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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

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please fax letters to (617) 450-2317 or address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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