Joan Keefe's excellent article on ``Bilingual education: costly, unproductive'' (Aug. 8) states that last year, $138 million was spent to teach only 182,000 students. Two points should be stressed in connection with that figure:
It represents only the federal dollars spent on bilingual education under the terms of the Bilingual Education Act. Many millions are also spent by Washington for bilingual programs under other names -- Refugee Education, Migrant Education, Title I, and Immigrant Impact Aid.
In addition to federal funding, states are spending large sums on bilingual education. California, for example, spent $65 million of state revenues for bilingual education programs in 1984. Some local governments also contribute money.
Only a small portion of the $138 million appropriated for programs under the federal Bilingual Education Act goes toward the education of children. Much of the money is spent on programs to institutionalize bilingual education, such as conferences, travel to meetings of the National Association for Bilingual Education, support for education departments training bilingual teachers, and so on.
In short, the tax money spent for bilingual education is much higher than Ms. Keefe indicates, and a good chunk of it is diverted from the students for other purposes. Gerda Bikales US English, Washington
The Aug. 5 editorial on the plight of the Friendship Commission was informative and persuasive. Hopefully it will be helpful in convincing Congress that cutting off commission funds at a time of strained relations with Japan is unwarranted and unwise. I hope the editorial comes to the attention of Rep. Joseph Early (D) of Massachusetts, who was presiding during the commission's testimony and markup of the bill in which the commission was denied the right to spend the interest on trust funds. Lindley S. Sloan Japan-US Friendship Commission, Washington
The series [``US Postal Service: The last monopoly,'' July 31-Aug. 2] interested me. I am almost gladdened to find that the last of the personal services of this computerized society can't to be solved by a mechanized device. People can -- for the time being -- still look forward to a friendly hello from someone who serves them directly. Margaret Koehnlein Waukesha, Wis. Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''