Counseling is available for SIDS familiesYour Oct. 29...

LETTERS

November 11, 1996

Counseling is available for SIDS families

Your Oct. 29 article, "Grief, Guilt & SIDS," did an excellent job in presenting the controversies associated with current risk-reduction efforts. October was Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month, so the article was timely.

The backlash of increased SIDS awareness is that families relive the deaths of their babies and the ''what if?'' questions resurface. SIDS in the news produces conflicting emotions for families that are grateful for the visibility but saddened as they remember their babies.

For that reason, it is essential that such articles include resources available to families. Specifically, all Maryland families can receive counseling and support from the Maryland SIDS Information and Counseling Program of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Families new to Maryland may not be aware of our services, which are available at no charge. We can be telephoned at 410-706-5062 or 1-800-808-SIDS.

In addition, new and expectant parents may want information about the "Back to Sleep" campaign that the Public Health Service sponsors. Information is available, at no charge, by calling 1-800-808-CRIB.

Jodi Shaefer

Baltimore

The writer is director of the Maryland SIDS Information and Counseling Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Hopkins is hostage to U.S. News rankings

I wish to comment on the Nov. 1 Opinion Commentary article by Nick Thompson concerning the annual college rankings by U.S. News and World Report. Mr. Thompson is vice president of the Stanford University student body and, presumably, an undergraduate. His well-written commentary concerning the fallacious nature of the magazine's rankings is probably a more accurate indicator of Stanford's academic excellence than its ranking by the magazine.

The rankings are dangerous. People tend to think of the rankings as absolute academic ratings rather than the composite evaluation of many criteria used by the magazine to evaluate undergraduate programs. During a recent gathering of parents of undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University, a parent of an incoming student told me that his son had considered another school besides Hopkins, but had selected Hopkins because it ''was ranked'' 15th while the other school ''was ranked'' 16th. When questioned, the father clearly had no idea what criteria were used; he assumed that it only included academics. In fact, the father was not even sure who did the rankings; I assumed that it was U.S. News.

The rankings also rely too heavily on questionable criteria. One category in which Hopkins always scores low is student satisfaction with social life. . . . For decades the administration has attempted to make undergraduate life at the school more sociable, yet the students still claim there is no social life. The alleged lack of social life is as much a part of the Hopkins culture as lacrosse. And yet U.S. News uses this as a criterion in its ranking.

The magazine should simply report on the conclusions reached under the various criteria, and forget the overall ranking. Or Hopkins should simply stop providing data to the magazine. . . . According to Mr. Thompson, there is only one school in the country that does not cooperate with U.S. News -- Reed College in Oregon. If more colleges and universities joined Reed College perhaps they all could escape what Mr. Thompson characterizes as being ''hostage to the rankings."

Frank K. Krueger Jr.

Columbia

Truly remarkable standards implied

What a remarkable society we have achieved.

We pay people not to work. We pay farmers not to grow crops. We pay teen-age girls not to have babies out of wedlock. We give SSI checks to imprisoned felons and to "disabled" drug addicts to buy more drugs. We give taxpayers' money to sugar growers to keep the price of sugar at double the world price. We pump money into a public education system that doesn't educate our children, yet deny help to private schools that do. We encourage the growth of job-creating small businesses, but burden them with taxes and impossible regulations.

An ABC exit poll says 53 percent of those who voted for Bill Clinton feel he is not an honest man. Yet, we elect Bill Clinton president. God save the republic.

Harry R. Shriver

Pikesville

Mandatory sentence was too much for Hurt

All day recently on television we got half-baked, half-hour, half-truths regarding the reason for the five-year sentence to Nathaniel Hurt. Even Michael Olesker added his Oct. 24 column, stating that Hurt was jailed for shooting a young boy.

He even takes a swipe at attorney Stephen L. Miles -- who does not need me to defend him -- but when something is incorrect, it should be clarified no matter who may be involved.

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