Letters to the Editor

Readers address US attorneys firings, teaching techniques, age-friendly workplaces, the record of Britain's finance chief, shipping industry pollution, and electronic fair-use rights.

Questions abound about fired US attorneys

In response to the May 9 article, "It's not just about fired US attorneys anymore": Any political party that is in control wants its own on board to work with. Parties already have enough problems from within. Why should they court additional trouble by appointing people from the other side to important positions?

Ben Barr
North Wilkesboro, N.C.

In response to the article from May 9 about the broader implications of US attorney firings: The article correctly observes that "lawmakers continue to pursue that vexing question: Why were those US attorneys fired?"

Perhaps the more vexing question is: What actions did the other 80-plus US attorneys take – or fail to take – that allowed them to keep or earn the sobriquet, "loyal Bushie," and thus remain in their positions?

What cases did the remaining US attorneys investigate and prosecute and what cases might have slipped to the bottom of the in-box to curry favor with the Bush administration?

Matt Meyer
Marlborough, N.H.

Students want to learn, not memorize

Regarding the May 9 article, "Educators, politicians, and MTV take aim at US dropout 'epidemic": When school means 180 days of memorizing trivia for a test, should we wonder why kids drop out?

Regurgitating factoids puts kids' minds in a passive mode. Yet teachers who engage students and expect them to think rarely survive. What I taught to seventh-graders in the late '70s would be beyond all but what Advanced Placement students learn today.

My students had no multiple-choice questions, only essays and 500-word persuasive papers every three weeks. I graded on whether they had proved their contentions.

The standard topic was for them to find something that wasn't going well in the world and fix it. In their own minds, they proved to themselves over and over that they had a handle on the world.

This gave them a sense of personal power and a clear feeling that they could succeed. They thought proactively and looked for challenges.

In my 30 years of teaching, I've watched "educrats" confound the system with top-down memorization systems. Retirement came when I finally realized that these educrats were not my friends.

What happened to me and still happens to teachers like me is why more parents are forming private schools and home-schooling.

Chuck Moody
Grangeville, Ind.

More than one type of age bias

The May 7 article, " 'Age friendly' workplaces on the rise," was very informative. It contained a lot of good information that employers need to know.

I think an even more interesting article would cover issues that 40-somethings face. It seems that we tend to be forgotten.

Although I am employed, I would love to springboard to a more challenging position. I am a Web designer/flash developer.

Most of what I am finding in my job search is ads for jobs that require just a few years of experience.

Jack Koning
Indianapolis

The May 7 article, " 'Age friendly' workplaces on the rise," seems to mention most the type of companies and hourly work that I would have done as a young person. I am a senior research scientist. Some of the companies mentioned seem to think that a workers above age 50 should change from being experts in what they do to doing jobs that require much less skill and little experience.

My mind will continue to be sharp for years, and my experience and knowledge will not be lost when I leave my company. It will take some young person 20 years to accumulate the same.

Terri Endicott
Washington

The impressive record of Britain's finance chief

Gerard DeGroot's May 9 Opinion piece, "The Tony Blair decade," refers to Gordon Brown, Britain's chancellor of the exchequer, as a "mystery man." Anyone who has served as Britain's minister of finance for a decade can hardly be called a mystery man. Mr. Brown's management has restored confidence in British business and secured the UK's current position as one of the strongest economies within the European Union.

Brown, who is expected to succeed Tony Blair as prime minister, is a serious political thinker with a close link to grass-roots Labour Party supporters. Brown's contest with Conservative leader David Cameron will define Britain's political future. With a UK election at least two years away, Brown has an opportunity to reinvigorate the Labour Party and enhance their prospects of winning that election.

Alistair Budd
Geneva

Fight for electronic rights on Digg

Regarding the May 4 article, "Digg's online crowd flexes its muscle": Thank you for this article! We all should demand our electronic rights of fair use and not only our "physical" rights like the right to bear arms. Bravo!

Bradley Pascone
Renton, Wash.

Cut ships' fumes first

The April 2 article, "For cleaner US ports, cut truck fumes first?" was correct that trucks need to cut fumes. But the bigger picture seemed overlooked. The ocean shipping industry burns the dirtiest fuel in the world. It is a byproduct mixture of all the oil and grease left over after higher-grade fuels are made, with a little bit of diesel added. Once these ships dock at any port, their motors never stop running. Yes, the trucking industry needs to cut fumes. But the shipping industry is just as guilty (if not more so) at our US ports.

Richard Cook
Houston

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Op-Ed.

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