Letters

By , Richard Berkun, Charles H. Terrey, and Jonathan Katz

School sex harassment: Clear rules needed Regarding "When kids harass kids at school" (Jan. 13): Your article states that legal experts suggest teachers can forestall student sexual harassment complaints by taking such steps as changing the harassing student's seat assignment or "confronting the harasser." It's true that a teacher can be the first line of defense in these situations, but in order for his efforts to be effective, today's teacher must have the active support of the school's administration.

School bureaucracies must stop paying mere lip service to the ideal of safe schools and start actively supporting programs and policies in an effort to maintain orderly environments where the rights of all are recognized.

Meaningful criteria for appropriate school conduct, with real consequences for anyone who fails to respect the rights of others, must be established and consistently maintained by school districts, not by teachers on a case-by-case basis.

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The courts should set guidelines for the identification of what can reasonably be described as kids' stuff, and distinguish it from conduct that seriously infringes upon the rights of others. Rochelle M. Sirota New York, N.Y.

No substitution for minimum wage Regarding the opinion essay, "Pushing wages up pushes low-skill workers out" (Jan. 25), the author uses time-worn excuses for not raising the minimum wage. I am not aware of any business that folded because of a raise in the minimum wage.

The arguments about poor literacy skills and the applicants' inability to fill out employment forms are meaningless. There are people like that in many well-paying jobs with benefits. The difference is that they may be backed by a union or a more benevolent employer. In this case, the government is protecting these people.

The minimum wage is about human dignity and should be set so that a person working 40 hours a week can support her or his family above the poverty level. At the current rate, many are better off collecting welfare.

Richard Berkun Albany, N.Y.

Hydrogen fuel could reduce warming Regarding "Scientists call for action on global warming" (Jan. 29): It is a common misconception that the United States must cut energy use by 30 percent over the next 12 years in order to meet the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. This is because energy use is equated with the burning of carbon fossil fuels.

The real objective is to cut the production of global warming gases by 30 percent or more.

The secret to meeting the Kyoto Protocol is to replace carbon fuels with hydrogen fuel. The transition to hydrogen fuel produced from solar energy and abundant resources will provide a sustainable economy for the future.

Opportunities abound. Let's get to work. Charles H. Terrey Phoenix, Ariz.

May the force (of fans) be with you I'm sure you've been informed of this a million times by fans much more rabid than I, but your facts aren't straight about Episode One ("Keenly awaited 'Star Wars' heads 1999 movie lineup," Jan. 29).

First of all, Luke isn't a preteen in this one. In fact, at the time this takes place, his father (the future Darth Vader) is only 8.

Also, I'm assuming the "Empire guards" you refer to are "Stormtroopers" or "Imperial Troopers." I don't know what an "Empire Guard" is supposed to be, frankly.

Finally, Yoda will hardly be a "rising star" in this one. He is certainly very well established by the time Episode One takes place. Jonathan Katz Evanston, Ill.

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