Multicultural US needs choice in bilingual ed

Regarding your Oct. 17 editorial "School choice on bilingual ed" and Jonathan Zimmerman's Opinion piece "Bilingual ed: choice or coercion?": I grew up in linguistically diverse cities of the US, and speak several languages. That said, it is every school's duty to prepare its students to function in an English-speaking environment. If immigrant communities want to emphasize their own language and culture, they are free to do so.

A mastery of English is required to succeed in the US, and the great majority of poor immigrants are acutely aware of that reality. Neither politicians nor politically committed educators should play games with children's futures.

Let's leave foreign languages in the hands of the communities themselves. If they want them badly enough, they will set up their own school systems. But tax-funded school systems must emphasize English.
Shaun Darragh
Seoul, South Korea

Regarding "School choice on bilingual ed": Pretty much every other country in the world takes speaking more than one language for granted, and they seem to manage it without civilization collapsing. Surely American schools can give the students the English they need more effectively by addressing individual community situations than by arbitrary fiat.
Katherine Wiley
Rockland, Mass.

Separating government from its people

In his Oct. 16 commentary "An Iraqi wonders about US politics," Cameron Barr explains that many Iraqis say "they have nothing against Americans, and then bluntly state that they hate the US government." This sort of thinking does not represent "ambivalence," but rather proves that the Iraqi people know the difference between the US government and its people.

With the present regime, many of us who consider ourselves to be loyal Americans stand very much in opposition to the actions of that ill-conceived administration. It is not "the American people" who are determined to cause so much insane hardship to take place against the people of Iraq, but rather our current national administration and the war machine who put them into power.
(The Rev.) Nelson French
Lexington, Ky.

Key US issues still unaddressed

In his Oct.16 Opinion piece "The failure of US leadership," Richard Hottelet has made a number of important points. In spite of the administration's firm and appropriate response to the events of Sept.11, it has failed in other critical areas.

Middle East violence continues, Palestinian statehood seems as unlikely now as it did 10 years ago, Wall Street and the economy are on a slide down, and corporate America has been wracked by corruption and scandal. All this while the president unveils an aggressive foreign policy that speaks of regime changes, military might, and American hegemony, which leaves us wondering about the future of diplomacy and the uncertain path we are being taken down.
Carl Mattioli
Newtonville, Mass.

Kazakhstan's search for peace

Regarding Brenda Shaffer's Oct. 11 Opinion piece "A border conflict resolved – without war": Kazakhstan's policy has always been to foster mutually beneficial cooperation and to settle border issues with our neighbors peacefully. Our agreement defining the 950-miles-long border with China was the first such agreement in the region with Beijing. Like the US, we believe that democracy and prosperity are the rights of all peoples, and that both are reliable deterrents against terrorism and conflict. Peace, stability, and prosperity are important not only in Kazakhstan, but throughout the world.
Kanat Saudabayev
Ambassador of the Republic of Kazakhstan

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