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Commentary | LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Home Is Where the Smarts Are

June 12, 2004

Re " ... And the Rest Is Up to the Parents," Opinion, June 6:

I read Bill Cosby's comments on the role and power of parents with great interest. I have been involved with education for many years, earning advanced degrees and supervising the education of my children (even home-schooling one of them). I am currently working toward a secondary teaching credential. As I have been taking classes toward the completion of the credential, I have been struck by the fact that teachers are asked to do much in California schools.

We are to teach to California state standards, prepare our students for testing, make sure they are academically ready for college and emphasize character and citizenship. But as teachers attempt to accomplish these tasks, they are only able to work with what the parents send to them. If students are not prepared -- with preparation requiring proper rest and nutrition, and a family that emphasizes the importance of education, including the completion of homework and appropriate behavior in the classroom -- the task of the teacher becomes impossible.

Though Cosby is speaking to African American parents, his admonition applies to all parents; it indeed does start and finish in the home. Parents, please allow teachers to do their job at school by doing your job at home.

Nancy Bednar

Manhattan Beach

Cosby is correct when he says that, as parents, "we must demand that our youth have an understanding of spoken and written English, math and sciences." However, he left out one key subject: music. Studies have confirmed the importance of music in the development of the brain. Other studies have shown improved reading scores for students given instrumental lessons. What can parents in Beverly Hills offer their children that parents in Watts cannot? Instrumental music. What is an essential educational component in the high-testing Asian culture from an early age? Instrumental music. So, even though we feel shocked and helpless, parents don't need to be passive. We need to fight for instrumental music in our elementary schools.

Wendy Velasco

Whittier

I applaud Cosby for stating what has been evident in the educational system: Education is a community effort. If one person is to be held accountable for all the shortcomings of our children's education, then we have truly failed our children.

Christine Gonzales

Brea

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