A creative boost for minority students

Regarding the Aug. 29 article "Posse potential" on minority support groups at colleges: Thanks for recognizing the significance of this program, and for the quality narrative about the participants who leaped hurdles to get to Bowdoin College.

I recall my master's-in-nursing research paper (1992) on the paucity of minorities in nursing. One of the overwhelming causes of failure to graduate from nursing programs was a lack of a "like" community on campus. The data indicated that education and socialization in a vacuum, on predominately white campuses between freshman and sophomore years, took its toll on minority students.

I am delighted and encouraged by this program and the individuals selected. I found the dormitory living with the campus exposure invaluable in shaping who I am today. My initial MLK scholarship led to a love of learning and helping others.

Bowdoin's administration is to be congratulated for its vision and commitment to increasing access and successful higher-education outcomes for multicultural students.

Rosalene M. Dixon Cambridge, Mass.

Schools need more money for ESL

Your Aug. 23 article "Enrollment boom will test schools" stated that immigration is one of the causes for that boom. In some cities, mass immigration is the major cause of surging student populations.

The cost of educating immigrants can be computed by dividing the total number of students into the total budget, less ESL costs - which apply only to the immigrants. Then multiply the cost per student times the number of immigrant students and add all the ESL costs to see what it costs to educate immigrant children. It can be a shock.

Immigration is the largest unfunded federal mandate and it is out of control. We need a cap of 200,000 immigrants annually from all sources. That number would not produce population growth from immigration.

In the meantime, Congress should appropriate money to reimburse local schools for the cost of educating immigrants.

Thomas P. McKenna Montpelier, Vt.

Don't build on high-fire-risk land

Ed Hunt's Aug. 24 opinion piece, "Realistic living in a tinderbox," stated and expanded upon everything two acquaintances of mine, one a firefighter and the other a former forester, advised regarding problems resulting from "70 years of suppressing small fires," or, nature's normal method of cleaning house and man's interruption thereto. Mr. Hunt advises that those who build where fires would normally go, be alert, and perhaps build elsewhere.

Hunt's article should be printed in every newspaper annually and referred to by all federal land managers over and over again.

Thank you for printing this much-needed article just at the time many wonder as they hear about the great fires that burn forcefully in the West during the normal burn season.

Paula Caracristi Sacramento, Calif.

US should focus on its own drug war

Regarding your Aug. 30 article "Drug war escalates, neighbors wary": If the US government has not been able to curtail the marijuana-growing industry right here in California, how on earth can it expect to have success in a foreign country like Colombia?

And if California marijuana farmers have preferred the economic benefits of growing drugs to making a legal living in the midst of the rich, thriving California economy, how can we expect Colombian peasants with few other opportunities to make a different choice?

The billion dollars we are devoting to stopping the supply of drugs in Colombia is surely doomed to fail. I only hope that it does not cause even more suffering and harm.

Joe Walton Berkeley, Calif.

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