The Baytown Sun from Baytown, Texas on April 27, 1986 · Page 7
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The Baytown Sun from Baytown, Texas · Page 7

Baytown, Texas
Issue Date:
Sunday, April 27, 1986
Page 7
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Page 7 article text (OCR)

THE BAYTOWN SUN Sunday, April 27, I 1 7-A Bennett believes in God and his country WASHINGTON (AP) - William J. Bennett has angered plenty of people in his career in the academic world and the Reagan administration. So far only one has tried to poison him. That was in a fancy hotel in Stockholm in 1977, when the burly doctor of philosophy made the mistake of trying to order a cheeseburger. The waiter sniffed, 'American,' and I said, 'What's the problem with that?"' Bennett recalled. "He said, 'Well, should we begin with a discussion of the war in Vietnam?' "And I said, 'Let's not talk about an old skirmish like that. Let's talk about the big one, World War II. Where were you guys?'" Bennett said, alluding to Sweden's neutrality during the war. " 'You guys ought to be ashamed of yourselves.' " In retaliation, Bennett says, the waiter "poisoned my hamburger. 1 went up to my room and was very sick and then I came down and looked for him. I was furious. It was an attack on me, it was an attack on my country." The waiter got away, but few of Bennett's targets do. The U.S. secretary of education is ever ready to clobber an adversary in fighting for what be believes in: ' God. country, the classics and the man he calls his mentor. Ronald Reagan. The lone Democrat in Reagan's Cabinet, Bennett is a stout conservative. He stands foursquare behind tradition and values, and makes no apologies for Reagan's efforts to squeeze almost S3 billion from the Department of Education's S18 billion budget. Money isn't everything, he tells critics. "We proved that in the '60s and '70s. We spent and spent and we dumbed and dumbed," he says. His vigorous defense of budget cuts and equally vigorous advocacy of lax breaks and other help for parents who choose private schools has led Hep. Augustus Hawkins. D-Calif. chairman of the House Kduca- lion and Labor Committee, to call Bennett an enemy of public schools Says Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers and an old friend of Bennett's: "When it comes to supporting standards and discipline and a good research operation, he's terrific. When it comes to fighting for his budget, he's a flop." The bully pulpit seems to be Bennett's natural habitat. He has mounted it to champion his addition to the three R's: "the three C's: content, character and choice." After acquiring a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Texas and a law degree from Harvard, Bennett gained a reputation as a traveling salesman for the humanities. He taught at Boston University while working with high school faculty around the country to restore history and classics to the curriculum. And he hit the lecture circuit to attack an educational fad called values clarification that held sway in many American schools in the 1970s, when teachers studiously avoided imparting their own views of right and wrong. He has continued to work both themes since becoming secretary of education in February 1985, and has given a special emphasis to the third C: choice. The climate in America is right, he says, for giving parents more say over what school their child attends, whether public, parochial or private, including more choice among public schools. To facilitate choice, he favors giving S300 tax breaks to parents who send their children to private schools, and offering vouchers worth an average of S600 to poor families whose children need help in reading and math. The voucher plan, for all Bennett's efforts, appears dead in the water. It came under fire from moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats at a recent House hearing, where one lawmaker called it "a swindle." There has been no action — not even a hearing — in the Senate. Bennett has criticized colleges that he says are "ripping off" students with shoddy offerings. He has lambasted professors more interested in "teaching their dissertation or next article or book" than the classics. He provoked students in his first week on the job with what came across as a smart-alecky defense of budget cuts. Some students, he said, could do without aid simply by undergoing "stereo divestiture, automobile divestiture, three- weeks-at-the-beach divestiture." He scores political points even when he is pitching such an unassailable proposition as the need for the schools to teach children American history. "Our children will not recognize the urgency in Nicaragua ... if they have never heard of the Cuban missile crisis," he told one conservative group. He stirred a hornet's nest by pronouncing federal bilingual education policies a failure and denounced as "crazy" a Supreme Court ruling against a 20- year-old practice of sending public school teachers into parochial classrooms to conduct remedial classes. After that ruling, he made a provocative speech to the Knights of Columbus accusing the high court of displaying a "fastidious disdain of religion" and getting the First Amendment all wrong. "Our values as a free people and the central values of the Judeo-Christian tradition are flesh of the flesh, blood of the blood," he said. People for the American Way, a liberal lobby, said he sounded like the secretary of religion. On the other hand. Bennett has distanced himself from Accuracy in Academe, a fledgling conservative group that wants to monitor classroom lectures on the lookout for leftists on campus, and he has defended the right of homosexuals to teach in public schools so long as they do not proselytize. He speaks his mind, civilities be damned, as when television executives gathered at the Library of Congress to trumpet plans for documentaries on illiteracy. Bennett said he would be "remiss in my duty to parents" if he did not point out that television was a cause of the problem. As chairman of the government's National Endowment for the Humanities from 1982-85, Bennett launched a successful series of summer seminars for high school teachers. Critics charged he gave the back of his hand to women's history and black studies. Mary Beth Norton, a Cornell historian, said, "In Bill Bennett's mind, the mission of the humanities is to preserve the history of the past — a Western, white man's past. It is the study of the ideas of great white men who died at least 200 years ago." Leon Botstein, president of Bard College in New York, finds Bennett's "preaching offensive." He complains: "Bennett is getting away with being the white knight for education and he's murdering us." Bennett recently issued a book of common-sense teaching" tips called "What Works." It boils mountains of education research into jargon-free one-liners. Bennett acknowledges that many of these admonitions are obvious: Children learn to read better if their parents read to them, and they fare better in school if they do homework. But, borrowing a line from George Orwell, he says, "Some^ times the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." Some say Bennett's precepts are fine for the white middle- class, but out of touch with the reality of poor, minority children growing up in broken homes. Reagan named Bennett secretary of education in January 1985 and he won Senate confirmation. KimballPianos- $ 1195t., Kramer Elec. Guitars-*! 89tup Tornado Drum Set-*395 I UP ir ENTIRE STOCK REDUCED -i •Will Accept Any Reasonable Offer •Prices May Never Be Lower! SAN JACINTO MALL ONLY 421-1454 111 II III Il> MUSIC CO. 1 gal. 1 gal. 1 gal. 1 gal. 1 gal. 1 gal. with these SUPER SPECIALS gal. Wax Ligustrum 1.99 gal. Water Oak 1.99 Liriope Big Blue 1.99 Varigated Liriope 2.19 Asiatic Jasmine 2.19 Wheeler Dwf. Pittosporum 1.99 Crepe Myrtle 1.99 Slash Pine 1.99 RED TIP PHOTENIA r , 750 5 gal. / Reg. 14.98 CREPE MYRTLE 5 gal 6 5 ° Reg. 12.98 SPECIAL GROUP OF HOMESTEAD TOMATO PLANTS 8* EACH 3" IMPATiENS 39- 4" BEGONIAS 49« HIGH QUALITY ST. AUGUSTINE SOD AVAILABLE RALEIGH ST. AUGUSTINE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST CUT FRESH NUTRI-TURF GARDEN CENTER 421-1817 MON-SAT 85 SUNDAY 12-5 Nutn-Turf, Inc NORTH Or i-i 0 ON GARTH RD. Jim Fonteno has been good for the Bay town Area. As County Commissioner of Precinct 2 for the.past 10 years; Jim Fonteno has never forgotten who he is serving. It is the people of Precinct 2 who elected him and it is the people he serves, not special interest groups, not Big Business, but people like you and me. Jim is a family man. He and his wife, JoAnn, have raised seven children in Precinct 2 and are involved in their community. They really care about their neighbors across the precinct. Jim is responsive to our needs — which is one of the reasons he placed Precinct 2 offices in areas that are convenient to his neighbors. Baytown area residents who want to discuss a problem with him or get information about Precinct 2 and its projects need to go no further than 701 W. Baker Road for it. Jim has also worked well with local city officials on projects that benefit the Baytown area. He is interested in progress. Concerned about the area economy, Jim is working with the Baytown Chamber of Commerce to find ways for economic development. Jim Fonteno has proven, during the past 11 years, that he cares about the people of Precinct 2. Let's keep a good thing going. s Y <"." Remember to vote JRtbeMay3 ic Keep Jim Fonteno County Commissioner, Precinct 2 , \u

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