Speaking Out for Better Television

In the opinion page article, "Don't Blame TV for Kids These Days," Feb. 11, the author absolves TV programming by focusing on kids raising themselves. While families need quality time together, television is a major contributor to "what kids are" these days.

If it is true that adolescents learn some positive lessons from some shows, then it is equally true that they learn many more negative lessons from others. There are many recommendations to counter these negative effects. Some say parents should view with their children and talk with them about the shows. Another proposal is to integrate critical viewing and media literacy in the school curriculum. Still others believe the V-chip is the answer.

All are valuable suggestions, but none are total solutions. The industry should take responsibility for creating better programming. They should present more family-friendly programs during periods when most children watch. That is what families want and need.

What can the average American do? Speak out - individually, or through organizations. Taking advantage of our democratic rights and expressing our opinions is very different from asking for government censorship.

As we turn on the set each day, we say "yes" by simply accepting what's on. If we truly want change to take place, it will happen when we stand up and express our views.

Mary Beth Ziegenfuss

Catasauqua, Pa.

Immigration and foreign students

The opinion page article, "Come Study in America," Feb. 11, says recent changes to immigration laws will have a "chilling effect" on foreign students who wish to pursue higher education in the United States. We would agree with many arguments as to the benefits of foreigners seeking higher education here. But immigration law changes could hardly be the reason for the decline in the number of foreign scholars, nor should they affect the future of American higher education.

The legislation affects only those who attend public elementary and high schools, and public adult-education programs. Foreign students may no longer attend public elementary or adult education programs, regardless of ability to pay, although they may attend private schools. Public high school candidates must be able to pay a per capita educational cost and are limited to no more than 12 months of school in the F-1 (non-vocational student) visa status. These rules don't apply to those in a J-1 exchange visitor program, nor do they affect dependents of other categories of visa holders, such as temporary workers.

The numbers of visas issued to individuals wanting to study in the US in recent years parallel the dip in foreign student enrollment. This was not a result of immigration policy, but a reflection of the number of foreigners interested in studying in the US who also can afford to do so.

Mary A. Ryan


Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs

Charity makes the grade

I believe my organization is unfairly characterized in the article, "Charity Giving Up, but Donors Wary," Dec. 17.

A chart includes "grades" from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP). We have long disagreed with the group's methodology. AIP gives us a poor rating because it claims that we spend a smaller percentage of revenue on programs than we actually do.

We receive the majority of our revenue through gifts-in-kind (such as food and clothing donations), which AIP fails to recognize. Nonprofits such as mine are seriously misrepresented - and erroneously evaluated.

It is confusing to the reader because your chart correctly shows, from yet another source, that we spend approximately 90 percent of all revenue on our programs.

We must set the record straight on behalf of the dedicated men and women at Feed The Children; the corporations that donate valuable food and clothing; and last but not least, the children who receive our assistance.

Larry Jones


Feed The Children

Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed (200 words maximum) to oped@csps.com

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