In the article "White House Shifts Stance on Yugoslav Republics," July 9, Susan Woodward is quoted saying that in Croatia "the press is now more controlled than it was under communism."In many ways the press in Croatia is freer than in the United States. I just returned from a brief trip to Croatia, after eight years of exile, during which I found that the newspaper stands are replete with literature ranging from anarcho-pornographic to virulent nationalist, representing views that would frequently have a hard time finding their way in puritan and self-censoring America. Tomislav Sunic, Huntingdon, Pa.
Prisons and parenting The article "Women Offenders Right at 'Home July 9, describes the benefits, including a reduced rate of recidivism, for women prisoners who are allowed to spend time in a residential facility where they can be with their young children. I wonder why fathers who are low-security prisoners and have young children are not able to participate in such a program? To encourage such men to be with their children, to take parenting classes, and to participate in some kind of community service would seem to be mor e beneficial for their families and communities than making them sit in overcrowded prisons. B.J. Belknap, Pacific Grove, Calif.
Research pro-phonics Regarding the opinion-page article "The Connection Between Failed Lives and Reading Failure," July 8: We live in a respected and well-funded school district which embraces the "whole language" approach to teaching. But our first grader slid from being a competent beginning reader to being a frustrated non-reader. In our research to discover why this was happening, we found a commonsense answer. Quite a body of research is available on this, once you start to investigate. It has been shown that the illiteracy rate has risen hand-in-hand with the spread of whole language. But despite the widely acknowledged statistics of massive illiteracy, educators staunchly continue to defend their approach to teaching reading and writing. When we gave our child phonetic teaching, she became, again, a competent reader. Danis and Wayne Mutchler, Peterborough, N.H.