I received the following response to my letter to the editor. The writer accurately states my original position:World language better investment than war
To the editor:
Neal Phenes wrote in a letter to the editor (The Packet, June 27) that the West-Windsor Plainsboro Board of Education should not add Hindi to the curriculum because it would raise costs. He said the need for such an addition "must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt" and that "core subjects already being taught must be the focus of our schools."
My family, friends and neighbors in Plainsboro disagree. My family includes members fluent in English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Fujienese and Hindi. A primary reason for living in Plainsboro is the commitment by both the schools and the library to promote cultural and linguistic competency in Plainsboro's children, adolescents and adults through various programs and educational opportunities, including the world languages curriculum. A better method of determining curriculum is what benefits the educational future of our children and adolescents. The educational research is clear that languages are best learned at young ages. There is no evidence that WW-P will need to take away any course offerings to add Hindi and current staff may be able to teach courses without additional funding.
With the United States plunged into yet another costly and ill-conceived set of wars abroad, maybe the wisest use of our local, state and national tax dollars is to increase teaching multiple world languages for the next generation, an important route to understand and appreciate world cultures. If the U.S. focused more on funding learning about and appreciating cultural and linguistic difference rather than funding war-making, we as a nation would be more cost-effective in both tax dollars saved and body bags unused.
Stuart Chen-HayesHere is my response:
To the editor:
I want to thank Mr. Chen-Davis for his response to my criticism of the proposal to add Hindi to the WW-P curriculum.
I now realize that adding this language to the curriculum will add no costs even though there will have to be new instructors, a classroom and time for this new subject. And even if it did add some costs, since so many of my fellow citizens want this addition to the languages curriculum, how can I possibly object? How could I even consider the cost of anything to be an issue when it involves education or the desires of Mr. Chen-Davis’ friends, family and neighbors?
I just thought I was offering a concept where new costs had to be justified during this economic crisis faced by many residents of Plainsboro. But Mr. Chen-Davis’ last point is most persuasive. He expresses that there is a link of some sort between adding this course to our schools and world peace. I had forgotten the curative powers of Hindi upon Islamic Fascism. If we could only pipe Hindi into Osama Bin Laden’s cave, we may see the kind of magical harmony it has created between the Muslim’s of Pakistan and the Hindus of India.
The Princeton Packet refused to print my response. Here are the e-mails:
From: Rick Sinding
Sent: Monday, July 03, 2006 11:54 AMTo: Neal Phenes
Subject: RE: Hindi For Free With World Peace To Boot
Dear Mr. Phenes:
Packet policy limits letter writers to one letter published per 30 days. We occasionally make an exception to this policy, allowing a writer to offer a substantive rebuttal to a response occasioned by his or her initial letter. In this case, however, the response appears to be more sarcastic than substantive -- and does not, in our judgment, add to the constructive dialogue on this issue.
I understand and respect your policy. I just thought that equating my cost containment argument with some sort of support for the war in Iraq deserved a like response. I guess Chen-Davis’ point was serious, logical and relevant.