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Ronald J. Cook Superintendent of Schools Diocese of Grand Rapids Grand Rapids, Mich.

The flap in Girard, Pa., over the mandatory use of Studs Terkel's book Working reveals an interesting irony: the use of "academic freedom'' as a lever to force students to study a book they find morally objectionable. Perhaps the decade-long movement toward individualized instruction has not yet reached Girard High School.

Required reading material is different from other reading in two important ways: (1) it is common to all students, and (2) it is used in testing. D.C. Heath once said, "Let me publish the textbooks of a nation, and I care not who writes its songs or makes its laws."

Paul Robinson College of Education University of Arizona Tucson, Ariz.

Alfred T. Vogel's "Confronting the Abrasive Questioning of the Radical Reformers" (Commentary, Feb. 10) consisted of two entirely unrelated yet juxtaposed essays. The essay related to the title is to be found in the eighth through the 12th paragraphs. It is an unfounded and trivial attack on the Romantic critics (who certainly can, and have been, criticized for important reasons). The main impression left by it is that no one who has not had a thorough grounding in chemistry, physics, and biology should be concerned about environmental pollution.

Wrapped around that unfortunate little essay is a nicely thought out and balanced examination of what should lie "beyond the basics" movement.

How the two became intertwined escapes me.

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