When in Estonia, Speak as the Estonians Do

The article ``Russians in Estonia Struggle to Learn Difficult Language,'' July 7, states, ``noncitizens ... are required to pass a standard Estonian proficiency test to obtain residency permits,'' and that ``those who fail to meet the requirements face deportation.'' It is inaccurate not to have mentioned that under the Estonian Law on Aliens of 1993, no one will be deported from Estonia for not knowing the language.

A minimal language requirement (about 1,500 words) exists for obtaining Estonian citizenship, but all civilians who are in Estonia based on ``legal'' residency under Soviet rule can register for residency permits. Residency, as opposed to citizenship, means one cannot vote or serve in the military.

The article quotes Russian president Boris Yeltsin, who says that Estonia's language-related citizenship is a form of ethnic cleansing. The city of Narva is mentioned, where 95 percent of the population is Russian speaking. Until the Soviet occupation in 1945, Narva, like the rest of Estonia, was almost completely Estonian-speaking. The present inhabitants of Narva are there as a result of an illegal displacement of the population that began 50 years ago. Epp Kuhn, Princeton, N.J.

When in Estonia, Speak as the Estonians Do

The article contains several items that need to be clarified. The author states that all immigrants must pass a standard Estonian language proficiency test to obtain a residency permit or citizenship, and that those who fail to meet the requirements face deportation. Only those aliens who desire to become citizens must pass the language requirement. Those desiring permanent alien status must register as such, which is a common practice in the United States. Only those who do not desire to become citizens and do not apply to become permanent residents may face deportation, a practice similar to laws in the US and other countries.

Actually, Estonian citizenship law is not as strict as US law. The wait is two years before an application for citizenship may be submitted, while in the US it is five years. Both countries require sufficient knowledge of the language to conduct daily business. Mati Koiva, Severna Park, Md.

How many Rs in education?

The article ``Programs Target Student Violence,'' July 18, rightly raises the issue of whether building mediation and other skills takes valuable time away from education's academic mission.

If, as the director of an agency that organizes mediation programs opines, conflict resolution is the fourth ``R,'' is health education the fifth, driver education the sixth, citizenship the seventh, household economics the eighth, computer skills the ninth, multicultural exposure the 10th, etc?

Fragmentation of public education by this proliferation of ``Rs'' degrades the educational process in several ways: Each curriculum module must assume a lowest common denominator of prior knowledge, resulting in inefficient duplication of effort; students do not understand, learn, and remember as well when material is presented in isolated chunks as when it is incorporated into larger fields of knowledge.

Students come to think of knowledge as divided into many unrelated subjects and never learn to make the connections across artificial academic boundaries necessary for creative thought. The new ``Rs'' should be integrated with the old, not presented as separate modules like those described in the article. Eric Klieber, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

The definition of American

The article ``Mere Threat of Haiti Invasion May be Enough'' Aug. 2 refers to the safety of 3,000 ``Americans'' still living in Haiti. But aren't there really more than 6 million Americans living in Haiti - and 3,000 United States citizens? Chris Lowenberg, Lansdale, Pa.

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