More recess will help avoid more Ritalin

I was really shocked to read your Oct. 6 story about hyperactive children ("Among parents, backlash builds to Ritalin").

School authorities should insist on an active physical education system, one that ensures that everybody gets a good workout at least twice a day (as many private schools do). This should be based upon individual ability (for example, A, B, and C teams).

After failing our children (mostly overactive boys) by not giving them enough exercise, authorities let them sit quietly and listen in stupefying silence. That is child abuse.

Hugh Jenney Stella, Ontario

As a veteran classroom teacher in a public middle school in Orlando, Fla., I have witnessed many success stories of students for whom Ritalin was a tremendous aid. Please report both sides of the story.

I have observed dozens of students who have experienced a dramatic increase in academic performance, a boost in self-esteem, an increase of acceptance by their peers, and the restoration to normalcy of family life after receiving medical treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

I agree "people need to stand back from the issue and let reason and factual understanding ... prevail." One way to do that is to observe the disruption to the classroom of the behavior of a medically untreated student with ADHD.

Katherine Szerdy Orlando, Fla.

Meet the real needs of veterans

As a combat veteran of World War II, I am opposed to another memorial in stone to war veterans (Oct. 6 editorial, "Civic sermons in stone"). It's time to address the real needs of veterans, which are better and expanded healthcare.

I'm one of those few and fortunate veterans who are amply compensated in money and healthcare for my service and sacrifice. Now it's time to expand that degree of concern to the millions of veterans who are not getting it.

James E. Turner Mantua, Ohio

Voters are cynical

Television is the most powerful medium for influencing the public. As your columnist Godfrey Sperling pointed out ("Debates that count," Oct. 3), John F. Kennedy owed his presidential victory to TV exposure in his debate with Nixon.

The airwaves, which legally belong to the public, are controlled by corporations.

Advertisers have the right of "free speech" to influence the buying habits of TV viewers, but third-party presidential candidates are barred from debating on TV.

Gee, I wonder why so many people are cynical and apathetic about voting.

Ariel Master Lorane, Ore.

A faithful steward

I commend you on your Sept. 20 article about Mike Dombeck, chief of the US Forest Service ("An unlikely revolutionary puts trees first"). It is refreshing to read an in-depth article concerning the work of a dedicated steward of the environment.

Your headline suggests that Mr. Dombeck puts trees first. I would suggest that his philosophy, which endeavors to protect all parts of the environment including forests, watersheds, wildlife habitat, streams, and rivers, also encompasses a concern for the future of humans.

Our survival and quality of life is inextricably tied to the health of the earth. My thanks go to the many people such as Mr. Dombeck who work in the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and other agencies for their untiring work in keeping our environment healthy.

Carolyn W. Gahr Vancouver Island, British Columbia

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