The article ``Despite Minority Gains, Gap Between the Races Still Looms Large,'' Nov. 21, quotes Donald Jones, an associate professor of law at the University of Miami, who says, ``The classical approach to discrimination just hasn't worked to eliminate the gap between blacks and whites. It has failed to address the pattern of exclusion and what blacks see as oppression.'' How ironic, then, it is to read in the next paragraph that civil rights leaders of the '90s call for ``more affirmative-action efforts.'' When will they see that they're barking up the wrong tree? Affirmative action has not worked and will not work. It is demeaning to blacks and gives more power to those who design and carry out the programs.
The key to success is education and capital. For generations ethnic groups have pulled themselves out of poverty by pooling resources and investing in people. If we spend half the energy on education that we spend on finger-pointing, we can't help but succeed. Andrew Coffey, Roseburg, Ore.
Voices from prison The article ``Bedtime Stories Told All Day Long,'' and the opinion-page column ``A Way Out of Failure,'' Nov. 27, deal realistically with grave problems. One article tells of stories taped and available by phone in various cities, and the other in part advocates the use of black male teachers for young black boys.
Here's a third solution: volunteer readers from local prison populations. If local libraries select appropriate stories, perhaps visiting clergy or other suitable volunteers might help in the recording process from within the prisons.
Prisoners of all races would surely appreciate the chance to communicate in this way with a group they are, of necessity, no longer entitled to help. Perhaps it would inspire them to combat illiteracy among their fellow prisoners. Ardis P. Buser, Frederick, Md.
Women workers in the home Regarding the article ``Rise of Women Jobholders Slows,'' Nov. 23: The caption accompanying the article states that 57 percent of US women work. Doesn't such wording imply that the other 43 percent do not work?
The article to which the caption refers makes it clear that the statistics reflect the number of women wage earners in the formal sector. Nevertheless, the work of women outside the formal labor force is inadvertently devalued by the use of the term ``work.''
Wages and production may be more easily quantified than home economics, but this is no reason to overlook the immeasurable contribution to the welfare of society of those who spend their days maintaining homes and caring for children. The caption is disrespectful toward millions of women and serves to reinforce the biased premise of most labor statistics. Galen R. Martin, Eugene, Ore., University of Oregon