Students who work

The opinion-page column ``Students who push burgers,'' Nov. 22, probes an often ignored part of the education picture in the United States. Unfortunately, it misses the mark. While some students may work for superfluous luxuries, many students do in fact work to finance their education.

By making the issue the working students themselves instead of addressing the ever-escalating price of education that forces students to work, the column reinforces a rather elitist posture.

Until the United States addresses the escaping availability of higher education and the resulting class and social stratification, it may indeed continue to slip in global competition. Education is the best defense. Seth Tyler, Somerville, Mass.

Many of my students work long hours, but they do so to meet rent payments and food bills as well as the cost of tuition and books. With the decreased availability of student aid and the strain on two-income families to contribute to yearly tuition increases, many college students find that working 20 or 30 hours a week at minimum wage is the only way to stay in school.

True, many students are not studying because of work; but they work because they must. Will the next ``education president'' step out from behind the smoke screen of student aid cheats and direct his attention to the fact that parents and students face an almost insurmountable burden? Gregory Britton, Madison, Wis. Teaching assistant, University of Wisconsin

Students who are frivolously spending the money granted to them by Uncle Sam are the ones deserving criticism, rather than those who are employed. Those who are working are at least earning their spending money themselves. Many academic institutions value employment as educational, and many future employers of today's students recognize the ability to balance studies and employment as an achievement. Many colleges and universities have departments designed to help students secure part-time work in their prospective fields.

Placing blame with students for the poor educational standards of the US is a cop-out. Blaming student employment for poor academic performance ignores the real problems facing education today. Stefanie Johnson, Ellensburg, Wash.

I have to agree that it is nearly impossible for a student to maintain a course load and a workload. After paying for tuition and books, however, a roof over the student's head and beans on his table become a luxury.

There is financial aid, but not enough. If you can complete a financial aid application, you don't need a college education. You could probably be granted a public accountancy certification.

I tried to make ends meet and carry a course load for a few semesters of college, until I was emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. When I dropped out, it was in the hope that if I worked a year I'd have enough saved to go back to school without having to work as many hours.

It's been 12 years now, and I haven't gone back to school. I don't own a car or television, haven't been to a movie in five years. Things aren't quite so bad, though. I'm comforted by the knowledge that education doesn't begin or end in academic institutions. Edward Watters, Lewiston, Idaho

Art censorship Regarding the article ``Children's art travels the world through `paintbrush diplomacy,''' Nov. 29: As an illustrator of children's books I applaud Char and Rudy Pribuss's efforts to promote greater understanding between cultures through the exchanging of children's art. But I cannot condone their methods of dealing with censorship.

Char Pribuss relates two examples of altering the works of the children to make them ``inoffensive' to US officials in the conservative Muslim state of Saudi Arabia.

On one of the pieces she painted a more modest dress over a thin-strapped prom gown, on another drawing she erased and then lengthened a short skirt.

If the Pribusses' motive is cross-cultural exchange with the goal of world peace, then this exchange should be truthful, and the art should be shown as the artist intended it.

It is never acceptable to alter another's artwork, for any purpose. Helen K. Davie, Sebastopol, Calif.

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