Homework helps make sure class lessons stick

I read the Jan. 24 opinion pieces "Homework: the down side and the hard-fought joys" by James Barron and Andrea Marcusa with much interest and pleasure. I was particularly pleased to see someone sticking up for homework. Mr. Barron seems to miss the point. As an educator in a public school, I feel a need to raise a few issues which may help the cause of homework.

First of all, in response to Mr. Barron's new school policy, how can anything be achieved in half an hour when a student has five or more subjects? Most 10-year-olds I know take that long to get settled down and actually begin the task at hand.

Second, and more important, is the issue of why homework is given at all. There is so much more to teach in the modern world than the "basic R's" in a situation where the students are more numerous and more demanding, that there simply is not enough time in the day to get it all done. As Ms. Marcusa points out, homework serves to show parents what their students are working on and reassures the teacher that the day's lesson made it past the school door.

I also object to Barron's comments on free time. To me, one of the biggest problems is that children are so programmed by their parents that they have no free time. Between soccer practice, dance lessons, piano lessons, and scheduled play dates, children often do not arrive home until supper and then have to do their homework. I would suggest that if children were allowed more of their own time to relax immediately after school, and also allowed to follow their own pursuits, they would be less tired and more able to complete their homework in a timely fashion at a decent hour.

Chrisso Rheault Camden, Maine

Bob Jones U. and Al Sharpton's church

Regarding John C. Green's Jan. 23 opinion piece "Bush's religious-right challenge": President George Bush's past visit to Bob Jones University was mentioned. This is a subject that liberals in general seem to frequently carp on. Mr. Green goes on to state that the visit "offended many Americans." In the interest of balance, readers should be aware that many Americans were offended by the visits of Democrat politicians to Al Sharpton's church in Harlem, New York, where antiwhite bigotry is frequently on display. Recall that candidates Hillary Clinton and Al Gore went to Harlem to pay homage to Mr. Sharpton at his church.

Neglecting the question of separation of church and state, the simpler question is: Why should these leading Democrats kowtow to a man who has regularly espoused hatred and bigotry? Sharpton led the boycott of Korean stores and riots against Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn.

Liberals need to realize that things some of them do may offend many Americans.

Jordan Jeffries Sun City, Ariz.

Senegal's election: a model for Africa?

Regarding the Jan. 4 opinion piece "An African source of pride" by Daniel Baer: He should have added Senegal to his list of African countries that seem to be moving in the right direction. In March 2000, we elected a new president, long-time opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade. Local and foreign observers all agreed that the election was fair and peaceful. It put an end to some 40 years of rule by the same party. President Abdou gracefully conceded to his opponent, earning praise from everyone. As a Senegalese, I am also proud that we have never experienced a military coup.

As an African, I pray for the day when democratic changes in government will be routine affairs on the continent of Africa.

Amadou Wane Toronto

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