While politicians waste time, 'we the people' can save energy

Regarding the Feb. 22 article, "How fast must we act on global warming?": While these experts may disagree on the urgency with which to act, "we the people" can in fact do something ourselves to cut carbon emissions, and do it reasonably inexpensively. We can change all of our home light bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, which use up to 75 percent less electricity than incandescent bulbs, thereby lowering our demand for energy.

We can also be aware of the federal tax credit, due to expire at the end of 2007, which provides assistance for energy-saving modifications to our homes.

Experts can continue their discussions while everyday folks can get busy helping themselves and their planet.
Kevin Fitzpatrick
Florissant, Mo.

'No Child Left Behind' has failed

In response to your Feb. 22 editorial, "Now's the time to test standardized tests": The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has neither approached its goal of 100 percent student "proficiency" nor prompted any real improvements in school quality.

But the answer is not for Congress to renew and to intensify the law's failed test-and-punish approach, as recommended by President Bush and by the Aspen Institute panel.

Instead, Congress should heed mountains of testimony from those on the front lines about the law's negative consequences. Teachers from diverse districts and from every state have testified that NCLB prods them to engage in narrow test preparation that may inflate scores but does not produce real learning. Congress should heed the advice of the 106 national civil rights, education, religious, children's, and disability organizations that have endorsed the Joint Organizational Statement on NCLB. That document calls for reducing the importance of standardized tests and deemphasizing counterproductive punishments.

Rather, the law should focus on proven ways to improve the quality of education in the nation's neediest schools, such as providing better teacher training and more classroom resources.
Lisa Guisbond
Policy analyst, FairTest
Cambridge, Mass.

Protect free speech

Regarding the Feb. 22 article, "A farmer who tills the airwaves": As Maryland listeners of Robert Skoglund's radio show on public radio in Maine, we were delighted with the article. We are particularly fond of the "over-the-top" Maine accent and sensibilities that "the humble Farmer" conveys. (It is a Maine-produced program after all.)

However, we were very alarmed at Maine public radio's reaction to Mr. Skoglund's opinions. Public radio, of all places, should be the first venue to welcome opinion of all varieties. We hope that Maine public radio will reconsider its unfortunate position and allow Skoglund, and all of us, to return to the quirky, authentic, Maine-inspired program that so many people love.
Barbara and Herb Jacobowitz
Silver Spring, Md.

Some hymns amaze wherever they go

In response to the Feb. 26 article, "It's amazing where this song is heard": I loved the writer's account of her numerous encounters with the song "Amazing Grace" in different parts of the world. It is my favorite of all hymns. Thank you for such an uplifting narrative.
Marilyn Bryan
Taylor, Ark.

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