The recent article by Joe Pettit entitled, "Achievement gap: It's still about race" (Feb. 24) misses a much larger picture.

It has been nearly 50 years since President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society." In 1964 two important pieces of legislation were passed. First, the Civil Rights Act banned discrimination based on race and gender in employment and ended segregation in all public facilities. Second, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 attacked the roots of American poverty. Head Start, a preschool program designed to help disadvantaged students, was put into place. Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) was set up as a domestic Peace Corps so schools in impoverished American regions would receive volunteer teaching attention.

Trillions of dollars of federal funds have been spent since 1964 to combat illiteracy and wage war on poverty. In spite of all these efforts, not much has improved.

Mr. Pettit raises the question as to why there is such a difference in educational outcomes between whites and blacks. The major reason is that 70 percent of the children in black community are born out of wedlock. There is no father figure to discipline and guide these children. Where are the black leaders to address and face this major issue? It is always easy for black leadership to blame the whites and use the word "racist" instead of solving the problems within the black community.

We can spend several more trillion dollars in the next several decades but if the black leadership does not solve their own problems, attacking whites is not going to do any good.

Bharat B. Agrawal, Mount Airy