Encouraging news about college drinking The Christian Science Monitor shone a much-needed spotlight on the consequences of college students' abuse of alcohol in the article "Fuller picture emerges of college drinking" (Sept. 29). The culture of alcohol among undergraduates is the most serious problem confronting our colleges and universities.

There are no simple solutions, but we would like to report evidence that straightforward education of undergraduates about the risks of alcohol misuse, as well as alcohol-free housing, are changing student behavior.

A new research study, carried out by the Center for Advanced Social Research at the University of Missouri-Columbia and underwritten by the National Interfraternity Conference (NIC) and the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), reports alcohol education reduces the amount and frequency of alcohol consumption among male and female members of fraternities.

Also encouraging is the finding that members of "alcohol-sensitive" fraternities and sororities - chapters providing alcohol-free housing and educating their members on the risks of alcohol - report they are more satisfied with their academic experience and more positive about the role their chapters play in encouraging studying.

Alcohol-free housing and alcohol education are positive steps in the battle against the campus culture of alcohol. But the study showed that while we are making progress, the fraternity movement still has a long way to go.

We have made it our goal to restore education, development of leadership qualities, and community involvement as the real mission of our organizations.

Maureen Syring, Muncie, Ind. Bill Jenkins, Oxford, Ohio Co-chairmen, NIC/NPC Research Initiative

Money not an education equalizer The article "Who's responsible for substandard schools?" suggests that variance in educational quality can be solved by equal funding.

The contention that equal funding alone will result in improved educational quality in economically disadvantaged towns is a myth. It serves as a red herring and steers our focus away from what truly needs to be done in order to offer our kids rich educational opportunities.

More money does nothing to narrow the "achievement gap." Just as spending twice as much money on a meal of junk food will not improve one's health, spending even more money on educational fads that are more sizzle than steak will leave the disadvantaged far behind.

If you're truly working toward an end result of narrowing the achievement gap, then you need to look below the surface of money.

Education is a business, a big business whose motive is often times profit, not kids. Fads are sold, promoted, and legislated based on special interests and personal connections, rather than on what works. Meanwhile, the kids pay the price. Nancy Hall, Norwich, Vt.

Teaching is a two-way street In your Oct. 5 interview with Andrew Young ("Turning up the heat on schools"), he gives the tired old excuse that education in many schools isn't good because we need "better teaching." Let's quit bashing the teachers.

Sure, better teaching is desirable. But teaching is a two-way street. A teacher doesn't pour knowledge into a passive receptacle until the child knows everything. The child must make a serious mental effort to learn. Having students with a good attitude toward learning will cause fewer teachers to burn out early and will encourage better teachers to come into the profession. Elisabeth Baxter, Norman, Okla.

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(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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