Andrew White provides a strong case for expanding early childhood education in his Nov. 7 Opinion piece, "States should invest in preschool." My experience confirms his position. For a number of years, I worked at the New York State Education Department, where I coordinated a longitudinal evaluation of the Experimental Prekindergarten Program. Upon completion of the study, the New York State Board of Regents responded to our positive findings by doubling the budget for the program.
Now in North Carolina, I am working with both Smart Start, the early childhood program begun by former governor Jim Hunt, and More at Four, the preschool program started by our present governor, Mike Easley.
In both states, I have had a front row seat to see the great benefits early education has for children. Children are better prepared to succeed in school. They are less likely to need special services or to be retained in grade. These benefits provide financial rewards to schools. But the rewards to the children, though sometimes less tangible, are even greater.
David J. Irvine
With the utmost respect, I am compelled to point out the incorrect use of "Cajun country" in the Nov. 9 article, "Louisiana's swamped economy." New Orleans has many unique qualities, but having a true Cajun history and culture is not one of them. It is a place molded by old-world French and Spanish aristocracy, though many other influences have been tossed into the gumbo pot of culture that exists there.
The authentic Cajun country exists in Acadiana, a region of 22 parishes to the west of New Orleans. This is where the Cajuns migrated after being expelled from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755. The Cajuns' story is fascinating, and it is markedly different from the story of New Orleans.
As a proud resident of Lafayette, La. - the heart of Cajun country - I hope that people will further research this unique part of America.
Regarding the Nov. 10 article, "California goes back to square one": I was a poll worker here in California on Nov. 8. I heard time and again, and saw in their faces, that voters didn't like dealing with problems by way of the most expensive election in state history.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's propositions went down in defeat, but so did some propositions from liberals and progressives. The people's message is not as much ideological as it is a message that they don't want to use expensive special elections to solve problems.
Loren Meissner Jr.
San Jose, Calif.
In response to the Nov. 9 article, "For unpaid interns, a financial lift": Unpaid internships are exploitative and discriminatory against students of lower incomes. Stipends offered by elite colleges help only a few privileged students take advantage of unpaid internships. Elite and other institutions would serve a much broader class of students if they pooled their resources toward eliminating unpaid internships.
Interns add value to any organization that crafts a legitimate internship. That value far exceeds the meager wage that would make internships affordable for all students.
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