Ratings: a Harder Sell for TV Than for Movies

The front-page article "Who Should Rate TV Shows?" March 13, comparing movie and TV rating systems, misses a crucial difference.

Movies are mainly an entertainment medium. The products being peddled are the movies themselves. TV is primarily an advertising medium.

Television shows are just bait to get viewers to watch commercials.

Advocates of TV ratings must convince not only broadcasters but also all the corporations that buy advertising time. That makes a TV rating system a much harder sell.

Jeff Johnson San Francisco

Improving ghetto schools

Regarding the cartoon "A Reason for Affirmative Action," April 5: To suggest that the failure of ghetto schools is justification for affirmative action misses a much more important point - that the schools that serve our inner cities must be improved.

We should be fixing the problem at its root, not trying to compensate later for the shortcomings of an educational system that by all accounts is failing children, families, communities, and the nation.

Of course, little progress will be made until we are ready to stand up to the bureaucracies and special-interest groups that stand in the way of performance-improving reforms. Every child, in and out of the ghettos, has a right to these reforms.

Wendell Cox Belleville, Ill.

Competition in school harms learning

Regarding the opinion-page article "New Choices in Education Will Drive Broader Reform," March 5: The author asserts that a "market driven" model will better serve all children. I challenge him to provide evidence of this.

It is competition (grades) that has damaged our learning, not unions or regulations.

We have taught our children to work for grades, not learning. Now we propose to make our teachers into salespersons. Alfie Kohn's "No Contest: The Case Against Competition" (1992) and "Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, & Other Bribes" (1995) should be required reading for politicians. There is no evidence that competition enhances learning at the individual or school level.

Ann Stirling Frisch Oshkosh, Wis.

A balanced portrayal of Muslims

While there seems to be a relentless assault on Islam in the American news media, I enjoyed the series of articles on Muslims in the United States during the month of Ramadan (Jan. 22, Jan. 29, Feb. 5, and Feb. 12).

I want to thank the Monitor for its sensitive portrayal of Muslims and for its in-depth examination of the growth of their community in this country. I commend your objectivity and your realistic portrayal of Muslims as members of the larger community.

Ghulam M. Haniff St. Cloud, Minn.

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