To the Editor:
As a former prize-winning student of Frank McCourt’s, I greeted Joel Klein’s announcement of the Frank McCourt High School with much skepticism and disbelief. I strongly doubt that such a school can produce first-rate journalists. Instead, I think those interested in journalism should seek mastery first of some subject, whether it is fine art, history or science, for example, before trying to write eloquently about it.
In recent books, like Chris Mooney and Sheril Kirshenbaum’s Unscientific America: How Science Illiteracy Threatens our Future, and my friend Ken Miller’s Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul, there is ample evidence that journalism has failed to improve the abysmal state of American scientific literacy. Were I to advise an 8th-grader thinking potentially of a career in science journalism, I would recommend instead schools like my alma mater Stuyvesant High School or Townsend Harris High School, as those are far more likely to give this student both the requisite knowledge and tools to become a successful journalist.
While McCourt’s legacy as both a celebrated teacher and a distinguished writer should be honored, there are other far more notable means to commemorate and to celebrate his legacy.
The writer was a panelist at a recent NYU memorial tribute held in honor of McCourt.
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