A Woman's Place: In The Lab

Our June 21 article "Science for Girls Only," about the new Girls' Middle School in Silicon Valley, elicited strong opinions from both sides of the single-sex education debate. To one woman, GMS sounded like "a positive and enriching experience." A male reader slyly suggested that those who favor single-sex schools might also support "getting the gals out of The Citadel." Some letter-writers believed an all-female setting was unnecessary for girls to achieve success. "For me, the critical piece is what you learn, not with whom you learn it," declared one self-proclaimed science nerd, who told us she "happens to have a female body plan."

The Elephant King

After witnessing one scandal after another in the Clinton administration, and watching our statuelike vice president proclaim that Clinton "will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest presidents," the American people can't wait to elect the dynamic, progressive and successful governor of Texas as our next president ("Here Comes the Son," National Affairs, June 21). They know that he will be a great president who will not only lead us into the 21st century but will also restore morality, honesty and dignity to the office of the president and the White House.
David Richard Tyson
Huntington, W.Va.

Young Bush has the media's nomination as the Republican candidate before all the others have even thrown their hats into the overcrowded elephant cage. Have you picked "W" because he provides the best human-interest story? Putting him on the cover ignores the strong field of other candidates, including John McCain and Dan Quayle. Bush has shown us nothing except a strikingly similar appearance to his father during a photo op. All his political involvement heretofore has been in local Texas government. Unlike the candidates who served in the Senate, he has no foreign-policy track record. I'm 17, and George W. may, in fact, be the candidate I support when I pull the lever in my first vote, but crowning him king so early undermines the primary system.
David J. Weissmann
Fair Lawn, N.J.

I believe NEWSWEEK's interview with George W. Bush was rude, if not antagonistic. Three of the 11 questions press Bush, in an accusatory way, about his wealthy upbringing. Should Bush feel guilty about being born into an affluent family? I don't think so. Maybe we're better off with wealthy politicians who won't be as susceptible to campaign contributions from questionable sources.
Paul W. Murphy
Whitestone, N.Y.

In his June 21 column about the GOP, Jonathan Alter describes the Republican blockage of James Hormel's nomination as ambassador to Luxembourg as "breathtakingly bigoted" ("The Greatest Expectation," Between the Lines). Perhaps this accurately describes some Republicans. However, others may be playing politics, while still others may be honestly representing the views of their constituents. There are many Americans who believe that homosexuality is wrong, and whether or not one agrees with this view (I do not), some of the world's major religions teach this very concept. The stubborn fact remains that the right to religious belief is still a part of this country. By painting all Republicans with the same broad brush, Alter engages in stereotyping that would be unacceptable if leveled at any other group.
Steve Arnold
Limerick, Pa.

Giving Dads Their Due

Many of us can identify with Kaitlin Murphy's grateful tribute to her father in the June 21 My Turn, "An Overdue 'Thank You' to My Dad," but some of us did wait too long to say thanks. My dad died 21 years ago, unexpectedly, at the age of 64. He, too, raised a large family: four biological daughters and a slew of our friends, who cherished his warmth and wicked sense of humor. He always made time for us in his busy life as a county administrator and took us each in turn to business dinners and on fishing trips and vacations. One of his favorite sayings was "The best gift a man can give his children is to love their mother." And love our mother he did. Since he is gone, and I can't tell him on Father's Day how much he always meant to me, I have to say, "Thanks, Mom, for marrying a wonderful man, so we could have a wonderful father!"
Laura Strathman Hulka
Waverly, Tenn.

I just put down your June 21 issue and wiped a little moisture from my eyes after reading Kaitlin Murphy's my turn. I, too, have been blessed with two beautiful children, who have given much joy to my life and made me a better man. With all the bad news we see and hear in the media today, it is refreshing to come across an article that brings only warm feelings of peace--although, perhaps, like many fathers who saw this story, I wished after reading it that I had been half the father to my children that Murphy's was to his.
Floyd Gibson
Wyoming, Ontario

Soccer It to Mia

It's awesome the way Mia Hamm was profiled in your article "Keeping Her Own Score," (Society, June 21). She is surely a superstar, proven by her amazing abilities, attitude and motivations. Soccer has been a part of my life for 14 of my 19 years, and Mia has been my inspiration. NEWSWEEK, keep up the great work!
Jane Curtis
Lexington, Ky.

Melanoma and the Eye

Your article on Melanoma, "Beware the Unruly Sun," (Focus on Your Health, June 21), was very informative. I would like to add something about melanoma that I learned the hard way. Ocular melanoma is a form of skin cancer not mentioned very often, in part because it is so rare. But melanoma can form in the eye. My mother was diagnosed with ocular melanoma in 1986 after noticing a decrease in her peripheral vision. She died seven years later when the cancer returned in her spine and rapidly spread to her liver. The skin cancer that killed her was never visible on her skin. Genetic in origin, ocular cancer cannot be prevented, but regular exams by an ophthalmologist, especially if this disease runs in your family, can help diagnose it at an early, and possibly treatable, stage.
Eve Medellin
Gonzales, Texas

Boys Need Not Apply

I was thrilled to read your article on the new Silicon Valley Girls' Middle School ("Science for Girls Only," Society, June 21). I remember all too well my frustration at being one of just a handful of females in my high-school AP physics class. It was a primary consideration in my decision to attend Saint Mary's College, a Roman Catholic women's college in Notre Dame, Ind. There I majored in chemistry, which I'm sure would not have happened had I gone to a coed institution. I spent four years doing what women's colleges encourage: actively participating in my classes and in leadership roles. True, this was not a real-world situation. Yet I went to work in research labs staffed predominantly by men, and I now attend a prestigious medical school. I am able to hold my own with both the men and the women I encounter. When I look back at the shy, fragile girl that I was in my AP physics class, and the confident, assured woman I am now, I thank my women's-college education.
Susan A. Sufka
Durham, N.C.

Your article "Science for Girls Only" told just half the story. While you focused on the fact that girls lag behind in math SAT scores, you conveniently overlooked the fact that boys often lag behind in verbal skills. Why not "English for Boys Only"? I am convinced that single-sex education works better for both sexes in all subjects. Only those who place political correctness before education refuse to recognize that coeducation is a major distraction during adolescence. The sooner we accept this, the better off our children will be.
John K. Dirlam Jr.
Wellesley Hills, Mass.

After reading your article on the new Girls' Middle School, I take umbrage at the reason given for creating this single-sex institution. Your story says that once they reach middle school, many girls "hit the wall of femininity" and start to avoid science and math. Although there are undoubtedly some girls who spend all their time thinking about what will make them popular and what won't, I know this is not the way all girls react when they reach middle school. As a middle-school student taking a high-school science course and doing quite well, I am not worried about what other people think of me just because I like science. Your article seems to say that in order to succeed in science, most girls need to attend special all-girls schools where they won't feel peer pressure from guys. But peer pressure can come from girls as well. On behalf of all the girls like me who take advanced courses in science, thanks but no thanks to Girls' Middle School. I can succeed in a school with guys, and I'm not planning on hitting the dreaded "wall of femininity" any time soon.
Katie Stone
East Aurora, N.Y.

Is 'Tarzan' Traumatic for Tots?

My husband and I recently took our 4-year-old son to see Disney's G-rated version of "Tarzan," which you gave a rave review ("Hollywood's New Swinger," Arts & Entertainment, June 21). Hello? Did we see the same movie? Sure, the animation and voices were superb, but let's think about the story and the rating. After Tarzan's parents escape a wildly burning ship, we see their lifeless bodies (with bloody paw prints to indicate a tiger had done the dirty deed). Tarzan's adoptive gorilla father is shot and killed, Tarzan knifes a tiger to death and his human opponent Clayton is seen dead by hanging (albeit in shadow). Yes, this is exactly the "entertainment" I want my young children to view. Walt Disney would be rolling over in his grave if he could see this movie!
Beth Toland
Cary, N.C.

A Whale of a Tattoo

Sorry, guys, the "What's Cool" section of your June 21 periscope page on tattoos incorrectly identifies a Northwest Coast Native American image of a killer whale as a "Polynesian" image. The Polynesians were mighty paddlers, but I'm pretty sure they never made it up to the Northwest. It's too cold and rainy up here for them anyway.
Byron Katsuyama
Kirkland, Wash.

Now, the Moral Minority

As a conservative Christian, I was glad to read your article "Taxing Times for Robertson," (National Affairs, June 21), on the weakening of Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. Any group, Protestant or Catholic, that sanctimoniously seeks to legislate morality is impinging on everyone's liberties. Just think how pleased Robertson and Tom DeLay must be about House passage of legislation to display the Ten Commandments in public schools.
Eric Youngberg
Seattle, Wash.


In a chart accompanying our June 28 story on gun control, "Caught in the Cross-Fire" (News of the Week), the numerical values on its vertical axis should have ranged from 0 to 40,000, not 4,000. And the graph line itself reflects total firearm-related deaths in the United States from 1962 to 1996, not deaths per 100,000. If the graph had been adjusted for population growth, its shape would have been much flatter.

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