January 30, 2011

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Testing, Testing

As a history teacher for more than three decades at Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, I always taught the Constitution as part of my American history courses. But it is very sad to read that there are actually history teachers who are asking that their subject – please! – have its own MCAS standardized exam (Perspective, January 9). Their logic runs something like this: MCAS is the tail that wags the dog; yes, it has strangled and narrowed school curriculums statewide, but unless our subject area gets strangled as well, kids won’t pay attention to it. My advice to my former colleagues is to do what good teachers have always strived to do: Motivate your students by making your course so compelling that they have no choice but to be drawn into it. I am proud that my former school committee recently voted to sign a petition against the social studies MCAS. As I said in my testimony before the state Board of Education, “If you demand to measure everything you value, you will end up valuing only what can be measured.”

Bill Schechter / Brookline

Food for Thought

You missed an opportunity with the excerpt on healthful snacks from The Cleaner Plate Club (Cooking, January 9). As the creator of the For the Love of Food Project, which works to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables, I can tell you that parents do not need more recipes for cookies (even those made with whole-wheat flour). Each cookie in the authors’ recipe carries about 190 calories and less than 2 grams of fiber, making them not much better than the granola bars they correctly disparage. A hungry child could easily eat two or three of them with a glass of 2 percent milk, consuming nearly 700 calories.

Eileen Behan / Rye, New Hampshire

The authors respond: Thank you for your comment and obvious commitment to healthy eating. The chocolate-chunk cookie recipe comes from a chapter in our book that includes both snacks and desserts – realistically, some desserts will always be on our family menus as “sometime foods.” Like the other recipes in that section of the chapter, the cookies offer a natural alternative to processed sweets. They have 62 percent more protein and nearly 40 percent more fiber than Nabisco’s leading brand, and without the partially hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup.

Beth Bader and Ali Benjamin/Coauthors, The Cleaner Plate Club

Book It

Elisabeth Tuite’s article “Check These Out” (January 9) highlighted many of the great programs and services offered by Massachusetts public libraries. Because there is so much happening in libraries that many people do not know about, it would be great if this were a regular feature. Please consider checking out the Wilmington Memorial Library; we have many wonderful events!

Christina A. Stewart, director, Wilmington Memorial Library, Wilmington

I loved reading your article, but you overlooked one of the most active community library programs in the state: Framingham’s. It offers a regular Boy’s Book Club, weekly Baby Lapsit reads, fabulous monthly discounted book sales, as well as films such as the Buster Keaton silent classic The General accompanied live by a pianist. The library is the coolest place in town.

Carol D. Blackwell / Framingham

Stranger Danger

I just read Alison Lobron’s column about seeking a baby sitter (Coupling, January 9). As a mom and nana, I urge you not to have a stranger come into your home to care for your baby! Use a child-care center with lots of staff to look over one another’s shoulders and see how your beautiful son is being cared for.

Katy Welch / Milton

I was very interested in the article on the child-care problems facing working parents, and I have a solution I think would work. I’m a retired senior, and many retirees have raised their own families. They could volunteer at a child-care center, which could be run by a director with a degree in early childhood education. The arrangement would be beneficial to parents, who could pay what they can afford, and to seniors, who would know they were helping to bring up the next generation. This is the meaning of “It takes a village.”

Lee Wynne / Falmouth


Readers responded on to our January 9 article by writer David Abel on his bad experience with thin-soled running shoes.

RedOctober wrote: I do not understand this barefoot running craze. Logic would tell you that, unless you have the perfect body structure and were designed to run, you will need support to prevent injury. I’m sure some people can get away with these “shoes.” However, not everyone is designed to run 30, 50, or 100 miles per week.

Inf wrote: It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that running over rocks, stones, acorns, ruts, bricks, etc. in the equivalent of rubber socks isn’t going to feel nice. The [shoes] might be good for grass, dirt, or packed sand, but running on pavement seems as if it would be painful, if not downright damaging.

BostonsGreat wrote: This is very simple. There are people who have good biomechanics. They can run in racing flats, including minimalist shoes, and probably without any shoes at all. Yet these are the very few. The rest of us probably cannot run without the modern and cushiony shoe.

JustQ wrote: Well, I agree with the headline: “You’re Crazy.” Anyone who experiments with a shoe, experiences pain that drives them to see a doctor, and then runs a half marathon in that footwear is most certainly crazy.

Mp0wer45 wrote: Plenty of runners wearing normal shoes get stress fractures as well, so I don’t really see the correlation here. The bottom line is running itself exerts a lot of stress on one’s body.

Comments: Write to or The Boston Globe Magazine/Letters, PO Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819. Letters are subject to editing.