CHALLENGE INDEX CHALLENGED
WHILE THE ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENdent Schools of Greater Washington applauds Jay Mathews's intention to help our area schools improve ["High School and Beyond," October 24], we object to the methodology he has employed and the conclusions he has drawn. More than anything else, we are averse to a system that "rates" independent schools with little consideration for their individual cultures and missions. Ranking our schools through an extraneous and arbitrary construct misses the point: that our schools are most appropriately judged solely against the educational goals they have identified and have sought to attain. To use some arcane formula ultimately compares one school's apples with another school's oranges for no apparent benefit.
LOIS R. FERRER, RITALOU HARRIS
Association of Independent Schools
of Greater Washington
INFORMATION ON ADVANCED PLACEMENT and International Baccalaureate courses is important information. In isolation, however, it is woefully inadequate to assess how well a school challenges its students. It may be tempting to reduce this task to a one-
dimensional formula. But as each of our students comes to learn, there is no substitute for thorough research and good questions.
LAWRENCE S. CALLAHAN
Archdiocese of Washington
ASTHMA AND KIDS
AFTER READING THE ARTICLE ON CHILDhood asthma ["Breathless," October 31], I was disappointed by the attitude of Kashaye Gladden's physician. A child who is being failed by all of the adults around her is in need of serious intervention. As an African American physician, I know how frustrating it is to treat patients who do not have the experience and educational background to navigate through complex medical treatments and decisions. That is not a good enough reason to give up. I hope that someone will help this child before her next visit to the emergency room becomes her last.
JACQUELINE R. BERRY
I SUSPECT THAT MANY CLINICIANS WERE disturbed, as we were, to see the cover photo that accompanied your otherwise compelling story. The photo propagates a common misunderstanding about how to use an inhaler. The child is sucking on the inhaler, not holding it out and inhaling the aerosol, as would be proper. The use of spacers, low-cost mechanical devices that create a chamber between the inhaler and the patient, markedly improves the delivery of medication and makes the challenging task of using an inhaler properly much easier.
JOHN M. EISENBERG
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
FOLLOWING A VOCATION
MATT MURRAY'S "OUR FATHER" [OCTOBER 31] bothers me greatly. I have little respect for the Rev. James Murray. His entry into monastic life was a cop-out, and caused obvious psychological damage to his son Matt during his critical teenage years.
I find Matt's searching, sensitive and forgiving writing an act of great hope. Matt Murray, the son, is the true hero who, I'll bet, has emerged a far better man than Dad.
MATT MURRAY SHOULD BE GRATEFUL that his father fell into the hands of a relatively benign church structure. Those in crisis fill the ranks of so many fanatic groups offering a unified theory of life and a euphoric sense of belonging.
After centuries of darkness, of bloodshed and repression, the Western church no longer has the power to make war or to stop the progress of human thought. That was a hard-won achievement.
I DON'T UNDERSTAND THE WORLD I live in anymore. Why would a group of adult sportsmen [In the Game, October 31] treat Colin Montgomerie to a barrage of insults while the man was trying to play golf? Who among us would want our father, husband or son to yell expletives at him, safe in the anonymity of a crowd, while he walked off the green? What kind of mob psychology would turn on your reporter, John Feinstein, for taking up for Montgomerie?
Why wouldn't one or more of the American golf stars stand up in front of a battery of microphones and say, "This behavior is wrong. I do not want this kind of people as my fans. I do not want to play in Europe and face the inevitable retribution of this meanness."
Finally, what does the word "sportsmanship" mean in the modern world?
A SCIENTIFIC GOD
JOEL ACHENBACH'S "SEARCHING FOR God" [November 7] is one of the best pieces I have read. One would think, as he says, the fact we live in a galaxy with 100 billion stars within a universe that has tens of billions of such galaxies would stun people into awed silence. Instead they weave fantasies hopeless of ever being proved in anyone's lifetime. At least the stars are there to see. I look forward to reading his book.
DUE TO WHAT I ASSUME WAS A PRODUCtion error, the article that should have followed the title "Searching for God" did not appear in the November 7 issue of your magazine. In its place I found an article on . . . well, it's hard to say, really. Science is boring but important? Scientists give New Agers a pain in their ashram? The author knows David Duchovny? Who knows.
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