WATCH YOUR STEP

KATHY SAWYER'S ARTICLE ON NEIL

Armstrong ["The Man on the Moon," July 11] was generally excellent, but she perpetuates a bit of historic revisionism: Armstrong's "small step" was not a "momentous hop from the ladder to the surface." That hop was onto the lunar module's landing pad, from which the step onto the lunar surface came shortly thereafter.

This is perhaps a petty quibble, but even 30 years on I remember the moonwalk as though it were yesterday, and it distresses me to see the details of the most historic event of my lifetime distorted in any way by those who were perhaps too young to remember it as I do.

KEVIN W. PARKER

Greenbelt

MEMORY BOX

E. LYNN HARRIS'S AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL revelation titled "Out of the Box" [July 18] moved me more than any other article I've read in decades. The memoir was very inspirational: The vulnerable and sensitive 12-year-old handled his problem in such a positive and mature manner.

MARGARET BACHMANN COATES

Bethesda

HIGH SCHOOL FOR ADULTS

AMY VIRSHUP'S ARTICLE ON THE GED ["Ticket to Where?" July 25] raised some interesting issues about the exam's value to adult learners who pursue this certification. However, the GED is not meant to be a replacement for high school. With most of our students in their thirties, high school is no longer a viable alternative for them. Our students have the maturity that life experiences afford and our goal is not to teach calculus, but to equip them with the critical thinking and reasoning skills that will help them pass the exam, secure a living-wage job and participate in their children's education.

As long as more than 40 percent of D.C. high school students drop out, we must provide adult learners another opportunity to acquire high school equivalency credentials and improve their basic educational skills. Our graduates consistently tell us the GED helps them accomplish this objective.

BOB WITTIG

Academy of Hope, Washington

RECRUITMENT REALITIES

LIZA MUNDY'S " `I HAVE ANOTHER OF-fer' " [July 25] helped me take a look at my own desires to be a teacher -- to help students, to work with my natural talents -- and compare those desires with the pay and challenges of teaching.

Unfortunately, my family situation makes teaching such a financial sacrifice that it became a dream I could not afford. The cost of classes, a semester of student teaching for no pay, and a starting salary of at least $10,000 less than I make now made it unfeasible.

I respect teachers for doing the best job they can for the least amount of financial reward. They are doing the hardest job -- it is not only teaching anymore, they are having to bring up the future.

KIM GRANADOS

Arlington

MY SON IS A MAY GRADUATE OF NEW Mexico State University in Las Cruces with a magna cum laude degree in education. He started applying for teaching positions throughout the metropolitan area last December when he was home visiting for the holidays.

Howard and Frederick counties sent a postcard stating all recruiting had been completed by January. Montgomery scheduled an interview with him. The District seemed thrilled by his application, and then handed him a list of its schools and said go find one that will hire you.

One District school was very interested but offered its sole position to an experienced teacher; another spent the majority of the interview emphasizing that he would be one of eight Caucasians in the school; others either were not answering their telephones or the messages never got through.

Prince George's did not answer its telephones or -- if it did -- return messages. Fairfax sent a postcard telling my son to call a computer and answer an electronic questionnaire.

Meanwhile he and his wife were forced to live at home while waiting to find the location of his job, which also limited her career, since final decisions had to await the place where they would live.

Your article was a disservice for individuals who are well educated and eager to begin their careers but happen not to be in a very narrow field. All teachers are not in demand; only those in a select few areas, such as math and science and special education, are.

K.B. FORNEY

Gaithersburg

THE TEACHERS LIZA MUNDY SPOKE

with were either elementary or science/computer/math. This is where the shortage is. Frankly, as a humanities teacher, I am tired of hearing of a teacher shortage because one does not exist across the board. I have finally taken a position at a salary considerably less than the average for my area. In the school district where I am employed there is an estimated shortage of 1,600 teachers; however, there was only one position for which I was certified.

The states do not make it easy either. I have contacted Virginia in the past only to be told that my teaching certification was not valid because no reciprocity exists between Pennsylvania and Virginia.

A. JONES

Richboro, Pa.

CHOOSING AND PAYING

LET'S HAVE A PITY PARTY FOR THE

Franklin family ["Amy's Choice," July 25] for trying to provide the very best education for their talented only child with an income at roughly $150,000. Please, give me a break! If an upper-middle-class family is struggling, think of all the families earning less than the Franklins that are trying to send more than one child through college. How do we do it? We do it by student jobs in the summer, a second job for me, a loan against my 401(k) retirement, and student loans. Do we have a pity party for me? No, I do not think so, as my invited guests would be the vast majority of parents in the United States struggling to send children to college on far less than the Franklins.

LINDA HEIKEL

Stafford

AS A TUFTS UNIVERSITY STUDENT ENtering my second year, I read the article with interest, since I recently went through the process myself. I believe the article would have been more helpful to high school seniors, however, if there had been a better analysis of how to balance objective selection criteria relative to a school's academic offerings with personal impressions of the school on the day one happens to visit.

According to the article, Amy's decision process mostly discounted the objective criteria and focused on her impressions. Amy happened to visit Tufts on a cold weekend when one of our college festivals took place. The dispirited atmosphere on campus disappointed her. Amy visited Georgetown on "a crystalline spring day" when the dogwoods were in bloom and "this feeling of spirituality" descended.

Students' college selection frequently boils down to weather, and the people they run into on the college tour. Make the best of college visits, and don't let things like bad weather negatively influence your opinions of the school.

KIRSTEN DALBOE

Reston

IF PAULA SPAN REALLY WANTED TO

drive home the point that the crushing cost of private colleges is forcing many talented teenagers to either take on huge student loan debts or attend state schools, there are probably hundreds of better subjects right here in Washington who come from truly middle-class or working-class backgrounds. Families with annual incomes of $150,000 are the exception, not the rule, even in the affluent Washington area. Not everyone has parents who are partners at big law firms or made millions in some Internet IPO. If The Post truly wants to be relevant to the vast majority of its readers, maybe it should try harder to write with those readers in mind.

DAVID BIDERMAN

Vienna

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