- The Washington Times - Monday, September 4, 2000

Letters on Boy Scouts get it all wrong

Regarding your editorial "No tolerance for Boy Scouts" (Aug. 25) and the letters in response by George McAllister and Paul Silva (Aug. 30), I would like to offer some facts about the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) that will dispel some of the misinformation.
First, BSA is not a publicly funded organization. It is a nonprofit group that receives no tax dollars. It is funded by its members and the generous donations of its friends.
Second, BSA does not claim to be a Christian organization, and never has. Members of the BSA represent many religious faiths, including Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, to name a few.
Regarding a Scout's religion, the 1911 Handbook for Boys clearly states: "The Boy Scouts of America therefore recognize the religious element in the training of a boy, but it is absolutely non-sectarian in its attitude toward that religious training… . The Boy Scouts of America, then, while recognizing the fact that the boy should be taught the things that pertain to religion, insists upon the boy's religious life being stimulated and fostered by the (religious) institution with which he is connected."
The current Boy Scout Handbook states: "A Scout is reverent toward God… . Throughout your life you will encounter people expressing their reverence in many different ways… . It is your duty to respect and defend others' rights to their religious beliefs even when they differ with your own."
I hope this clarifies a few important details. Whether one supports or opposes BSA policy, the debate is futile if the facts continually are skewed.

Contrary to what George McAllister and Paul Silva claim in their letters, the Boy Scouts of America gets no public funding, subsidies or any special treatment not available to other charitable organizations.
Money given by individuals and businesses through the United Way or the United Federal Campaign is not public funds. The Supreme Court ruled that organizations cannot be discriminated against for use of public facilities, parks, etc., on the basis of viewpoint.
Mr. Silva, in particular, shows total ignorance of the Boy Scout policy on faith.
The organization requires only a belief in God. Jews and Muslims are welcomed since they believe in God. Because of their actions, not any viewpoint, homosexuals are not.
Mr. Silva, I know of no Christian who wants to deny others of faith their First Amendment right to exercise their religious beliefs. But the rights of Christians should be honored as well.

Leonard Slatkin deserves bravos for bravery

The remarks of Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, may have been blown out of proportion, but his point that concert music is a visual as well as an aural art is well taken (" 'Slatters' rear-ends a symphony and gets a whiplash," Aug. 31).
Just as members of an orchestra play in concert, meaning in harmony, subsuming their individual musical desires to the conductor's design, so should they dress in a manner that conveys a harmonious impression.
That modesty and circumspection are a part of appropriate concert dress is something most conductors would hesitate to say publicly. Mr. Slatkin deserves, at the very least, bravos for bravery.
When 7-year-old Frederic Chopin's mother asked him after a recital which part of the concert the audience liked best, he replied, "They liked the white silk collar that you made me." Clearly, music can have a visual impact.
New York

Column takes arrogant and misguided stance on Sudan[p]

Reading A.M. Rosenthal's column ("Despotic Sudan's bid for status," Commentary, Aug. 28), one could only wonder how a person with so little knowledge of Sudan could dare preach to the whole African continent on what to do and how to do it.
Is this not "cultural arrogance" in its clearest form? Or is it simply a pathetic desire to lecture faraway Africans on how best to address their own problems?
Sudan's nomination for a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council enjoys the support of African leaders who, we may humbly assume, are in a better position to determine which member within the African family is capable of representing their interests in this august body. Indeed, Africa never would have given Sudan its confidence and recognition had the situation in the country been similar to what Mr. Rosenthal's column falsely portrays.
Those who prove to be so averse to any positive developments in Sudan kindly are requested to leave the country alone. Their distorted logic and one-sided views do little to help the people they pretend to care about. A constructive approach is what the people of Sudan need, not Mr. Rosenthal's disgust.
Permanent representative
Republic of Sudan Permanent Mission to the United Nations
New York

Test scores validate bilingual education

Linda Chavez should refrain from disseminating misleading information or belittling education experts who base their findings on thorough research and facts. Her Commentary article "English advantage vindicated" (Aug. 26) presents, at best, a premature, incomplete and inaccurate scenario.
No matter how much Mrs. Chavez would like to discredit bilingual-education programs, they work. Within the California bilingual-education programs that survived through waivers, children's test scores have increased. In a study sponsored by the Diane Middleton Foundation, 10 schools with significant bilingual-education programs were analyzed closely and found to have outperformed English-immersion schools including schools in the Oceanside district extolled as a success by Mrs. Chavez. We should replicate these successful bilingual-education programs, not try to dismantle them or ban them in the states that need them most, as some are now attempting to do in Arizona.
When it comes to scores generally, all the rhetoric is about students in the lower grades; it is sad that no one seems to care that scores for high school students are showing no improvement. Reading in first to about fourth grades is centered on the process of learning to read, but in the later grades, it is about understanding content. Therefore, students in immersion might do better temporarily than those in bilingual education in the lower grades, but that gap narrows as students approach fifth grade, in which the bilingual students actually do better.
The truth in California is that all test scores went up: scores of students that were never in bilingual-education or English-immersion programs, and scores for schools that never had bilingual-education or English-immersion programs. These scores went up not because of or despite bilingual-education or English-immersion programs. School boards, communities, parents and legislators need to find out which of the many initiatives in California are most responsible for the overall test-score increases class-size reduction, teacher training or something else and implement it across the board, for all children, native English speakers and limited-English-proficient (LEP) students alike.
But regardless of the increase in general test scores, Mrs. Chavez fails to highlight that the gap in test scores in California between LEP students and native English speakers in math and English has widened in almost every grade level since the ban on bilingual-education programs went into effect. Arizona, whose citizens will vote this fall on a proposal to ban bilingual education, should avoid similarly harming their children by voting against the measure and demanding true success instead.
The bottom line is that youngsters need to learn English to succeed in school. So far, immersion has not succeeded in teaching youngsters enough English in one year so that they are ready to enter mainstream classes. This shouldn't be a game about spinning numbers to someone's political advantage; it should be about ensuring the long-term success of LEP students. Only two or three years' worth of LEP children have been subjected solely to immersion, and we will have to see how they progress through their future schooling to assess the full effects of English immersion.
Education policy analyst
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

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