Finding an All-Inclusive School Choice Plan

Regarding the editorial "Chelsea's Choice of School," Jan. 8: I am disturbed by the final two sentences. The editorial states that President Bush's broad-based choice plan would "siphon public money into private and parochial institutions" and "would undercut public education."

You seem to forget that such an all-inclusive choice plan is actually putting a free-enterprise type of competition into effect. Such competition can go from one extreme to another. You assume that the outcome would be in favor of private and parochial education.

It is possible, however, that public education in some places could become so effective that many students attending private schools or being taught at home would rather opt to attend public school. If we are to experience the full dynamic, catalytic influence on education reform that is expected from a choice plan, the more far-reaching and broad-based type is more likely to provide this much-needed impetus. Public schools will suffer only if it is allowed to happen. Eugene Henderson, Lacey, Washington Character education

Regarding the front-page article " `Character Education' May Become Need of 90s," Jan. 14: People expect schools to make up for their own failings as parents. It is not the job of the schools to do this, nor could they if they tried. What effect can courses in ethics have when students return home and see their parents cheating on taxes or on each other, lying to business associates, and flouting laws?

How successful can formal ethics education be when kids, ignored by their parents, turn to TV or the streets, where they see mainly examples of unethical behavior. Maybe what is needed in schools are not courses on ethics, but rather courses on parenting. Jeff Johnson, San Francisco The `look like America' Cabinet

Hooray for the editorial "Trial by Diversity," Dec. 28. It's hard to fathom the bludgeoning Bill Clinton has taken for fulfilling his campaign promise to make his Cabinet "look like America."

The editorial puts it so well - "There is every reason to believe that Mr. Clinton ranks well above average among politicians in recognizing gifted women, blacks, Hispanics - gifted people." A leader who recognizes dedication, excellence, and giftedness in others inspires them to do their best. We're all winners because of it. Sally Phipps O'Hara, Evanston, Ill. Rationing health care in the US

The rationing of health care is the only way to significantly reduce health-care costs in the United States. President Clinton knows this but will never admit it publicly, as it would be political suicide. In the US health-care system, we try to do everything for everyone every time. If, as in other countries, we stopped performing the very expensive, ineffective, and unnecessary procedures, medical costs would be greatly reduced.

The best way to cause a dramatic reduction in costs through covert rationing is simply to put the health providers on lower salaries.

The German system, so favored by Mr. Clinton, has affected rationing by putting their government-employed physicians on a $40,000 per year salary.

These German doctors are kept in line by the creation of an artificial over-supply - 20 percent of them are unemployed. Those doctors who do work keep regular hours.

Do this in the US, and most doctors will retire or leave the profession. Therefore, the cost of medical care will be greatly reduced since the amount of medical care will be greatly reduced. Richard C. Carson, Laurel, Md.

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