Letters for September 13, 2007

Instructor: Curve‘s a strikeout pitch
Re: “In education equation, X = IQ” (Guest Comment, by Roland Lamarine, CN&R, Sept. 6):

Professor Lamarine states that there is considerable variation in intellectual ability in the general population. Apparently, that variation applies to college professors as well.

Instead of reading The Bell Curve, Lamarine should read about The Bell Curve. The authors controversially state that blacks and Hispanics have a lower average intelligence than whites and Asians. Professor Leon Kamin, an intelligence researcher, said the book was “a disservice to and abuse of science.” Harvard University Department of Education psychologist Howard Gardner is also critical of the work.

In fact, author [Charles] Murray is a conservative think-tank analyst with a Ph.D. in political science, not education, and [Richard J.] Herrnstein’s legacy was badly tainted by The Bell Curve.

Perhaps Lamarine (who, it should be noted, is a professor of public health, not education or psychology) should do some reading about Jane Elliott, who created the famous “Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes” experiment. This experiment teaches us that students, regardless of intelligence, will perform academically according to the expectations set for them by their teachers.

Sure, students have different abilities, but they can all improve their skills and quality of life by getting an education. Lamarine’s recommended reading shows that, even with a Ph.D., you can still be fooled.

Jason Reisinger
instructor, Butte College

‘What, exactly, is success?’
After reading Roland Lamarine’s Guest Comment regarding intelligence in children being innate, finite and measurable, I have no doubts that our educational system suffers because of like-minded administrators.

As an educator, he should know that individuals possess different learning styles (i.e. auditory, visual, tactile and combinations thereof). Teachers incorporate different methods of instruction and develop their own styles, based on what is most effective and beneficial to their students.

Children who are read to often during their first five years are statistically better students. So, if a family is poor or functionally illiterate, its children will not be on the same developmental level as those in a family that can afford day-care that promotes early literacy.

Mr. Lamarine seems to be saying that all children are limited (or blessed) by their own IQ and that not even a terrible teacher can ruin a bright mind. I’ve met many genius engineers, chemists and scientists who could not parallel park or make a peanut butter sandwich, so what is intelligence? Who decides what information is useful and which abilities are essential to success? What, exactly, is success? Being a miserable rocket scientist or a fulfilled musician?

What bothers me the most is Mr. Lamarine’s affection for IQ. With the mind, you can’t simply measure the jar to expect its capacity. Receptivity, personal experiences, emotional or physical issues and environmental influences work together to help influence the learning child.

Those working as educators must embrace the unique individual, nurture the developing mind and gently guide the growing child. In the classroom there are no “less intelligent” children.

E. Renee Pangelina

Ad homonym (wink!)
Re: “Going with the flow” (Newslines, by Bryce Benson, CN&R, Sept. 6):

As a journalist and copy editor, I know too well how easy it is to get the wrong word sometimes. Like your headline “Labor Day float takes a new, safer route: party to busses to tubes"—you may have meant using buses, but it says kisses. Busses are kisses. Buses are the large vehicles with wheels to transport people, although bussing (kissing) could be involved inside.

Gary A. Kupp

Editor’s note: According to Webster’s Dictionary, buses is indeed the preferred plural form of the word bus. Busses is also acceptable.

Conservation over recreation
No one doubts that Frisbee golfers love their game. It is a wholesome activity that allows people of all ages to get outside and enjoy an activity in a beautiful natural setting. So what’s the problem?

Well, it’s the same dilemma that off-road vehicle users, hunters, fishermen, wildflower pickers, mountain bikers, backcountry campfire builders and artifact collectors face. Their pleasurable activities are often incompatible with preserving the very environment they are enjoying. By using it, they are losing it, and so these activities are closely regulated or banned outright

The National Park Service has managed to hang on to the mandate that in case of conflict between conservation and recreation, “conservation is to predominate.” If we can do this for the national parks, why can’t Chico do the same for our own beloved park?

The recently released Bidwell Park Master Management Plan Environmental Impact Report clearly states that the existing blue oaks are being irreparably damaged by disc golfers and that new seedlings are being trampled.

I am sorry that the disc golfers may have to move to a less spectacular spot, but I am much more sorry to think that their children and grandchildren may only see the haggard remains of what once was a blue oak woodland—the legacy of their parents’ and grandparents’ good times.

Enjoy the park, folks. Recreate to your heart’s content. But recognize that in this era, when humans have invaded just about every square inch of this earth, enjoying nature comes with unavoidable limits.

Hilary Locke

Not good for our health
With all the press this week reporting on last-minute efforts for California health-care reform by the governor, Assemblyman Núñez and Sen. Perata, why isn’t the mainstream press reporting on the truth behind these so-called “do gooder” politicians?

The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights reports that health insurers and their lobbyists gave Gov. Schwarzenegger, members of the Legislature and their political parties almost $4.1 million over the past six years.

Neither SB 8 nor the governor’s proposal will lower health-care costs—by mandating health insurance and not capping what they can charge will only encourage huge profits—and “junk insurance” companies will flourish with a governor-mandated policy.

We will never have true affordable health-care reform until we eliminate the health insurance industry’s profiteering and denial of care.

Sandy Goulart

Dueling assessments
Gen. David Petraeus used misleading statistics and cherry-picked intelligence to make the case for Bush’s Iraq strategy.

Independent reports found that violence is up. A comprehensive GAO report ordered by Congress stated that the “average number of daily attacks against civilians have remained unchanged from February to July 2007.” In August, things got worse, with civilian casualties rising, according to The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times.

The general said we’re making major progress—and we have to stay the course. Sadly, independent assessments show that things in Iraq have gone from bad to worse. Vote Ron Paul in ‘08 if you want a president who will do right for our country.

David Gould

Re: “The Goods” (Campus, CN&R, Sept. 6): In the “Get involved” item, the phone number for CHAMP was incorrect. It’s 895-4137. This has been corrected online.