Linda Perlstein's May 31 front-page story, "School Pushes Reading, Writing, Reform," expressed the feelings of many Montgomery County teachers. The No Child Left Behind Act has reduced reading to a spreadsheet of test scores and eliminated the word "creativity" from the educational lexicon.

The desire to improve the reading performance of children has always been a top priority of Montgomery's teachers. Before the Bush administration decided to turn the public school system into an assembly plant, our schools were having success with a well-organized primary reading program called Reading Initiative.

The federal mandate to improve performance has only improved the use of databases and funded one-size-fits-all reading programs such as Nation's Choice. The public also needs to remember that the model for the No Child Left Behind Act, the Houston Independent School District, was successful only because top administrators manipulated the data.

Educators know that teaching is an art, not a science. If this trend continues, data-entry clerks will replace the artists in the school system, children will become the sum of their PalmPilots, and every parent will be able to tape a multicolored spreadsheet to the refrigerator door.

FRANK SANFORD

Chevy Chase

The writer has been a reading specialist for the Montgomery County Public Schools for more than 20 years.