Communities, not states, should have authority over education

Regarding your Dec. 14 editorial, "How to keep America's education edge," about states being the more appropriate purveyor of educational policy: It isn't the job of K-12 education to try and swat the ever-moving fly of industrial and commercial needs. Primarily, education must focus on creating a citizenry that can read, write, calculate, and reason well. The need for these skills does not fluctuate with the Dow Jones averages of different companies. These skills are the foundation of a well-educated nation.

States will probably run their educational systems based on politics. And every time someone in politics decides to shift the educational focus, there will be a lot of wasted time and talent as educators change multiple variables trying to hit the new target. Politics must be kept out of education policy. The state must ensure that there is fair and equitable funding for all of the students under its care, but other than that, it should be hands-off and let the community decide for its own children what constitutes a well-educated citizen.
David O'Hara
Sandwich, Mass.

Saudi women of substance and strength

The writer of the Dec. 8 article, "In Riyadh, 'Saudi Jeans' and calls to prayer," gives only a male perspective of Saudi Arabia, since foreign men are restricted in their access to Saudi women. The article seems to imply that women do a lot of shopping and little else. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In my travels to the Middle East and to Saudi Arabia, I found that a woman, especially in her senior years, is welcomed into the lives of both men and women. In Saudi Arabia, I was part of a group of American women that was hosted by a women's philanthropic organization in Riyadh. We learned of their dedication to, and financial support of, programs focused on helping women and their children. The organization sponsored free day care for children whose mothers needed to work, classes for children with special needs, and arts and crafts classes where women could use their talents to make a living. I asked if American women who lived in compounds in Riyadh were invited to these craft fairs and the answer was that, yes, they were invited but none attended. Too bad! American women were even invited to become members of this organization, but there were no takers.

We also visited university women professors and women who were doctors, presidents of banks, and business owners. These same women were also mothers and grandmothers, which they still regard as their most important role in a conservative Muslim society. Seeing Saudi women covered in black from head to toe when they appear in public gives us in the West an impression that women are oppressed and submissive, but I met no submissive women in the Saudi kingdom.
Anita Allen
Columbus, Ohio

Put jobless to work in place of illegals

Regarding the Dec. 14 article, "An illegal immigration link to identity theft": If the US strictly enforced keeping illegal immigrants out, the thought is that there might be a negative impact on our economy.

But what if each state took every able-bodied man and woman receiving welfare or unemployment benefits and sent him or her to fill these jobs that are usually filled by illegal immigrants? This could give these Americans on-the-job training. This would certainly help out the states' economies and give a lot of legal citizens an opportunity to make a living and perhaps improve their self-esteem.
Philip Livingston
St. George, Utah

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