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posted: 4/5/2014 5:01 AM

Comity needed to fix education problems

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Richard Cohen's March 19 column, "No need to vilify the wealthy who fund these schools," was a retitled syndicated copy of his March 17 Washington Post op-ed, "Illogical hostility toward charter schools." A review of the op-ed and the comments on the related Post website indicate that Cohen is not familiar with the complex issues surrounding today's school wars as well as with Diane Ravitch's book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to Public Schools.

One of the many dangers referred to in the subtitle of Ravitch's book was aptly described in an editorial cartoon by Robert Ariail that appeared alongside the Daily Herald op-ed -- picturing the dismantling of a public school via vouchers to build a new private school. Of course that's not the whole story; not shown is the atmosphere that is poisoned by political polarization and pejorative, zero-sum-game rhetoric.

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Comity, that basic recognition of differences in values and interests and of the desirability of reconciling those differences peacefully, is sorely needed in today's rancorous school wars with their ongoing battles over Common Core Standards, charter schools, privatization and more. Positive contributions aimed at fixing problems with the standards and their implementation would go a long way toward satisfying this need -- so too would ending union bashing as well as the vilification of the corporations, foundations and wealthy individuals supporting school choice.

The U.S. Department of Education really needs help via a heavy dose of constructive criticism. We can only hope that our nation's teachers, with guidance from educational leaders such as Ravitch, can rise to the occasion and help resolve issues related to school choice and privatization as well as provide requisite corrective action on the manifest problems besetting the Common Core and its ill-advised implementation plan.

Frank G. Splitt

Mount Prospect

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