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Harvard's Summers should have calculated more carefully

In his Jan. 26 Opinion piece, "Summers and the arrogant bandwagon," Jonathan Zimmerman called for openness while we explore Dr. Summers's proposal that females might be biologically inferior to males in the math-science realm. This topic has already been studied extensively for over 25 years.

Math educators have already addressed the findings that have come from these studies, as well as concerns related to American students' dismal scores on international math tests and proposed sweeping new changes to the nation's math curriculum. Of course, if we followed Dr. Summers's thinking, I suppose we should begin studies to determine why American students are biologically inferior to European and Asian students.

Such studies and debates don't just pose the wrong questions; they waste time, money, and energy that would be better spent addressing and finding solutions to the problems we face.

We need to support girls' math education in this country, not just for their sakes but because the mathematical avenues we explore and put our national energy toward need to incorporate the tremendous gifts that the creative, holistic thinking processes of half our nation bring to them.
Deborah Randolph
Mount Shasta, Calif.
The writer has been a math educator for 28 years and is a former IBM math consultant.

Mr. Zimmerman writes: "Professors have every right to call Israel racist, in other words, but absolutely no right to judge students based on whether they agree." If those professors are teaching a class in history or the modern Middle East, I agree with Mr. Zimmerman that they should challenge their students' beliefs and not be afraid to express strong opinions.

If it were a physics class, on the other hand, I believe that this sort of expression should not be allowed. It serves no educational purpose and will alienate students and reduce their faith in the fairness of their teacher and their grades.
Oren Levine
Waltham, Mass.


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