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Equality Eludes County's Schoolchildren

The article "Test Shows Racial Gap is Closing," July 12, makes the unfounded assertion that racial gaps in education are closing in Montgomery County, Md. Although there have been advances made on some tests, it is misleading to state that this signifies a closing of the racial gap. Some indexes, such as the percentage of black males assigned to certain types of special education classes, in particular the emotionally disturbed and learning disabled, have basically remained constant for more than a decad e.

The Montgomery County Public Schools' (MCPS) self-congratulatory rhetoric is belied by the suspension rate for black male students - three times the rate for whites - and by the dearth of black and Hispanic students in elite high school magnet programs.

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The local NAACP chapter is considering suing MCPS for its failure to adequately educate black students. Other African-American activists express frustration with the failure of principals and teachers to improve the educational opportunities available to African-American students.

MCPS is perceived in the African-American community as magnifying its limited successes as they relate to black students and minimizing its many shortcomings. It uses statistics to obscure realities that do not show it in a good light. The African-American community is demanding positive change rather than public-relations posturing. Malik M. Chaka, Silver Spring, Md. African-American Parents/Community Education Consortium Be fair about NAFTA

Regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the View from Capitol Hill article "Thumbs Down on NAFTA Pact," July 6: There is no denying that some sectors of the United States economy will be hit harder by NAFTA than others. While the vast majority of studies that have been done on the effects of NAFTA's impact on labor forecast a net increase in US jobs, sectors such as textiles and apparel are predicted to be among the losers.

However, this scenario is far different from the author's ominous prediction of NAFTA's "dragging down" the American middle class.

Additionally, the reasoning that firms always seek those countries with the lowest wages is simply not supported by existing evidence. After all, it was BMW that chose to locate its first non-German plant in Spartanburg, a city in the senator's own South Carolina, largely on the basis of his state's ability to supply skilled labor.

Let's be clear about the stakes involved in NAFTA and try to avoid the hyperbole that has visited the debate in recent weeks. Paul Turner, Bloomington, Ind. Appropriate humor

When The Christian Science Monitor arrives, the first thing I do is look back on the last page to see Danziger's cartoon. I was especially attracted to the cartoon of July 9. It shows the American ingenuity of a couple taking advantage of a serious situation and using it to paint a hard-to-reach place in their home, which was being flooded. Keep up the good work. Clinton Poertner, Sun City, Ariz.

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The Christian Science Monitor to me is a very special newspaper. However, it is the opinion of this reader that the Danziger cartoon of July 9 is an exception. Am I overreacting, or is this cartoon in poor taste? Patricia Blake, Boise, Idaho Implications of a comparison

The author of the editorial "The Silent Genocide," July 9, observes that Bosnian Muslims "face the prospect of becoming the `Palestinians of Europe.' " This implies a direct equation of Serb-Croat genocide with Israeli occupation. Whatever the transgressions of the Israeli regime, they do not include systematic mass slaughter. And they occur against a background of mutually exacerbated tensions. T. Berkman, Santa Barbara, Calif.

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