Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Olympic boycotts, borrower bailouts, and curriculum overload.

Boycott of Beijing Olympics: Will the threat work?

In response to John Cooley's April 9 Opinion piece, "Olympic boycotts – a bad idea": When will the very well-meaning human rights protesters and politicians from all over the Western world realize that for hundreds of years foreigners have been trying unsuccessfully to tell the Chinese how to run their country? No one responds well to scolding, threats, or violence.

Respectful, friendly disagreement with some foreign or internal policies are appropriate, but actions intended to embarrass and belittle the Chinese are off the mark and are probably counterproductive. A politics-free Olympics is in everyone's best interest.

The leaders and people of the People's Republic of China have enough morals and good judgment to work through the cultural, economic, and political transition that is occurring in their country without constant hectoring from other parts of the world.

Cut them some slack, show some respect, and watch positive change come for Tibet and elsewhere.

Larry Backus
Green Valley, Ariz.

In response to John Cooley's recent Opinion piece on why Olympic boycotts are a bad idea: The piece makes a strong case as to why past boycotts have failed. While good people can disagree as to the strategic value of such an effort, what is clear is that the people of Darfur need action now – they cannot wait until the summer. There is no excuse for delaying United States action on Darfur until the Beijing Olympics in August.

Americans who care about the plight of innocent Darfuris must urge George W. Bush to immediately use the diplomatic might of the US to help end the killing.

Without question, China holds the key to a change in Sudanese policy.

If President Bush can cajole China into acting responsibly vis-à-vis Darfur, perhaps the Olympics can open with hope rather than under a cloud.

Raj Purohit
Bethesda, Md.

Bailouts prevent natural correction

Regarding the April 8 article, "Should Congress help borrowers?": The subtitle, "Lawmakers are finding it difficult to mount large-scale help for homeowners," was misleading. The term "speculator" might be a more appropriate term than "homeowner" to describe both lenders and borrowers in the current mortgage debacle. As long as Congress continues to prevent the housing market from correcting to a point where reasonable people making sound financial decisions based on verifiable income can reenter the real estate market, the housing market will continue to fluctuate in unpredictable ways.

Lauren Palmer
Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

Narrow public schools' focus

In response to the March 13 article, "Focus on algebra, panel tells schools": It was with joy that I recently read this article on recommendations to reduce the number of standards we teach in public schools and deepen students' experience and understanding of fewer concepts and skills. I have nearly 20 years of experience in teaching the intermediate grades in California, where "they" boast of our world-class standards. (I assume "they" to be the content professors who write our standards – certainly not child-development specialists.) I go into my sixth-grade classroom and try to teach 11-year-olds mathematical concepts (box-and-whisker graphs, statistical bias, high-level probability) that I did not learn until college! When will we stop focusing on their test scores and start focusing on their ages and readiness?

Tracey Sittig
Stockton, Calif.

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