To the Editor:

After reading Suzanne Fields’ column in Friday’s paper questioning the value of the NCTE standards, I felt I had to write in response. Initially, her column angered me; then that anger diminished as I realized that anyone who understands what a standard is would see how off-base her comments are. Unfortunately, Ms. Fields, who has not kept up with terminology and methodology in the field of language arts, has chosen to ridicule something she doesn’t understand.

Yes, for some time, some lost ground in language arts classrooms because students were drilled on isolated fragments of grammar, vocabulary and excerpted literature without ever putting everything back together. However, sanity prevailed, and new curricula actually require students to perform and perform in highly technical, critical and creative ways.

Ms. Fields should have read some current literature on methodology along with her Shakespeare to realize that “literacy communities” is a succinct way of saying peer groups, teachers, literary competitions and publications, public forums, university entrance committees, and on and on. Writing for each of these entities is different and requires skill, critical thinking and certainly creativity. Students who learn to function as involved, reflective and knowledgeable members of writing groups have gained skills for lifelong learning.

Then, for her to single out recommendations of fringe elements of an organization as vast as the NCTE to ridicule seems needlessly picky, even unfair. These suggestions were not approved.

Students who have the benefit of informed instruction based on the standards adopted by NCTE or NCTM or other scholarly organizations will perform well in life, whether pursuing post secondary education or work in a technical world. And I for one can say my students will not only have read Shakespeare, but they will understand his work now and will be able to read him and write about him in the future without my leading them by the hand.

G. Louis Rowles

Classroom Teacher


Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute

State of Mississippi Language Arts Curriculum Writing Team

published abridged

I watched part of the Oprah Winfrey Show this afternoon where Lisa Herdahl and others were on her program. If Lisa Herdahl doesn’t want her children going to school where they have prayer in school over the intercom or however, why doesn’t she just take her children out of school and give them home schooling like some people have? Prayer shouldn’t be stopped in the school just because of her children. Why doesn’t she just go back where she came from. I don’t see how one woman can have so much power to stop prayer in school. There can never be too much prayer anywhere. In fact, there is not enough prayer anywhere. Lisa shouldn’t be teaching her children against prayer anywhere. She should encourage that prayer should be allowed everywhere. I hope she and her group doesn’t win. A Christian would want their whole family to hear prayer anywhere anytime. I don’t see how anyone could be against prayer anywhere anytime. Madelyn Murray O’Hair was against prayer in places. Now her son is for prayer in Pontotoc School or anywhere else. I don’t see why it was even brought to court. People wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for the Lord, so we can never be thankful enough for what the Lord has done for us all, and He loves us all and wants us all to serve Him.

Dixie E. Hood


published abridged

Last week I read a news article about the Tenn-Tom Waterway Authority trying to change the names on the locks. I personally feel that if the names have been sufficient for the past 14 years, why change now? The article stated that they wanted to change Bay Springs Lock & Dam to the Jamie Whitten Lock & Dam in honor of his achievements. That’s fine, but do we need one more? There’s already a Jamie Whitten Center in Fulton commending him on his life’s work in Congress, and what about the Jamie Whitten Bridge that spans the Tenn-Tom Waterway on the Natchez Trace. I personally think enough is enough.

To change the name of a government facility, it has to be done by going through an Act of Congress. To do this a bill must be drawn up and passed through Congress and signed by the president. Then all the navigation charts have to be changed, all the signs on the waterway have to be changed, the signs on the buildings have to be changed, and finally all the road signs have to be changed. Just think of the millions of taxpayer dollars that are going to be spent just to change the name of just one lock, and they’re talking about changing several names: Bay Springs, Locks A, B, C, D, E and a few others.

Don’t you think it’s about time to stop and think about what’s good for our country and stop wasting our tax dollars on foolish ideas.

If you think that this is a waste of your tax dollars and you want to voice your own thoughts, write to the: Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Authority, P.O. Drawer 671, Columbus, Miss. 39703, or call 601-328-3286 or fax 601-328-0363.

Christopher Mills

New Site

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