Letters To The Editor


August 22, 2006

Studying abroad broadens horizons

The Sun's editorial "Sticking to the rules" (Aug. 13) pointed out well the need to expand our student exchange programs. The good news is that the number of American students studying abroad is actually higher than the figure given in the editorial.

The Institute of International Education's annual survey of American students who receive academic credit for study abroad reports that there were 191,321 in the 2003-2004 school year, rather than the 175,000 cited in the editorial.

And that number continues to rise each year, and has risen 150 percent in the past decade.

IIE applauds colleges and universities such as Goucher College that are making a strategic commitment to expanding study abroad and we offer a number of resources to help U.S. students get overseas.

Unfortunately, for many American students, "international" studies are not yet a part of their college education, although they very much need to be.

The U.S. government provides crucial funding for several programs which help outstanding young Americans study abroad (including the Fulbright Fellowships, the Gilman Scholarships and the National Security Education Program).

I hope that Congress will continue to provide support for these valuable programs, even in a year of tight budgets and competing demands.

As The Sun's editorial correctly noted, in a dangerous world the answer is not to shut our doors more tightly but instead to encourage international students to enroll in America's colleges and universities.

Peggy Blumenthal

New York

The writer is chief operating officer of the Institute of International Education.

Wrong to defend cut in school standards

In his bid to oust Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. from the governor's office, Mayor Martin O'Malley has defended the move to reduce passing grades from 70 to 60 in key subjects in city public schools by saying that it may make it easier for city students to get into college ("Candidates swap barbs on schools," Aug. 18).

Given the pitifully low percentage of city students who graduate from high school, let alone apply to college, his argument doesn't hold a drop of water.

The fact is that by lowering standards the city has found an easy way to raise graduation percentages and save face for the city schools bureaucracy, without attacking the fundamental causes of the problems in city schools - unqualified teachers, uninterested parents and, yes, a bloated school system bureaucracy.

Bill Herrfeldt


Proper for president to try to protect us

The Sun's editorial "Snooping rebuked" (Aug. 21) was an insensitive, biased, disrespectful attack on President Bush.

The Sun had the temerity to say that a federal judge "yanked President Bush up by the "scruff of his neck," as if they were equal officeholders.

The Sun seems to berate the president for taking action to do something about the terrorist threat to this country.

Did the editors forget already the Sept. 11 nightmare or the recent plots against air travelers from London?

Overreaching in his zeal to protect America? I think not.

Infringing on civil rights?

You must be kidding.

Walt Salmon


Ignoring the attacks that provoke Israel

As a law professor, George Bisharat should know that one's argument is weakened by ignoring facts that need to be explained ("Unilateral action by Israel spawns violence in Gaza," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 17).

The first such fact is that Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza came after many years of attempting to negotiate a withdrawal with Palestinians who seemed to be less interested in moving toward peace than in sustaining the conflict.

Mr. Bisharat similarly ignores the fact that Hamas is widely recognized as a bloodthirsty terrorist organization that continues to advocate the destruction of Israel and the murder of all of its Jewish inhabitants.

Nonetheless, Mr. Bisharat faults Israel for failing to engage in "negotiations based on respect for international law and equal rights" after Hamas crossed the border to kill and kidnap Israeli soldiers.

Mr. Bisharat must take his readers to be idiots.

Steven L. Sokolow


George Bisharat's column "Unilateral action by Israel spawns violence in Gaza" fails to mention that Israel would not be going back into Gaza, patrolling Gaza's borders or controlling anything else about Gaza if there were no rockets being launched daily from Gaza aimed at innocent civilians in Israel, if there were no suicide bombers from Gaza trying to sneak into Israel to kill Jews and if there wasn't an utter failure by the Palestinian leadership to agree to let Israel live in peace.

Randall Lutz


Israeli aggression is no path to peace

The column by George Bisharat about what Israel is doing in Gaza was very much to the point ("Unilateral action by Israel spawns violence in Gaza," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 17).

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