Ex-Soviet states each have their own path to democracy

Regarding the Feb. 10 article, "Democracy rising in ex-Soviet states": The government of the Kyrgyz Republic announced its desire to conduct fair and transparent elections, including changing election law, using ink to prevent repeat voting, and inviting monitors from numerous international bodies. Rallies held by our opposition are a sign of a healthy democratic process. However, they have to be done according to existing legislation.

Similarly, the former foreign minister, Roza Otunbaeva, was banned from running in the upcoming parliamentary elections not by the president of Kyrgyzstan, but in conformity with the existing legislation. That legislation must be changed by the parliament, and that cannot be done before this month's elections.

Judging all of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) on the basis of the behavior of, and events in, any one of them is not correct. They are each unique and their differences have become more apparent since the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Struggling to ensure that the democratic processes maintain a strong foothold in Kyrgyzstan, which is only 13 years old, it is particularly important for our government to build - with both US and Russian cooperation - a viable economy in a threatened region. Presenting our options only in cold-war terms does a disservice to your readers.
Ambassador Baktybek Abdrisaev
Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic


Higher ed more accessible for tribes

Regarding the Feb. 15 article "Gains on the reservations": One of the important reasons educational levels among tribes has risen is the 36 tribal community colleges located on Indian reservations like United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, N.D.

These community colleges have alliances with universities, so when students complete their two-year degree they can transfer to a larger university closer to their homes - making education more accessible to reservation people. Also, the tribes with casinos have placed more of their monies into scholarships for higher education.

However, there is still a great deal of work to do to reach more American Indian students, especially for those tribes with limited resources.
Harriett Skye Walnut Creek, Calif.
Member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North and South Dakota

The 3-D student - more than test scores

Based on my experience as an independent college counselor, Susan Demersseman and every parent who feels the way she does (Feb. 15 Opinion piece, "College admissions capitalizing on worry?") are on their way to an "A" in parenting.

As the number of students taking test prep classes grows and high school grades get inflated, these "scores" are becoming less useful indicators of how well applicants will do in college settings. Colleges have responded by weighting more heavily the personal qualities of young learners. Helping high schoolers develop and showcase their fine personal qualities is the single best thing a parent can do in the college admissions process - just as in life.
Paul Mulkerrin
Englewood, Colo.

Loving the game beats winning it

After reading Bob Katz's Feb. 14 Opinion piece, "It's how long you play the game," I cannot help being reminded of the inscription over the main door of the Palestra sports arena at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania.

It says simply: To play the game is great; to win the game is greater; to love the game is greatest."

Not a bad precept to follow.
Andy Mara
Alexandria, Va.

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