Cuba e-news #254 - Response to Venezuelan educational policies
Aw yes, one of the joys of being part of an on-line community--people do
take the time to respond. The responses that I get to the e-news range from
encouragement, to friendly inquiries, to in depth replies, to great leads
to other stories or issues. Today was one of those fun-response days. I
feel that I have made some real friend over the past year via the
e-newsletter. In a way, the kind of information sharing on the web is like
the over-the-back-fence conversations that were characteristic of my
growing up in Montana. Or the five minute
hand-shakes-while-passing-the-time-of-day that I encountered while walking
on the rural roads (foot paths) of Kenya, the times that I took my students
to Africa in the early 90s.
I have included a few such responses today.... Jane always makes my day
when she responds (whether it be with her scholarship or her personal
touch). I thoroughly appreciate Doris's unyielding passion. And Larry
always hits the nail on the head with his erudite letters to Congresspeople
Here are some responses to yesterday's e-newsletter regarding Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez's new educational policies. Incidentally, for those
of you whom are maintaining a library of Cuba e-news articles, I
mis-numbered yesterday's issue. It should have been numbered "e-news #253."
A Healthy Way to Start the Day
Gary -- I burst out laughing when I got to your line about having to get
some sleep so you could extol the virtues of capitalism the following
morning to your students! That was good for my mood after reading the
morning newspapers! abrazos -- Jane
Hi Gary --
Hooray for your observations and how right you are. One observation you
might throw out to your students is, "Capitalism doesn't work!" Except, of
course, for a few, but for the rest of us, it is an exploiting system (and
WE are the majority). Why do we have economic depressions, or rumors of
depressions. Why do we have to suffer through the ups and downs of the
stock market? Why do we have massive layoffs of workers periodically, while
at the same time more restrictions and cuts to unemployment insurance? Why
do we have slums and people living on the streets? Why are there millions
of people unable to afford medical treatment for their families?
Well, you get the idea. My husband and I are retired teachers and lived
through the McCarthy period of loyalty oaths etc. Freedom of speech?
Freedom to Teach? I congratulate you on what you are doing to enlighten
your students and am in awe that you are able to take your students to a
"communist" country and let them see for themselves that they are not ogres.
We appreciate our efforts in sending us the Cuba Newsletter to keep us
-- Salud, Doris
Larry Shoobs Letter #1 to the Journalist
Pdte. Hugo Chavez' Education Policies
Dear Mr. Tamayo -
I typically find your articles to be refreshingly fact-based and
balanced more toward telling the truth than towing to CANF party line.
Thus, I was really disappointed to see that in your article on Venezuelan
President Hugo Chavez' attempts to reform and restructure his country's
educational system, you have sunk to Liz Balmasedian depths of murky
illogic, sly innuendo, and half-truth.
First of all, I would assume you would realize that any educational
system -- state, religious or secular/private -- has at its core some sort
of ideology which in turn, influences and informs all curriculum, and, for
the operational viability of said school system, adherence to that ideology
is expected not only of teachers, but of parents and students as well.
Thus, one rarely finds Muslim children enrolled in Christian Evangelical
academies, and I dare say that Francisco Aruca's children would not be
welcome at the local Lincoln Marti School. Further, I suppose you have
never heard of Junior ROTC programs which begin recruiting at the ninth
grade level throughout the U.S.?
Even today most public school systems in the US require their teachers,
administrators and NON-academic staff to sign an oath of allegiance to the
U.S. Constitution and to avow that they are not members of or affiliated
with any group that seeks to overthrow the US government. And my views on
fertility and family planning pretty much assure that no Catholic school
would ever hire me -- a regular communicant, even though I would be
teaching such un-topical subjects as Latin and Medieval and Renaissance
History/Art History/Literature. Are you with me?
More to the point: There is probably a very simple reason as to why
President Chavez is interested in Cuba's educational system, and it has
less to do with promulgating ideology than it has to do with simple
logistics. Just compare Venezuela's literacy rate with Cuba's. (UNESCO can
provide you with these statistics, there is a point at which I refuse to do
someone's homework for them - the hallmark of a good teacher, I might add!)
Now ask yourself, what better way to achieve Cuba's near universal literacy
rate than by emulating the system and methodologies which helped make this
achievement a reality. Viola!
Exito! No commie plot. No VeneVision t.v. audiences filled with youth in
pionero scarves. Liliana can still chat it up with Don Francisco on Sabado
Gigante, and you can still applaud her without fear of meeting Mr.
Rest assured, Mr. Tamayo, Fidel is NOT lurking under every bed, despite
Luisa Yanez' and Vanessa Bauza's lurid fantasies.
Larry Shoobs Letter #2 to the Journalist
I rest my case ....
Dear Mr. Tamayo:
Apropos of my first message to you, I have highlighted below an excerpt
from Supreme-Court appointed President Bush's "State of the Nation" speech
"Values are important, so we've tripled funding for character
education to teach our children not only reading and writing, but right
from wrong. We've increased funding to train and recruit teachers,
because we know a good education starts with a good teacher."
Question: what do you suppose Mr. Bush means by right from wrong? And
what values is Mr. Bush referring to? And wouldn't you agree that Mr. Bush'
values and sense of right/wrong are highly subjective, and that, as the
appointed President of the US, Mr. Bush will push for his values and sense
of right and wrong to be infused into educational curriculum?
I can only hope that you will write a column taking Mr. Bush to task for
daring to infect education in the US with such ideological concerns.
PS - Speaking of education as indoctrination, guess what: The Jesuits
like to say "Give us boy till age six, and he's ours for life."
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