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Calling upon school counselors to address the myriad personal and social problems that our communities have failed to solve may be asking the impossible ("Teen Problems Pose Challenge to Counselors," Sept. 30, 1987). Under current training programs, counselors are not prepared to meet this challenge.

The effort to deal with teen-agers' personal and social problems has caused counselors to move away from their traditional focus on early intervention for the purpose of fostering success in school, and attention to educational and career development.

As a result, Ernest L. Boyer and other educational reformers have suggested that schools and community agencies must form more effective partnerships to address drug abuse, truancy, suicide, and related concerns.

Perhaps the time has come for "retrenchment" of the counselor's role, with a return to an emphasis on working with students in the transition from elementary through postsecondary education and on assisting students with educational and career exploration and the acquisition of the decisionmaking skills critical to such development. The counselor responsible for several hundred students cannot be the community mental-health magician.


Frank Burtnett Executive Director National Association of College Admission Counselors Alexandria, Va.


Three cheers for Diane Ravitch and Chester E. Finn Jr., the authors of What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know? Someone has finally told the truth about the state of humanities in our nation's schools.

As a former New York City high-school teacher of social studies, I know the appalling ignorance of our students and applaud this work as an honest, hard-hitting revelation.

It never ceases to amaze me that within our own ranks we are unable to appreciate the efforts of others to draw attention to our plight. I am referring to Donald Rogan's letter of Oct. 7 attacking this book and its authors ("Clash of Authors Over Use of Data Called 'Surprising'"). Mr. Rogan's contemptuous treatment of the findings of this book reveals a low regard for the field of history.

Mr. Rogan's letter also demonstrates the major shortcoming of the ambiguous subject area called social studies, a field besieged by fads and trendy concepts ever since it forgot its roots in history.

Attitudes like those expressed by Mr. Rogan remind me why I left teaching.


Lorraine Giordano Brooklyn, N.Y.


I write to offer a layman's casual reflections on your article "Foreign-Exchange Snafus Tied to Growth in Host Groups" (Sept. 30, 1987).

I was surprised to learn that a Georgia school could limit the number of foreign students with legal visas in its student body, when Texas schools must admit unlimited numbers of illegal-alien children. I realize that the foreign-exchange students were given visas in the first place under special conditions. Still, there must be something unfair about our system when a mere two students who were in the United States legally had trouble enrolling in a Georgia school, and any number of illegal aliens are freely admitted to school in, say, Brownsville, Tex.

Somehow, this strikes me as not quite right.


Durrett Wagner Evanston, Ill.

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