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The School Board's Fundamental Flaws

October 29, 1994

Regarding Christian ideology and the upcoming South County school board elections, letter writer M.S. Smith (Oct. 16) makes two erroneous assumptions that bear correction.

First, Smith states, "South Orange County is dominated by conservative Christians, so what's wrong with a board of similar values?" Here's what's wrong with it. Contrary to Smith's contention that an extremist and a conservative are one and the same, informed voters realize that what separates a religious right extremist from a mainstream conservative believer is the extremist's belief that our government should enforce scriptural law and the extremist's willingness to subvert the democratic process to achieve this goal.

The stealth election of two religious extremists to the Saddleback Unified School District board has led to two years of contentious and obstruction-riddled board meetings. Religious right school board members have proven to be primarily concerned about advancing their dogmatic religious philosophy at the expense of the students and parents they are elected to represent.

That's why Associate Pastor George Hooper of Shepherd of the Hills Church in Mission Viejo also has concerns about the Religious Right's involvement in local politics. It's obvious Rev. Hooper understands the First Amendment when he says, " . . . when one theological perspective is claimed as the only true Christian perspective on a political issue, it is demeaning to persons of all faiths."

Second, as a public school teacher beginning his 23rd year, I have had it up to my plan book with the insulting charge that our schools are failing and that, as Smith writes, "nothing could be worse than what we have now."

I invite Smith and other doomsayers to check out the numbers for themselves. By any standard of measurement--standardized achievement tests, the SAT, percentage of students graduated, percentage of students attending colleges and universities after graduation--Saddleback Valley and Capistrano Unified rank among the top school districts in the United States.

LEE R. WATSON

San Clemente

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