I want William Raspberry and his readers to know that many black adults do not see the problem of children failing in our schools as "outside ourselves" ["Children Caught in a Deadly Drift," op-ed, Dec. 16].

Rather than "standing along the bank" watching children "drifting downstream toward a deadly waterfall," many of us are putting our hands in that stream to try to pull children up and out.

As Mr. Raspberry noted, many black educators work hard with children every day. But most children in inner-city schools need much more. Through Experience Corps, which places adults age 55 and older in elementary schools, we are tutoring and mentoring those who need it most -- those who have not learned to read, do not know how to study, do not believe they can achieve in school or life, or have never had consistent attention from a caring adult. In the District, the racial mix of volunteers mirrors that of our population: about 70 percent African American.

Our program is one of 15 around the country that mobilize older adults as tutors, mentors and advocates for at-risk students. More than 100 D.C. volunteers, one-third of whom are AmeriCorps members, serve in schools in all quadrants of the city. Our planned expansion will give hundreds more the opportunity to serve.

EUGENE N. HAMILTON

Chairman

Advisory Council for Experience Corps

Washington