Editor: In New York, a subway motorman, who allegedly had twice the legal level of alcohol in his blood, was responsible for a train crash that killed five people. After police searched the operator's compartment, they found an empty crack cocaine vial.
Legislation should be passed that would require mandatory drug and alcohol testing for employees in safety-sensitive positions in mass transit systems across the United States.
A5 Personal liberty ends where public safety begins.
Editor: Have O. James Lighthizer and Gov. William Donald Schaefer, comfortable with fat pay increases for 1991, forgotten their roots of democracy and the First Amendment rights they both swore to uphold? I am appalled by their responses to expressions of free speech from two state workers who valiantly indicated that forced work without pay is tantamount to slavery. Is agreement with the boss' boss and one's "ultimate boss"(the governor) a requirement for worry-free employment?
Coup Klutz Clan
Editor: Would it not be both "politically correct" and "prudent" to refer to the Communist hard-liners' attempt to displace Mikhail Gorbachev as the Coup Klutz Clan?
James L. Smith
Declining SAT Scores
Editor: Recent newspaper reports have indicated a state of "alarm" experienced by politicians in particular, education administrators and numerous other persons. The cause of alarm was the reported decrease in the Scholastic Aptitude Test scores made by recent high school graduates.
No one, however, so far as I have been able to discern, has taken the slightest responsibility for having brought about this decrease or for doing anything about it except to cry havoc and wring their hands.
If you ask any classroom teacher in America to account for this decrease, I think you will learn that there's a very specific reason. These unlearned high school "graduates" are the victims of a politically engineered, administrative decision made when they were in elementary school, a decision that every elementary classroom teacher predicted would bring about exactly such consequences.
Children require various amounts of individual support and attention from their teachers in order to learn. When one particular child in a classroom demands a disproportionate amount, some 30 percent to 50 percent, of the teacher's time, all the other children in the classroom suffer. When there is one or more such needy children in just about every class, than all the children, including those needy ones, suffer.
The decrease in SAT scores is not so much due to instruction at the high school level but to inadequate preparation at the elementary school level, inadequacy that has been forced upon the students and the classroom teacher by the so-called principle of "mainstreaming".
The Sun report noted the "elite" 20 percent of students whose scores were much higher than average.
Isn't it entirely obvious that no school -- Gilman, Park, Notre Dame, etc. -- that takes pride in its academic accomplishments would for a moment tolerate penalizing 20 students in a classroom for the sake of one child?
And would not any school for children who need special attention and instruction protect that child from feelings of failure and inadequacy by providing that special attention from specially trained teachers, rather than dumping such a child willy-nilly into a competitive situation in which they are bound to suffer?
I fully realize that special education is a costly investment. But is it not worth our tax dollars to enable the needy child to learn at his or her pace and to avoid disabling the more competent child to the level of the needy one?
Editor: On Aug. 24, I received my September 1991 edition of the American Legion Magazine. It is a commemorative issue dedicated to World War II. It is very well done and certainly worth keeping. Since this is the 50th anniversary of the start of World War II, there will be many other events dedicated to that war as the year progresses.
On page 39 of the magazine it states that 292,131 Americans lost their lives over a period of three years, nine months and 22 days of warfare.
As a youngster growing up during World War II, I knew and mourned several of those people. As a young airman, who enlisted and served on active duty during the Korean War, I also knew and mourned several people who lost their lives. the Korean conflict claimed roughly 56,000 lives.
On Aug. 25, while perusing some literature from the Office on Smoking and Health, it stated that 434,000 Americans lose their lives every year due to smoking tobacco.
This is more lives than were lost during the entire duration of World War II and roughly eight times as many lives than were lost in Korea. I knew and mourned for many of those tobacco victims which included my father and my best friend.
Although I completely support honoring our war dead, I find great irony in the fact that we honor those lives lost in combat while we ignore those lives lost to the tobacco industry. Perhaps we should construct a monument to our nation's tobacco victims in Washington and have the tobacco companies pay for it from their enormous profits.
John H. O'Hara.
Abortion and Public Opinion
Editor: One of the great strengths of the United States is the principle of separation of church and state. Like freedom and the two-party system, we must not let others erode these strengths for selfish ends.
dTC The anti-abortion forces have failed to convince the rest of us of the logic or merit of their view. Not content with bombing and picketing legally operated clinics, these zealots now resort to passing laws that jam their religious views down our throats.
The recent demonstrations in Wichita are repulsive but, perversely, I hope these fanatics keep it up. What better proof of their moral poverty?
:. In the end, all despots defeat themselves.
Charles Poyer Jr.
Editor: Karen B. Lane, in her Aug. 29 letter, took exception to the use of the word "convenience" to describe abortions not performed for rape, incest or threatened life of either the mother of the unborn child. She pointed out that convenience cannot adequately describe "the human agonies over abortion."
I agree that most people agonize over the decision of whether to abort or allow their unborn child to continue to live. And why such agony? Certainly not over the discarding of a lump of tissue. It's because a human life is at stake.
Abortion is the premeditated destruction of a living human being. And no situation, including pregnant 15-year-olds whose boyfriends don't want to get involved and 19-year-olds on welfare with three children already abused, can justify the killing of an innocent human being.
Kevin M. Powderly.
Editor: In your editorial, "Why Wichita Is Not Selma," you hit the nail on the head about the confused perceptions of public support or rejection of abortion. You stated that "most Americans today favor abortion at least under some circumstances."
Numerous polls have shown that most Americans support abortions to end "tough pregnancies" caused by rape, incest or when the mother's life is in extreme danger.
The same polls also show that the same Americans reject abortion when used repeatedly, as a convenient birth control method, for sex selection, to reduce an economic hardship, and especially when performed during the seventh to ninth months of pregnancy.