Home-schooling Crosses Political, Religious Spectrum

As a parent who sent three home-schooled boys to Harvard University, who has lectured and written about home-schooling, and who is a 12-year member of a county board of education, I was sorry to find that the otherwise informative article ''Learning at Home,'' Feb. 26, perpetuates a widely circulated myth about home-schooling. The author, who admits there are no formal statistics about the demographics of home-schooling, nevertheless says ''80 percent of the parents who educate their own young are fundamentalist, born-again Christians with big families.''

Increasingly, single parents, parents of color, and families with all manner of politics and from all socioeconomic levels are becoming home-schoolers, and so-called ''secular'' home-schoolers are responsible for the largest part of the growing movement. According to some recent estimates, upward of 40 percent of home-schoolers are teaching their children at home for reasons other than religion, and only a minority are ''fundamentalist, born-again Christians with big families.'' Although there are obvious reasons why the religious right and, yes, the educational establishment, persist in their efforts to encapsulate and marginalize home-schooling, it is the most dynamic, inclusive, and effective educational movement to emerge in this country in decades. It would do well for a nation properly concerned with the state of American education to seriously attend to the lessons it offers.

J. David Colfax Boonville, Calif.

Label genetically altered food

The article ''Genetically Altered Tomatoes - Not Rotting at Grocery Shelves,'' March 1, notes that consumers may soon see more genetically engineered food products, including squash and potatoes, but it fails to note that consumers will not know that they are buying these products.

Under a policy of ''regulatory relief'' to the biotechnology industry, the Food and Drug Administration requires labeling of foods derived from genetically engineered crop plants only under exceptional circumstances.

Without stricter labeling requirements from the FDA, shoppers with special dietary restrictions will have no way of knowing what's in the genetically engineered foods they're buying. Surely the agency can aid consumers in making informed choices.

Rebecca Goldburg New York

Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund

Concealed-weapons debate

Regarding the editorial ''Guns and Safety,'' March 1: The Monitor should wait and see what the courts say about the incident regarding the concealed-weapon permit holder in Texas before attacking concealed-weapon legislation. There has been little abuse of these permits in any of the states connected with this program.

The move to allow concealed-weapon permits is not a frontal attack by the NRA on an unsuspecting public. People are tired of empty promises when it comes to personal safety.

Statistics show that in a violent encounter, an armed individual has a greater chance of escaping injury or death than an unarmed individual.

Concealed-weapons classes generally stress that using a firearm is not ''frontline'' defense; common sense and alertness are crucial.

A gun may not be a guarantee of safety, but it is a practical and effective means of personal protection.

Emmett V.E. Reed Tucson, Ariz.

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