

While all-inclusive institutions may serve the function of "way-station between adolescence and life'," as Mr. Littwin claims, for some to whom social and political skills do not come naturally or easily there needs to be a kinder, gentler alternative -- namely the all-girls, or all-boys or all-black school.

Dana Morris-Jones

Severna Park

No Pensions

Theo Lippman's Feb. 20 article on congressional term limits is certainly accurate and perceptive as to the constitutional ramifications. I would like to suggest an easy solution to the career politician syndrome.

Abolish pensions for all elected officials. Period.

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