Challenging teachers unions

Your reporter did a fine job in "Volunteer teacher takes on the unions" (Dec. 21), regarding National Education Association union officials' guerrilla war against an excellent and well-respected volunteer teacher who has the temerity to try to teach in a public high school in Vermont without the union's permission.

NEA officials' oft-heard cry for lower student-teacher ratios is evidently a minor concern compared to keeping out teachers who don't pay union dues. And the union bosses' rationalization that Mr. Corrow's school-board membership disqualifies him from teaching rings hollow.

As a school volunteer, Mr. Corrow has no detectable conflict of interest. On the other hand, NEA officials who spend millions of dollars in teachers' compulsory dues to remake school boards around the country have a plain conflict.

Thank you for providing your readers with a perfect illustration of how little the NEA hierarchy cares for the opinions and interests of students, taxpayers, and conscientious teachers.

Stan Greer Springfield, Va. National Right to Work Committee

Tibetan culture lives on

Thank you for "Tibetan music sings out amid the mishmash" (Dec. 31).

As the president of the Kham Aid Foundation, a US nonprofit working to preserve Tibetan culture in its homeland, I am often dismayed by the prevailing public perception that Tibet has lost its culture beyond hope of redemption.

The Cultural Revolution was indeed devastating to Tibetan literature, music, art, and (especially) religious traditions. But my own work to preserve Tibetan Buddhist mural art and to train Tibetans as art conservators has been impeded not by the Chinese government, but instead by a much more prosaic difficulty: lack of funds. I hope that greater publicity to Tibet's struggling and nascent cultural revival will bring the international support that Tibetans deserve.

Pam Logan Los Angeles, Calif.

Are our doors open too wide?

I wish the author of the opinion article "Widen the door for skilled immigrants" (Jan. 10) had suggested in his article that we cut back on the total number of immigrants we bring into the United States and specified that those we bring in should be more skilled and better educated.

At our current immigration rate of 1 million per year, we are headed toward a population of nearly 400 million in 2050. This rapid growth keeps pace with the growth of developing nations, pressures the environment, and tips the scales of consumption more and more in our nation's direction.

Less consumption is what the world requires, but this continued growth makes the nation and cities in which we live more crowded and less comfortable.

Marvin Gregory Renton, Wash.

Keeping perspective on terrorism

In the Jan. 5 editorial "Dancing around terrorists," you conclude that "the world must act to thwart radicals, especially Islamists, who use violence against the innocent." While we all must condemn violence against the innocent, I wonder why you single out Islamists. Your implication may be that Islamists carry out a disproportionate number of attacks on the innocent, but this is not the case. According to the US Department of State statistics on terrorism, the total anti-US attacks by region: Africa 3, Europe 3, Western Europe 13, Middle East 5, and Latin America 87.

Given these statistics, it might be worth examining why your editorial selected Islamists for special attention.

Nancy Gallagher Newbury Park, Calif.

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