Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 07, 2004

Education law requires states to show results

I appreciate The Sun's analysis of the new federal regulations for second-language students ("Long overdue," editorial, March 3). And yes, second-language students do require and deserve additional resources. But we do have different views about the national debate on the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

This law, supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, is tough but fair. But some people are looking for ways to undermine it. So even though the administration has provided more than enough money to make the law work, critics counter that it is still not enough.

That reminds me of the way Albert Einstein defined insanity: The belief that you can get different results by doing the same thing over and over again.

But it doesn't take an Einstein to see that all the money in the world won't fix our schools if the only plan is to just to throw more money at them. To make a difference, we must first create a framework for change. That's what the NCLB law does.

For the past 40 years, the federal government has allowed states to take funds with few strings attached for the most part. But now, under NCLB, states have to account for those funds and make sure that children are actually learning. That is why some states are unhappy, but I believe the taxpayers deserve better accountability.

Full implementation of the NCLB law, which The Sun urges, is my goal. That is why the federal government has made an unprecedented effort to work with states and localities to meet their needs.

But if we want to make education equitable and provide students with a world-class education, then we must all work harder to make the law work.

Education of the children must be our primary concern.

Rod Paige

Washington

The writer is U.S. secretary of education.

Abstinence message isn't enough for teens

The idea of abstinence-only sexual education is appealing, as abstinence is the only strategy that is 100 percent effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. However, there is no evidence that this strategy has been effective ("Only abstinence as the answer," Feb. 29).

In the United States, it is estimated that 343 teen-agers contract a sexually transmitted infection per hour. In addition, more than 20,000 Americans between ages 13 and 24 years have HIV/AIDS.

Our sexual education programs cannot rely on anecdotal evidence from abstinence-only programs to the exclusion of proven strategies to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.

Our children must be given a choice, and denying them access to effective health information is an ethical crime.

Allisyn C. Moran

Baltimore

Protect the teachers so children can learn

I found state Sen. David R. Brinkley's comment about the city school bailout plan interesting ("Ehrlich measure would create powerful city school authority," March 2). Mr. Brinkley asked, "Are you trying to educate kids or protect jobs?"

The purpose of the schools is to educate the children. However, it would be difficult to achieve that goal without "protecting" the jobs of those responsible for that task.

Scott Ference

Baltimore

Eliminate barriers to morning-after pill

In any emergency situation, lost time can affect the outcome. This is true for a particularly common emergency - unprotected sex ("Falling back on Plan B is tough in most states," March 2).

There should not be any barriers for women needing emergency contraception (the morning-after pill). If women lose time obtaining emergency contraception or are unable to get the prescription they still need, they could become pregnant.

Therefore, we should remove all existing barriers to the availability of emergency contraception and support the Food and Drug Administration's ruling that the morning-after pill should be available over the counter.

Sarah Shea

Baltimore

Gender of parents isn't what matters

The writer of the letter "Gay marriage will be harmful to our children" (March 1) promotes half-truths when he claims that "statistics suggest" children with two-parent, mother-father homes have a significantly greater chance of success in life than children with any other family form.

He fails to understand the nature of this research, which actually shows that having two parents in the home - regardless of their gender - is a protective factor for children.

When children with two gay or lesbian parents in the home are compared to children with two heterosexual parents in the home, research has found no difference in terms of the children being "grounded, caring, intelligent and well-rounded."

Mary Lambert

Baltimore

Draining U.S. jobs, exploiting workers

Thomas L. Friedman paints a very rosy picture of young Indians being trained as call center workers and seeing their low-paying jobs as the beginning of lucrative careers ("More to outsourcing than just economics," Opinion

Commentary March 2). One even has his sights set on becoming another Bill Gates.

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