Teachers need preparation for inner-city schools

Paul Hill's thoughtful opinion piece ("Fairer pay for all teachers," Nov. 20) relies on a couple of assumptions which have never been tested: (1) senior teachers are better teachers than new teachers, (2) senior teachers would be more successful than new teachers in poor inner-city schools.

Senior teachers do seek the easier assignments, but there is no reason school boards can't use management's right of assignment to place senior teachers in inner-city schools if the boards think those teachers could succeed. American teachers have all received pretty much the same professional preparation - but typically that preparation does not ready them for poor inner-city schools.

Larry Schlack Kalamazoo, Mich.

Dam building behind closed doors

Your editorial ("Better ways to build dams," Nov. 20) rightly points out that export credit agencies now bankroll most of the world's new large dams - they fund large infrastructure projects in developing countries to the tune of over $50 billion every year.

Unfortunately, the recommendations of the World Commission on Dams for more transparency and public participation in dam building fly directly in the face of the way these secretive agencies operate. It is time export finance agencies were taken to task. These publicly supported banks have only one purpose - to promote the exports of the leading industrialized countries without any concern for social and environmental impact. They are notorious for funding dubious projects that other public and private finance institutions wouldn't touch.

The world can no longer afford the irresponsible lending of these agencies.

Bruce Rich Washington International Program Director Environmental Defense

Andy Griffith: comedy with conscience

It was interesting to read that some churches are using reruns of "The Andy Griffith Show" to reinforce morality in their Bible-study classes ("Church groups ask: What would Andy do?" Nov. 15).

Five years ago, my daughter disconnected her television. However, she still keeps a VCR, and sometimes I tape programs for her family. The top request from my 13-year-old grandson is Andy Griffith. I, too, appreciate the show's gentle goodness - as well as its fine acting and delightful comedy.

Helen Williamson DeWitt, N.Y.

Say it the way you mean it

Your Nov. 8 Homefront column, "The rudeness factor," struck a chord with me.

I observe so often in our shopping center moms and dads negotiating the busy streets with youngsters in hand - seldom at designated crosswalks. Last week when a mother with her infant on one hip and toddler clinging to the other side ventured out next to where I was walking, and I took in the familiar pedestrian crossing about 20 feet further along, I was emboldened to call out to her that she should go up with those precious kids to the crosswalk and use it.

I could have been gentler or more tactful - grandmothers aren't always. What I got in return was a really angry look, a jerk to the toddler as they stepped out and crossed between slow-moving cars to the opposite side. We all learned something - the mother that old people are busy-bodies, the toddler that whatever mom does is OK, the grandmother that the drivers in our village are careful and thoughtful.

Perhaps an Emma Thompson accent would have helped?

Dorothea Morrison Oakland, Calif.

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