Big polluters shouldn't pass the buck When I read your Sept. 23 article " 'Buying' oxygen is polluted countries' latest remedy," the first word that came to mind was "goofy," followed quickly by "ridiculous." How can the Canadian government - or, for that matter, any industrial nation - really think passing the buck for air pollution is going to solve the problem?

While I agree that reforestation is necessary and will help clean the air, the concept of paying some other country to do it defeats the whole point. Honduras doesn't pollute the air. We, the major powers, do. This program is no more than a temporaray measure; it doesn't represent what we truly need - a change of attitude.

Right now, we believe our wealth can buy us out of this problem. We act as if what we do to the world will not affect us.

It's time for the industrialized nations to wake up and start acting like world leaders. While many corporations make it politically difficult to make the serious changes we need, it's those nations' responsibility to make them anyway. Those changes don't involve planting more trees. They involve radically reforming how we do business and how we treat the living world we are part of. Gus Steeves, Tempe, Ariz.

Parents key to school success There seems to be this big misconception in America that all schools are inadequate because of poor test scores, but I beg to differ with that point of view ("How to use school tests," Sept. 21). The public school system is in a tailspin because no one is willing to take a stand on what is right for our kids.

How can a teacher or even a school be held accountable for teaching a child to pass a standardized test when they can't enforce rules and regulations that have been established to help control their classroom? Come test time, the teachers have not adequately prepared their students because they spend 40 percent or more of their time dealing with discipline problems.

We must trust and empower the teachers and principals to do their jobs without fear of reprisal. The public school system is experiencing a catastrophic breakdown because of a lack of confidence in educators.

Unless a child is motivated by their parents to do well in school or has aspirations of being somebody, chances are that child won't do well in class or on a test. I think the burden falls on the parents to ensure homework is being done, and insist on getting monthly progress reports.

Teachers are trained in the art of imparting knowledge, not being discplinarians; that responsibility belongs to the parent. Gerald Shealey, Hampton, Va.

'Lifestyle' drugs overpriced Regarding "Rise of 'lifestyle' drugs straining health costs" (Sept. 13): Your article seemed to contribute to the dissemination of pharmacy industry propaganda, namely, that it "typically" costs "$500 million to develop a new drug." The method used to calculate this figure has long been called into question. That $500 million figure includes hypotheticals such as how much pharmacy companies might have made had they invested in the market rather than develop new drugs. This seems disingenuous. John K. Hayden, Weatherford, Okla. Department of Social Sciences Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Schorr on target May I offer a thousand "thank yous" to Daniel Schorr for his column, "Jumping the gun on the millennium," (Sept. 24) and for the uncommon good sense shown therein. Make that 2,000; no, make that 2,001 "thank yous." Jeff Lange, Cleveland, Ohio

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