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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about school segregation, superstition, and the Lisbon Treaty.

June 30, 2008



Let parents choose their children's public schools

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In response to the June 18 article, "Europeans eye US models to ease school segregation": If the Dutch are looking to United States cities such as Seattle as models of official action to achieve school desegregation, they would be well advised to focus elsewhere. Just this month, The Seattle Times published a detailed piece reporting on how that city's public schools have "slowly, steadily resegregated" since mandatory busing began almost three decades ago.

The Urban League chief in Seattle has advocated greater parental choice as a way to increase school diversity without race-based assignments. That's a great idea: Let families be free and come together on the basis of common educational interests. Several studies have shown that schools of choice tend to be more racially integrated than do regular public schools.

Fortunately for the Dutch, they already have a strong tradition of allowing parents a full range of school choice. Maybe they ought to look inward for ways to enhance diversity without government mandates.

Robert Holland
Chicago

Senior fellow for education policy, The Heartland Institute

Not all Chinese believe superstitions

Regarding the June 21 article, "Superstitions fly as China reels from a bad (luck) year": I think the article tends to stereotype Chinese people. I see Chinese people more as different individuals than a stereotypical image of 1.3 billion people who are all superstitious.

There are many different dialects in China and it is almost the size of Europe.

You are talking about a pluralistic China, with different cultures within even the same ethnic group, the Han.

Superstitions, I think, could be related to religious background and age. Most young people, according to my personal experience, do not believe in the things talked about in the article. As for religious background, different places in China have different percentages of the population with different religious backgrounds. For instance, I come from Wenzhou, a coastal city where more than 10 percent of the population is Christian. They are not superstitious about the things mentioned in the article.

Chen Yuerong
Wenzhou, China

Irish referendum a win for nationalism

Regarding your June 17 editorial, "Europe's unfinished house": I say, hoorah for the Irish. Their 800,000 votes against the Lisbon Treaty were hardly a "disappointing moment" in the history of the European Union and its quest for a constitution. Ireland did what every free society should do – permit its citizens to vote.

Meanwhile, the rest of the EU members don't dare put the treaty to a referendum. The last time they did, in 2005, French and Dutch voters shot down the earlier constitution. This time, those nations are circumventing their citizens by ordering their parliaments to do the bidding of Brussels bureaucrats and special interests and approve the treaty.

Like the French and Dutch, the Irish rightly seem wary of a grasping, centralized EU government – with an appointed president and other unelected elite – that can map out trade, labor, immigration, and foreign policy for the entire continent.

So while the powers-that-be blast the tiny Emerald Isle for messing up dreams of ever greater control from Brussels, Ireland should stand firm behind its citizens' wishes.

Katherine Dillin
Arlington, Va.

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