Regarding the Sept. 15 article "New cracks in nuclear containment": The current nonproliferation regime does not work, as evidenced by the activities of North Korea, South Korea (an ally), and Iran. The basis of nonproliferation treaties is that those in the nuclear club can keep what they have, trade technologies among themselves, and build more should they desire to, while those not in the club are prohibited from creating an indigenous nuclear capability.
Rather than pouring billions into a nonfunctional system where Israel, India, and Pakistan have already developed their own nuclear arsenals, why not focus our efforts on the new reality - more regional nuclear powers with limited arsenals rather than the large, world-crushing threat of the cold war. How would we handle a potential nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan or Iran and Israel? How will our defense guarantees of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan evolve as China develops more intercontinental missiles or North Korea creates a handful of medium-range missiles?
Our nuclear thinking is still mired in the mind-set of the cold war, from which the nonproliferation regime emerged. It's time to move beyond that.
Falls Church, Va.
I read your Sept. 16 editorial, "Minorities Score On SAT," with much interest, as I am an SAT tutor. Over the years I have come to realize that students educated in wealthier communities generally perform better on standardized tests. However, I have had students from wealthy districts score poorly, and students from poor districts score very well. My conclusion is that there are just too many variables - the type of student and his or her home environment being the most influential - to design a test that could be considered fair.
I believe that we must set a reasonable educational standard in this country, and then proceed to challenge students, their schools, and most important, their families, to provide the basic fundamentals necessary to achieve a decent SAT score. Otherwise, we will eventually default to the lowest level whereby we could test everyone, factor in all the "handicaps," give everyone the same score and convince ourselves that the new SAT is indeed fair, once and for all.
The author surmises that minority students will be more apt to take advanced math courses in light of the changes in the math component of the SAT. This is true; the challenge for urban and rural school districts, however, will be the ability to garner funds away from "No Child Left Behind" initiatives related to student achievement (at the "status quo" level) so that juniors and seniors in high school, and perhaps even middle schoolers, can have access to the expertise of advanced math and science teachers who are willing to teach children in nonsuburban school districts.
Regarding the Sept. 16 article "In storm path: coastal boom": There are some steps that have not been taken that would help minimize both suffering and financial losses.
Insurers should begin offering lower rates for buildings that are truly ready to stand up under a hurricane. This might well be coupled with higher ones for those that do not qualify. A program of education and orientation for prospective residents in such coastal areas should be undertaken. The worst losses are generally among those unfamiliar with the hazards of their new environment. Again, perhaps this should be financed by the insurers, and is quite likely to be very cost-effective.
Dr. John T. Thurmond
Little Rock, Ark.
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