Southern schools' methods of progress won't work elsewhere

Regarding the Aug. 5 article "Why the rise in pupils' test scores? The South.": Southern governors should certainly be applauded for taking longstanding positions designed to improve the education systems in their states. However, it is premature and perhaps even naive to think that other states have anything to learn from the Southern experience.

For example, Asafa Powell recently set the world record in the 100-meter dash with a time of 9.77 seconds. I am 47 years old. I'm 6 ft. 4 in. tall and weigh nearly 300 lbs. I run the 100-meter dash in about 20 seconds. Just about anything I might try would improve my time. But that doesn't mean Mr. Powell would have very much to learn from my efforts.

Establishing government-mandated standards requiring Powell to use the same training methods I use to improve my time would probably do Powell more harm than good.

For all the hype surrounding their improving test scores, Southern schools remain the worst in the country. As a high school teacher, I believe that our politicians would do the country a disservice if they were to build national education policy around the Southern model.
Charles A. Bull
Potosi, Wis.

Flip-flops don't make good landing gear

Regarding the Aug. 5 article "Why flying is safer now": I am a commercial airline pilot, employed by an airline based in Atlanta. Like everyone else, I am grateful everyone escaped from the Air France airplane.

When I am at work, I am continually amazed at how passengers come dressed to the airport, the young especially. They are not dressed for survival. They wear flip-flops and shorts, as if they are going to the beach. If they had to evacuate an airplane in distress, they would do so barefoot and unprotected.

I had a passenger follow me through security one day, and he noticed that I had my uniform shoes as the lace-up style. He said I should have slip-ons. I told him that I preferred lace-ups because they do not come off in a crash, and I would prefer to escape with my shoes on. He said, "That's not very optimistic." I told him it was very optimistic - I intend to be a survivor.

If people want to be survivors like those from the Air France airplane, they need to dress appropriately when they come to the airport.
Robert Ford
Ooltewah, Tenn.

Makes me feel like I'm back in Iraq

Regarding the July 22 article "TV series 'Over There' dramatizes Iraq war": I was a staff sergeant in the United States Army and I served in Operation Iraqi Freedom with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). For eight years I served my country as an infantryman. In October 2004 my obligation ended and I was honorably discharged. I could not reenlist because I now have a son and I have a obligation not only to love him but to be there for him.

I have a void inside that will never be filled, depression and just emptiness, because I have left the only life that I knew.

I miss being a soldier more than words can explain. The TV series "Over There" comforts me. When I watch it, it puts me right back over there next to my men, next to soldiers; it puts me back in the only world that I know, the world that I can only cherish but never be part of again.

Thank you for writing about a TV series that is so accurate. It stands for every American soldier who has been there, will go there, or most important has given their life there. God bless them all.
Staff Sgt. Adrian D. Lopez (USA, ret.)
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
Dickinson, Texas

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