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Sounding Off

Here's what our readers are saying.

Doubting the Dialogue

In the September Inside the Law story you attest you are in favor of beginning a "dialogue on these critical issues," i.e., the ones that pertain to whether it is still necessary to use race as a criterion for desegregation. I, however, am doubtful of the sincerity of your statement.

I base my uncertainty on the fact that of the six statements from "leading educators, policy-makers and law experts" on the subject, you present only one that questions the further need to use race as a means to determine which public schools children must attend. Rather than a dialogue being initiated on this matter, it appears to me that you propose that anyone who doubts the necessity for race quotas for public schools be shouted down.

Patrick Groff , professor of education emeritus, San Diego State University

I've been sending the September Inside the Law article link to a number of people. It was thought provoking and very nice to get a number of diff erent voices.

Raymond M. Rose, president, Rose & Smith Associates, Austin, Texas

Fixing NCLB from the Ground Up

I enjoyed your commentary on No Child Left Behind (Speaking Out, August). There is no doubt that the foundation of NCLB is fundamentally flawed.

It is my belief that in public education we are completely focused on the systematization of intervention and remediation. Putting programs and systems in place designed to catch students that are falling behind is becoming the norm.

But if the national objective is to improve the quality of education in this country and raise a generation of students that can compete with their peers around the globe, then we have to move away from this reactive model of education. If we actually look at the scientific evidence, the focus will move away from remediation and intervention and land squarely on early childhood development. If the funds poured into NCLB over the last fi ve years had been spent entirely on early childhood programs, the number of students entering first grade this fall performing below grade level in reading and math would be the lowest since the law's authorization.

Dana W. Koch, director of global services, VHS Inc., Maynard, Mass.

Fostering Good Competition or Worsening the Problem?

Daniel Kinnaman's August column supports giving public funds to the private sector to improve education. I do not believe data exist to support this position.

Kinnaman says, "Entrepreneurial providers need to be able to open and run schools everywhere, and if given the chance, they will." As proof he asks, "Did you ever wonder why big cities have the best hospitals and the greatest variety of good restaurants?" On this point I agree. Th e private sector will serve well the large affl uent markets. It will ignore secondary markets just as private hospitals and good restaurants do.

Our nation already has a badly divided education system with enormous disparities among districts. His plan will only foster and expand that difference.

Colin Armstrong, superintendent, Muskegon (Mich.) Public Schools

Getting the PTA Side

We're writing in response to the "PTA Loses Members to PTOs" story (News Update, August). We thought the story was one-sided and pro-PTO.

You stated that locally both groups have the same goal and function. However, we do not have the same goal. Fundraising is only one aspect of parent involvement for PTA members.

You also stated that the PTA represents a "mere 24 percent of the nation's school/parent groups." However, the PTA is still the largest parent group in the country. The fact that 24 percent of schools have PTAs does not necessarily mean that the other 75 percent are PTOs.

We hope in the future that for your stories-especially those concerning parent involvement you contact all relevant organizations to provide the best coverage to your readership.

James Martinez, media relations specialist, National PTA, Chicago, Ill.

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