Patrick Welsh, in discussing a high school dress code, indulges in stereotypes and sweeping generalizations that have puzzled and angered many students from the racially, ethnically and economically diverse high school where he teaches English {"The Children of Poverty Are Not Wearing the Torn Jeans," Close to Home, Nov. 1}.

In his observations, Welsh is rather amused by wealthy and intellectual young people who are unpredictable about what clothes they buy and wear and by the charming and humorous honors student who had fun with the traditional sartorial image of a homecoming king. But he is disturbed by low-income black students who work long hours at the expense of their education and sell drugs to buy fancy clothes.

As a parent of two black teen-age daughters at T. C. Williams, I can assure Welsh that they and their black friends have the same amusing and frustrating characteristics as any of the white students or, for that matter, any of the hundreds of international students who attend T. C.

Further, Welsh ought to know that the high school drug culture knows no racial, ethnic or economic boundaries and that black citizens in this country are far greater victims of this drug culture than they are perpetrators or financial beneficiaries of it. Punctuating his discussion with a quotation from a concerned black student does not necessarily help us to understand the issue more clearly.

High school may be the last formative opportunity many students have to relate to their peers in an environment that examines and exposes racial and economic stereotypes. We need teachers who help students understand and respect each other as individuals and come to grips with the deeper value-forming issues of our society. Welsh chose to be a teacher in this particular high school. His insight into the vast literary resources of Western civilization and his devotion to the traditions of humanistic education should equip him to achieve these goals.

Fortunately, many students at T. C. Williams have the insight to know that something is wrong with Welsh's perception of this issue of a dress code. I hope that he and other teachers and administrators will help them to think it through. -- Susan Weber

Let's get the facts straight. I am also a teacher at T. C. Williams High School, and I found the article by Patrick Welsh inaccurate and extremely offensive. Welsh stated that he was disturbed by a "fashion phenomenon": "Black students who live in government-subsidized housing and whose families are so destitute that the children get free lunches and school books are spending astonishing amounts of money 'to look good.' "

Welsh continued to sensationalize the issue by quoting one black student (the only quotation in his article), who said that "a lot of guys are hustling drugs to buy all these clothes. . . . Some {girls} sleep with the drug dealers so they'll buy them things."

I have to question Welsh's motivation and his purpose for selecting such a misleading quote. Such statements grossly misrepresent the reality at T. C. Williams. They also fuel the false assumption on the part of some whites that if a white student is dressed nicely, the student's family must have money, but if a black student dresses well, he must be into hustling.

My objection to Welsh's article is not so much that what he said was untrue, but rather that it is true for so few students at our school. He makes no mention of the vast majority of our students who are good kids, who work hard, dress in normal everyday clothes and are trying to make it in a very difficult world. Welsh makes racist and erroneous implications about the integrity and morals of our black students. For many years now, T. C. Williams has been fighting a false and negative image that has been perpetuated by ignorance and racism. Welsh's article only feeds into the myths upon which this image is based. -- Nancy Lyall

Patrick Welsh's article portrayed black students at T. C. Williams in a false and misleading light. It suggested that a large percentage of the black students are poverty-stricken and have misplaced values. The fact is that blacks students attending T. C. Williams are similar in their approach to high school academics and dress to high school students anywhere.

The article only served to polarize the various racial and ethnic groups attending the school. One of the positive aspects of a student's life at this school is the diverse and multifaceted ethnic and cultural composition of the student body. This diversity should be viewed as an opportunity to interact with others from different backgrounds, and not seized upon to scrutinize one group over another.

There is no "fashion phenomenon" among the black students at T. C. Williams. -- Gloria Davidson is the sponsor of the Black Cultural Alliance at T. C. Williams High School. She wrote this on behalf of the students in the club.