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With the demise of the Gesell Institute of Human Development possibly imminent, I am deeply concerned about the limited options for young children ("Gesell Institute Is Facing Uncertain Future in Wake of Budget Woes, Testing Questions," Oct. 25, 1989).

My experience in two school systems is convincing--the "gift of time" is needed by many children.

We never relied on just one test score, and placement was made with parents as full partners in the decision.

Dozens of parents will attest to the value of the transition class; children who needed little more than time entered 1st grade at the top of their class and did not have to struggle with expectations beyond their developmental readiness.

Those who advocate changing 1st grade rather than providing transition expect miracles.

Realistically, if schools were what they should be, transition classes would never have emerged.

What alternative exists for children who are not ready for 1st-grade classes where instruc8tional practices are based on considerations other than children's developmental needs?

It will be tragic if a decline in Gesell Institute services results in a negative outlook on the concept of the "gift of time."

Martha Barton
Assistant Superintendent
Department of Education
Montgomery, Ala.

Your report that the U.S. Education Department inaccurately calculated Michigan's 1986-87 graduation rate in our annual State4Education Performance Chart was wrong (Federal File, Oct. 25, 1989).

The source of the incorrect data used in the "wall chart" was the Michigan education department.

After we released Michigan's graduation rate last May, state officials determined that their figures were wrong. The state has since provided us with better data.

We're pleased that Michigan's revised figures result in a graduation rate higher than that originally reported. But the faulty numbers did not result from federal miscalculation.

Charles E.M. Kolb
Deputy Undersecretary
U.S. Education Department
Washington, D.C.

I see that the Coca-Cola Foundation is going to give $50 million to educational institutions ("Coca-Cola Joins Growing List of Education Benefactors," Nov. 15, 1989).

The corporation's conscience must be hurting it.

It sells a product that is 500 times overpriced--a product that is mostly water, some flavoring, and some seltzer.

I hope that Coca-Cola donates the money in the name of all the people who buy the soft drink.

After all, if its product were not overpriced, the company could hardly give $50 million.

John Elder
Somerset, Pa.

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