Don't disregard electives' value
I was disappointed as I read Judy Spooner's Viewpoint ("A darn reality; sewing classes fade with time," Oct. 19). She felt that family and consumer science (FACS or sewing and cooking) was not necessary in the schools anymore. I'm also disappointed that the district cut FACS dramatically in the middle schools without notifying parents.
From what I heard FACS was cut in order to add more math classes for students who were not passing the state tests. First, it doesn't seem to make sense to me to put students in two to three math classes if they are already at risk or have difficulty in school. Forcing these students to study math two to three hours a day will surely make them hate school and put them on the path to dropping out. Second, at-risk students usually don't do as well in a traditional classroom. A classroom with hands-on activities, like FACS, would be more beneficial.
Anyone who has sewn before knows how much math is involved in sewing, such as measuring seams and patterns, measuring hems, body measurements and even reading a pattern. Students learn to create a garment from scratch and learn to problem solve. Anyone who does any cooking or baking knows there is plenty of math involved: fractions, doubling a recipe and more reading. Sewing and cooking involve real life, everyday math skills. FACS can also include financial literacy, such as balancing a checkbook, understanding credit cards and finance charges, interest rates, etc. Again, these are real life math skills.
To say that FACS classes are no longer relevant is untrue. In addition, considering 33 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, nutrition curriculum is critical. I am no shop or woodworking expert, but I would bet there is a lot of math involved in this subject area as well.
What electives will be next on the chopping block? Art? Choir? Band? I am no artist or musician but taking these courses made me appreciate the subject area. I put my children in full-day kindergarten so that they could get these electives and become more well-rounded. If I had wanted them to study math and science for half the day I would have enrolled them in a math and science academy school. I think the school district needs to educate students to be successful in life and well-rounded, not just to pass the tests.
Loss of Civil War history class appalling
I do not usually speak out like this but this article ("Add math, subtract the Civil War?" Oct. 26) has brought me to speak out this time.
I was appalled to read this article and realize how some people think our Civil War is so unimportant to our future children. First of all let me say that I did not appreciate our history when I went to school either. One time when I was having a knee surgery I started reading books on the Civil War and realized what our country was founded on. Since that time I have purchased all the CDs that I could find on the Civil War. I also worked at Newport Cemetery for 17 years as the superintendent and as I worked I would run across Civil War veterans' graves and found out there was a lot of Civil War history right there in my own cemetery.
I also met the great granddaughter of a river boat captain named Isaac Short who took Union soldiers down the Mississippi River to fight the rebel army. Also, the gravesite of a black Civil War soldier named Nickolas Gillard, who is buried in our cemetery. This also sparked an interest in all of the other wars we have fought over the years. I have a real interest in all of them now because they all helped to shape our country. I feel it is students' duty as well as their right to know about their heritage. I know that we have 19 Civil War vets, two Spanish-American War vets and well over 200 vets of all the wars we have engaged our sons and daughters in since. Please do not let this part of our heritage go down as not important to our history.
Glenn E. Boyd
Boyd was superintendent of Newport Cemetery from 1990 to 2007