- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

Treating panic attacks

As a clinical psychologist who specializes in treating the types of anxiety described in the article “Gripped by panic” (Metropolitan, Tuesday), I would like to set the record straight on one point.

The writer depicts cognitive behavior therapy as a method that merely “focuses on ways to reduce anxiety rather than the causes.” This misrepresentation oversimplifies CBT. Cognitive behavioral methods recognize the importance of causation. However, unlike insight-oriented treatments, which emphasize the role of early childhood experiences, CBT places greater weight on how current and long-standing thought patterns contribute to distress.

Even though traditional talk therapy can be extremely helpful for many problems, it is not the treatment of choice for panic attacks or obsessive-compulsive symptoms. Research consistently has shown that the most effective methods incorporate some form of behavior change to help break the cycle of anxiety.

LYNNE S. GOTS

National Center for the Treatment of Phobias

Anxiety and Depression

Washington

Teacher accreditation

Robert Holland’s Dec. 15 Commentary column, “Multicultural shaping of teachers,” misrepresents the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the teacher-preparation accrediting body.

Mr. Holland says NCATE is a “partner” of the National Association for Multicultural Education; he casts NAME as an entity that seeks to “mold future teachers … who will reject the continuing Anglo/Western influences on the core curriculum.” NCATE is not a NAME partner and does not pay any dues to NAME.

Immediately after the reference to NAME, Mr. Holland discusses “a small-group workshop this year” at which teachers were encouraged “to rewrite a curriculum they view as oppressively Eurocentric.” Readers are led to believe this was an NCATE workshop. This is not true.

Let me correct the mistaken impression that Mr. Holland leaves with your readers about NCATE and its standards:

The council has six standards.

Standard 1 says that teacher candidates must know their subject matter and how to teach it so that students learn. To ensure that candidates are exposed to nationally agreed-upon standards for the teaching of math, science, social studies and more, NCATE expects accredited institutions to design and deliver their programs in each content area using the standards of the professional association in each area (for example, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). NCATE’s focus on subject matter is rigorous and thorough.

Standard 2 says that the college of education must have an assessment system and document candidate performance throughout the program of study.

Standard 3 says that the college of education must partner with schools from preschool to grade 12 to design and implement clinical practice to ensure that candidates demonstrate the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to help all students learn.

Standard 4 says that the college must provide the curriculum to help candidates develop the knowledge and skills to help all students learn.

Standard 5 says that faculty must be qualified and model the best professional practices in scholarship, service and teaching.

Standard 6 says that the college of education must have the resources, including technology, to support the programs it offers.

Obviously, Mr. Holland does not like NCATE’s standard relating to diversity. He promotes a campaign of disinformation about NCATE. Diversity is a fact of life in America. Teachers must be prepared to meet children who do not speak English and are from vastly different backgrounds from the teacher. Is this wrong? We think not.

ARTHUR E. WISE

President

National Council for Accreditation

of Teacher Education

Washington

Don’t bet on AARP

I need look no further than the full-page advertisements in the paper each day (“If we feel like gambling, we’ll play the slots,” Wednesday) to understand that AARP is not about helping seniors (or anyone else) make an educated decision about the future of Social Security. It is about fear mongering.

I would think AARP would take advantage of the literary “real estate” it has purchased to coherently argue the pros and cons of various options presented by our elected officials concerning the future of Social Security. Instead it makes unsubstantiated “gloom and doom” statements and implores you to call your representatives in Washington. Talk about a disservice to its members and the reading public in general.

In the 68 years since we started taxing incomes to pay for Social Security, the tax rate has increased 520 percent. After adjusting for inflation, the cap on income subject to Social Security taxation has increased 126 percent. Combining these factors, the maximum amount taxed per employee has increased 1,302 percent. That sounds like your typically efficient government program to me, and no one has convinced me that this trend will not continue for another 68 years, especially not AARP. Who’s gonna pay for that?

PATRICK MCGINN

California, Md.

Free free speech

With respect to yesterday’s front-page article “Atheist lawsuit awaits ruling,” I have some questions. Whatever happened to the concept of majority rule? Why should we let one atheist force a change in our long-standing, widely accepted custom of swearing an oath with a hand on the Bible?

Why should we accept Mr. Newdow’s wrong definition of the word “establishment”? How can having a Christian minister say a prayer at an inauguration be considered establishing a religion? The president doesn’t have to put his hand on the Bible, and two presidents did not. The U.S. government has never established a religion, and no one has ever been forced by law to accept a government-established religion.

However, the government is required to allow public expression of religion. A government elected by the people and for the people may allow the people to have a minister at important ceremonies. If the majority like it, they should be allowed to have it. What should not be allowed is revisionist history that denies that this country was established on religious principles.

CHARLES J. MCCARTHY

Rockville

In the big debate started by Michael Newdow about the presentation of religion in the public square, I feel one significant point has been missed.

The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”

The significant point here is that Congress shall make no law. Nowhere in any of the applications of religious speech has there been the element of a law being made by Congress.

There also is no federal law prohibiting the display of religious symbols. There is no law prohibiting spoken prayer in any public place. The Constitution does not say, “No citizen of the nation shall make any public pronouncement of his or her religious faith, nor shall any citizen display any religious symbol in public.”

The responsibility is on Congress not to pass any law establishing a religion. The embarrassment of any individual is not legislated against, nor is there any law that says Mr. Newdow shall not feel like an “outsider.”

If Mr. Newdow and his supporters want to go by the letter of the law, we must go by the letter of the Constitution.

JACK DORWIN

Livingston, Texas

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