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Questioning the Success of Magnet Schools

I've long admired the Monitor's excellent coverage of education issues. So it was with particular interest that I read the Learning page article " `Magnets' Attract in Kansas City," June 15.

The sidebar spoke of Walter Marks's dismal failure in the bankrupt Richmond, Calif., school district. I am a veteran of 18 years in the classroom and a survivor of that bankruptcy. All this talk of "magnets" and "systems for choice" makes me recoil in horror and anger.

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Mr. Marks means well, but his ideas are not new, and his ability to spend money, whether it's available or not, is hardly visionary. Educational reform - real reform - is not about catchy program titles or shortsighted, well-traveled administrators like Marks who, in the name of innovation, destroy communities, teacher morale, and most important, hope for the thousands of lives they affect.

The real hope for the future of public education lies in political will and, oddly enough, in many of the very classrooms we barely maintain. Bruce L. Greene, Oakland, Calif. Republican women and the Senate

Regarding the editorial "Women Surge Ahead," June 5: The implication that the Republicans are lagging in nominating women for the Senate and for other public offices is unfair and untrue.

Did the Monitor print a similar editorial in 1990 when six women ran for the Senate as Republicans? How many of those who today are trumpeting the advances of women (and who bemoaned the dearth of women in the Senate during the Thomas-Hill hearings) took notice in 1990? And how many supported any of those Republican women in their races for the Senate? Albert Cole Jr., Las Cruces, N.M. The `Big Thaw'

I found the Opinion page column "For College Grads From the '60s, a Big Thaw," June 15, one of the most encouraging articles I've read in a while. Maybe it's not naive to hope JFK's statement "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," can still apply today.

We should welcome the return of the concept of working not just to increase our material assets or to pay the bills, but also to make a larger contribution to the community, the country, the world. What a difference this could make in solving some of the tough problems facing both the country and the planet.

I especially appreciate the idea that the idealism of the '60s wasn't just a fad indulged in by affluent kids from the suburbs, but rather was something that came from the hearts of many people who rebelled against living for themselves only.

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It may have been lost sight of in recent decades, but I am looking forward to a renaissance of new, wiser activism in the '90s and beyond. Eileen A. Sorrels, San Ramon, Calif.

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