Editor: Robert Gates would have us believe that when he was second in command of the CIA, he did not know of its illegal, but well-publicized, contra supply operation which was directed by Mr. Gates' superior, Bill Casey, and executed by Mr. Gates' subordinates.
If Mr. Gates is telling the truth, he certainly does not deserve to be confirmed as chief of U.S. ''intelligence'' operations. If Mr. Gates is lying, he deserves to be jailed.
Harold H. Burns Jr. C. N. Lyon Whitman. Baltimore.
Editor: The first report of the National Education Goals Panel, as expected by many, showed little change in students' proficiency in math, reading and writing during the past decade. I think this points out a critical issue in American education -- the absence of a ''practical'' element in the teaching of subjects.
Our students, for the most part, are hardly aware of what use their school subjects will be to them outside of the school setting. Placing a heavy emphasis on achievement test findings, without blending the school subjects with applications of such course material as is used in occupations and life management, will inevitably result in an undesirable distortion of the education process. In all too many cases, and understandably so, teachers will find the most effective way to ''teach for the test.'' But don't we want more than high scores on such tests?
We must bring in components in the assessment process that measure the extent to which the student can take the subject matter and put it to use in occupational and life management situations? After all, isn't that why we allocate such a large part of our financial resources to support public education?
This will serve as an important message to students and teachers alike: We want students to leave each grade with abilities to perform certain academic activities (such as computing percentages in middle school) within the framework of situations in which they will be called upon to use those skills outside of school.
`Angelo C. Gilli Sr. Pasadena.
Editor: We cannot believe there is so little important news in the world that you had to put on the front page a story about a Palestinian's problems in getting a driver's license in Israel.
Is there no other country in the world that the media can get into to get the news?
Is this the price that the only democracy in the Middle East has to pay?
Doesn't anything ever happen in other countries of importance?
Not a day goes by that Israel isn't mentioned in your paper. Let's be fair and let's boost the many good points of the only true democracy and our ally in the Middle East.
Sam and Debbie Ansel. Randallstown.
Editor: Whoever in the Oriole organization was responsible for the events of the farewell weekend at Memorial Stadium deserves nothing but praise.
Nostalgia is much of what baseball is about, but it's easy to muck it up.
I attended the opening opener in 1954 and everyone after that except for a few in the mid-50s when I was away keeping the world safe for democracy. I've been to all the playoffs, World Series, and the great four with the Brewers in 1982.
Despite all of that excitement, my number one memory will forever be of Brooks Robinson standing at third base, all alone, on a chill windy baseball diamond with a hole in the ground where home plate used to be.
He was alone for about 30 seconds with the crowd roaring,
moving the dirt around with his toe as he used to do in embarrassment after a rare error.
This was a legendary image and I'm sure that the 50,000 people who saw it will never forget it.
I plan to be at the opener in April. If it comes off half as well as this weekend, it will be splendid.
` Sig Seidenman. Owings Mills.
Editor: My wife, a season ticket holder of more than 20 years to Oriole games, was more than a little disgusted by the ''rip-off'' at the stadium Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Everyone who wanted to order a beer or Coke was forced to buy a plastic souvenir mug for an additional 75 cents.
We don't know whose idea this was, but it left a bad taste in everyone's mouth and showed the pure commercialism of baseball.
$ Walker Peterson. Baltimore.
Editor: Now that Yitzhak Shamir and his Likud government are gearing to fight for the release of $10 billion in loan guarantees and bring to bear a heavy influence through the Jewish congressional lobby (50,000 membership and a $13 million dollar kitty), it is time to take the proper perspective. This is of course the prospect of peace in the Middle East.
There are certainly enough reasons for peace when you consider the death of 128 Marines from a Palestinian bomb truck and the blighted lives of Terry Anderson, Joseph Cicippio, Thomas Sutherland, Alan Steen and the British and Europeans still in custody.