Americans should broaden their news sources

"For the scoop, more Americans turn to the Brits" (Nov. 15, Ideas) reports that Americans now look more to non-US news sources. Perhaps more Americans are beginning to appreciate the political and corporate limitations on information in US media. The British press may be "sensationalistic" and "opinionated," as Irish media critic Trevor Butterworth believes, but American consensus journalism, posing as objectivity, constricts our public discourse to an extremely narrow range. Is it better to express your opinion or to pretend you don't have one? To get an accurate sense of what is actually going on, it's necessary to consult various sources, especially those beyond the pale of US orthodoxy.

James McEnteer Xico, Veracruz, Mexico

Include women in Afghan restructuring

Regarding "US diplomacy races to catch up to rebel gains" (Nov. 14): As diplomats scramble to avoid a long guerrilla war in Afghanistan, efforts to create a new government are focusing on a broad-based, multiethnic coalition. And while the inclusion of all ethnicities in any peace talks will be vital to ensure that Afghanistan does not once again descend into anarchy, one social group is consistently overlooked in these deliberations: women. Women's rights were severely curtailed under the Taliban's five-year rule, yet the oppression of Afghan women predates the Taliban. Many of the male leaders now being wooed as peace brokers by the international community have less than outstanding records on women's rights. There are many women leaders in the refugee camps of Pakistan who should be given the opportunity to voice their concerns about any future coalition.

As one Afghan refugee woman recently told a UN Security Council meeting on women's roles in peace-building, "Do not think that because we wear a veil, we do not have a voice."

Mary Diaz New York

Executive Director, Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children

Promote competition among schools

Privatizing the top management of public schools "When big-city schools flunk" (Nov. 13, editorial) ignores what really produces a quality product at a reasonable cost - not professional management, but competition. In every other business, if the quality of the product or service is poor, customers are free to go elsewhere, and the company improves or goes out of business. Competition breeds excellence. It is argued that vouchers and scholarships would drain resources from the public schools and that choice schools would "cherry pick" the best students, leaving the rest behind.

But as we can see from the test scores of students in Philadelphia, these children are already being left behind. We should be less interested in saving the public schools, and more interested in saving the students in them.

Daniel John Sobieski Chicago

Happy to be a home-schooling mom

I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Klose's "Telling the story, teaching my son" (Nov. 9, Home Forum) on the problems he faced when he decided to home school his son. It brought back many funny memories! I, too, started home schooling my four children eight years ago, and I could not have expressed so well the dilemma of "How do I start this?" Although all home-schooling parents face this rather shocking revelation, it is quickly overcome, and the joy we get from sharing information with our child - any way we want - is immeasurable. I have found home schooling is simply too much fun to give up!

Whitney McEvoy Santa Rosa, Calif.

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