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Determining Who Can Teach

This is in reference to the editorial "Finding Teachers" (July 6). Upon completing a career as an officer in the United States Navy (and commanding two nuclear-powered warships and a technical school that taught nuclear engineering at the undergraduate and graduate level), I seriously considered teaching as a second career.

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Armed with more than 20 years of advanced nuclear engineering training and experience, a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, a master's degree in operations research (applied mathematics), I was, unfortunately, deemed unworthy by the State of Washington to teach. Before I could set foot in a mathematics, physics, chemistry, or computer science classroom, I would have to attend graduate school (again) for a year, learning educational dogma (additional math or science not required!).

My wife is a successful schoolteacher. We both share the frustration with a profession that is frequently unprofessional in outlook and execution - a profession that has instituted many barriers to good teachers (certified and uncertified) performing in the classroom. The education "establishment" must be fundamentally changed before any significant progress can be made in finding new teachers.

Steve Slaton

Silverdale, Wash.

Tuning out the music

The article "The Background Debate: Is it Music or Is It Noise?" (July 9) struck an extremely responsive chord in me as a professional amateur in the music business for over 40 years.

Leonard Bernstein once said there was "too much music" everywhere - the supermarket, the dentist's office, elevators, etc. This situation creates in listeners, or rather "non-listeners," the habit of ignoring music, which is carried over into concerts and operas. Background music seems to encourage conversation and ignoring the music- not exactly the best use of music, or what was intended by its composer.

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We could also extend this reasoning to include the TV manners one finds at the cineplex or theater, where conversation continues despite the movie playing.

Clyde S. Hiss

Bellingham, Mass.

Individual income tax

In the Monitor editorial "A Poor Target for Cuts" (June 30), the article "Why GOP Is Pushing Capital-Gains Tax Cut" (July 2), and the letters in "Reader's Write" (July 16), one fact has been left out of the discussion on how the tax code should be restructured: the 16th Amendment to the Constitution allows only for a tax on income. It does not allow for a tax on lifestyle, number of children, marital status, personal investment philosophy, ability to pay, or any other aspect of life, nor on any interpretation of the word "fair."

The usual response to this fact is that "income" means "family income." But this is not true and can be demonstrated by noting that a farming family, when the father passes on, is required to pay tax on the estate they inherit and presumably worked together to build. The estate is not considered to have been family income at that point, even though it may have previously been so considered.

Families do not have incomes; only individual people have incomes. Whatever is done to restructure the tax code, we should first begin by making it constitutionally correct. The alternative is to propose a new amendment stating that, "Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on anything it pleases," but I wouldn't vote for its ratification, and probably not many other people would either.

Rod Barto

El Paso, Texas

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Only a selection can be published, and we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to

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