Readers write

The "bottom line" for education

I was disgusted by your April 16 editorial "CEOs as School Principals." I have watched the language and beliefs of the marketplace enter into areas where they clearly have no place: public transportation, healthcare, and now education. I am frightened that children are receiving the wrong signals about education. By rewarding school districts with high test scores, we are telling our children "It doesn't matter how you learn or what you learn, as long as your score is high." High test scores have become the "bottom line."

And if we tease out this line of thought? The purpose of education is high test scores. High test scores get you into better colleges. Better colleges get you a better-paying job. It sounds a bit like an assembly line to me. It sounds like education (and children) have become a potential market, just another commodity to be exploited.

I thought there was a higher purpose to education: to increase knowledge and cultivate the self. Isn't that more important than any bottom line? If it is, I don't believe enough people are paying attention. My consolation is that, at the turn of the past century, people had the same reaction to the Gilded Age. I only pray that another true progressive movement is on the way.

Kevin Parker Philadelphia

Citizen districting would serve citizens

Regarding your April 19 article "Court strikes down race-based challenge to districting": The courts will not remedy the absence of democracy in the US. Whether redistricting is controlled by Republicans or Democrats, it's always done so as to create as many safe districts as possible. That's why incumbents rarely lose an election. In 2000, incumbents in Congress lost only two races. Our politicians are as much in control here as the Communist Party is in China.

I hope voters will take a look at Jesse Ventura's redistricting plan for Minnesota, which involves a citizen commission charged with creating as many competitive districts as possible. Because it's certain that the ruling parties won't arrange for a fair contest.

Neil Steyskal Arlington Va.

President "do little"?

Godfrey Sperling's column, "A 'do little' Bush presidency? Think again," in your April 17 issue does not mention President Bush's lack of initiative in the Middle East.

In the past year, Israeli-Palestinian violence has been tragically reignited. Over the past decade, the United States has acted as peacemaker there, but Mr. Bush has shown no interest in continuing this role, despite rising violence. The King of Jordan's plea for American mediation has fallen on deaf ears.

Concerning peacemaking in the Middle East, "do little" accurately describes President Bush's agenda

Chris Colvin Richmond, Calif.

Correcting pay disparities

I have been impressed the past couple of days with your articles on the economy and "the accidental tax cut." I especially liked your April 16 article regarding executive pay and the disparity between workers and CEOs, "Still high in a slowdown, executive pay draws looks." I have believed for many years that there ought to be a percentage used between the lowest-paid worker in a company and its highest-paid CEO: not more than a 40 to 50 percent difference in pay.

I would like to see GM or Ford make a car without the workers in the factories or GE produce a light bulb without the assembly line!

The arrogance of the boards of directors of these companies in not appreciating who is actually responsible for their success makes one ponder what other values they hold dear.

Jan O'Loughlin Newnan, Ga.

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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