Articles by Dorothy Gilliam {Metro, Nov. 19} and Franklyn G. Jenifer {op-ed, Nov. 19} that offered Afrocentric education as a solution for the abysmal performance of students in our public schools missed the point. Like it or not, technology and transfer of information are the underpinnings of most occupations in modern society. These demand skills in mathematics and science and in written and oral communication using the English language.

I agree that education isn't just mathematics, science and English. The teaching of history and social studies should include more emphasis on the history, ethical systems and cultures of non-Western civilizations. But the bottom line for finding a successful place for students in our society must be an emphasis on intellectual rigor and hard work in the learning of mathematics and of written and spoken English.

I am sure Gilliam and Jenifer got where they are because they received -- and their parents and teachers insisted they receive -- such an education.

-- David S. Zee

Franklyn G. Jenifer's generally persuasive argument about the validity of Afrocentric education was weakened by his ascribing an assumption of cultural superiority to "an education that views the European heritage as central." European heritage is central simply because Europe is the most statistically significant source of common American culture.

Specialized cultural emphasis is always an option for school systems with large ethnic enrollment. The core cultural curriculum must remain generic, however, for students to succeed in mainstream society.

Cultural pride in multi-ethnic societies is constructive when it helps eradicate perceptions of inferiority; it becomes destructive and divisive, however, when it overcompensates by asserting ethnic superiority.

-- Mark K. Davis