Roselva Ungar: In praise of good public education

Metro Creative

I have been very impressed by the editorial “Dynasty stifles engagement in SCV” published April 22 in The Signal, in which you have committed to battle negative campaigning and to promote civic engagement with the “goal of making our community the best it can be.”

I heartily endorse these goals.

I also noted that you have asked for conservative views to bring balance to the Opinion page. I believe you are already doing this.

Jim de Bree’s informative columns, Sally White’s thoughtful questions, Dr. Gene Dario’s concern for our health, and Cher Gilmore’s concerns for conserving our earth all speak from a conservative perspective.

All of these are but examples of the many contributions from persons of integrity and knowledge that have graced The Signals pages.

I submit that many excellent columns and letters do not fall into liberal/conservative categories. Therefore, perhaps more meaningful criteria are whether the writer speaks with accurate information and experience, presents with civility and helps bring our community together in a respectful way.

Unfortunately, there is one frequent contributor who violates each of these criteria. I have been involved in public schools across the state, and especially in Los Angeles and the Santa Clarita Valley for over 60 years.

I know that Mr. Baker’s May 3 letter to the editor “Now’s the time for school vouchers” is incorrect and filled with tired, meaningless invective such as “socialist indoctrination system,” “suppression of conservative principles,” “imposed values,” “radical agenda imposed by the teachers’ union,” “Sacramento leftists,” “drummed in propaganda,” and other false accusations about the role and conduct of public schools.

If Mr. Baker has any specific incident he wishes to criticize, he should present that to the responsible school board, rather than broadcasting his unproven, divisive displeasures with public education in general in order to promote vouchers, which have been rejected by voters and educators repeatedly.

Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy, embodying the most fundamental ideals of the American dream: equality of opportunity. It is the one institution of our society that knits us together as a community and binds us to a set of shared values.

Never have I seen a public school or a teacher who does not strive to follow these goals. In addition to the 3 Rs, we teach fairness, respect, good work habits and, as students move through the grades, we teach them to think for themselves, to evaluate information, and to arrive at their own conclusions.

No teacher “indoctrinates,” forces her/his opinions, or presents material as undebatable fact whether teaching social studies or science.

No widespread system of education has done a better job of bringing students of all classes, races, religions and genders together with basic standards of education – tolerance, cooperation and respect – as they search for their own place in the world.

Roselva Ungar is a Saugus resident who was recently honored by Los Angeles County for her years in elementary school education and in support of the federal Head Start program.

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