Editor: The recent controversy involving presidential candidate Bill Clinton is nothing more than an under-handed attempt to discredit a man who has a great plan for America. For the national news media to give any credence at all to this story is appalling, knowing the reputation of the Star, the newspaper in which the story first appeared. Gennifer Flowers was monetarily compensated for her accusation, which is full of discrepancies. To accept her story as fact is doing a grave injustice to a fine man.
Rumors of adulterous affairs should not be used as criteria for electing a president of the United States. If so, than men such as Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Kennedy would never have occupied the White House.
Besides, who really cares if Governor Clinton did have an extramarital affair in the past? This is a private matter between Bill Clinton and his wife. We, as Americans, should not expect our presidents to be perfect. They are human beings, with frailties and weaknesses like the rest of us. Democracy is the real loser when Americans start judging political candidates solely on how they live their private lives rather than where they stand on the issues.
Americans who desperately need a job could care less about a presidential candidate's private life. What concerns them is how that candidate, as president, will solve America's unemployment problem.
Thomas F. Cotter.
Editor: Charles Serio's letter ("Abortion Trauma," Jan. 28) accuses me of failure to get the facts straight. The failure is Mr. Serio's. He quotes bogus statistics from a counterfeit report and then falsely claims these "facts" come from Planned Parenthood.
After reviewing more than 250 studies of the psychological outcomes of abortion, former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop concluded that there is no reliable research to support the contention that abortion is dangerous to a woman's mental health.
An expert panel of the American Psychiatric Association unanimously concluded that "legal abortion, particularly in the first trimester, does not create psychological hazards for most women."
In arguing otherwise, Mr. Serio quotes what he claims is a Planned Parenthood report. In fact, he quotes from a forged document perpetrated by anti-choice extremists.
Planned Parenthood's general counsel has demanded that the so-called "National Right to Life Committee" cease and desist from distributing or publishing this false and defamatory document.
The writer is president of Planned Parenthood of Maryland.
And Pigs Fly
Editor: Am I the only one less concerned with Bill Clinton's relationship with Gennifer Flowers while she was an employee of the state of Arkansas than with George Bush's relationship with Manuel Noriega while he was an employee of the CIA?
On the one hand we have Mr. Clinton approving the lethal injection of a retarded African American convicted of murder, his support of parental notification and his denial of Medicaid abortions to poor women, and on the other hand Mr. Bush telling the American people (with a straight face before a gutless Mike ** Dukakis) that he didn't know Noriega was dealing in drugs until after he was indicted. Sure. And pigs fly!
Both Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush have no real plans for national health insurance. Instead of a single-payer, state-administered, comprehensive system, they still believe that private insurance run by over a thousand profiteering companies will provide coverage for us all.
Thus once again in November we will have a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Gerald B. Shargel.
Monitor Local Officials!
Editor: Perhaps it's because I grew up in Nebraska. I know we do things differently there. But since moving to Baltimore five years ago, I continue to be stunned at how The Sun totally ignores the city's congressional and state legislative delegations.
Thanks to a recent issue of The Sun, I know how a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Postal Service from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, feels about the president's economic recovery plan -- but I haven't a clue as to how our elected representatives feel. An article on the governor's budget quoted state legislators from Montgomery and Prince George's counties -- but not one word from anyone representing the Baltimore metropolitan area.
Having been a staff worker in Congress and three state legislatures for the last 20 years, I understand you may be concerned that legislators' news tends to be free publicity for incumbents. But no news destroys the ability of the public to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions and inactions. In that effort, it's essential that we monitor all three branches of government and not just hang on every word and sneeze of the president, governor and mayor.
America faces tough times. We need to hold all of our institutions -- government especially -- accountable. The press needs to do its part, too, to help us make the important decisions about our future at local, state and national levels.
Gender Equity in Schools
Editor: If gender equity has been achieved, why do girls start out ahead of boys in elementary school but lag far behind in achievement and challenging courses by the time they graduate from high school?
Why do girls drop out of science and math classes at a greater rate than boys?
Why do females continue to be outscored by males on both the verbal and math sections of the SAT?
The recent American Association of University Women report, "How Schools Shortchange Girls," is a landmark study. Analyzing over 1,000 research studies and articles on girls and education, it documents dramatically the inequities which girls continue to face in schools on a daily basis.
The report is important because it forces us to question whether the progress of adult women over the past two decades may have lulled us into believing that gender equity has been achieved. (In this regard, Diane Ravitch of the U.S. Department of Education stated recently that federally funded programs aimed at promoting gender-equity in schools are no longer needed.)
It is true that the 1972 enactment of Title IX legislation banning sex discrimination in federally funded education programs gave females the right to equal education.
However, the AAUW report illustrates that laws are slow to change the attitudes and expectations which give girls subtle, negative messages about self-worth and life goals.
The report relates these discouraging findings to the fact that boys receive significantly more teacher attention and interaction; that girls find fewer role models in math and science; that they receive less support for challenge and risk-taking and fewer opportunities for leadership.
As the head of a school for girls, I was surprised that the 40 recommendations in the report made almost no mention of the successful record of girls' schools in the education of young women.
A recent survey showed that 25 percent of girls' school graduates intend to pursue careers in math, science or engineering -- more than four times the national average. Women in Who's Who publications are 2 1/2 times more likely to have graduated from a single-sex institution. A study of Catholic girls' schools found that these girls took more challenging courses and had higher goals than their counterparts in coed schools.
There is nothing magical about girls' schools, except that they do not have to remediate their environments to make them equitable, as coed schools do. Girls' schools move beyond equity, creating communities where support is a given and high achievement is the norm, where positive role-models abound and where girls' daily experiences reinforce self-confidence.
The issue of gender equity in our schools will not go away. It shouldn't until all our students receive the finest education possible.
Elsa M. Bowman. Owings Mills.
The writer is headmistress of Garrison Forest School.