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To the Editor:

In your March 3, 1993, issue, you reported on the Washington State legislature's actions on a proposed school-reform plan ("Scaled-Back Reform Measure Advances in Washington State''). Although the article was informative, we would like to clarify at least one area.

With regard to your observation that "bill sponsors hope to placate them [private schools] by emphasizing that the reforms would apply only to the public school system,'' perhaps it should be noted that our federation of independent schools (representing nearly two-thirds of the state's private school enrollment) specifically requested that private schools be allowed to participate on a voluntary basis.

As important, we note Education Week's unfortunate perception of a we-they dichotomy in views on the state's education-reform agenda. The Washington Federation of Independent Schools sees the role of private schools as partners in the privilege of educating the children of our state. It's time to ease our perceptions as adversaries and replace them with a commitment to cooperate and collaborate as often as possible.

Stephen Dinger
Washington Federation of Independent Schools
Tacoma, Wash.

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to your article on the Adolescent Family Life Act and its role in abstinence education ("Congress May Abolish 'Chastity Act,' Some Predict,'' March 24, 1993).

While I agree with almost everything in the article, I did not use the phrase "religious tools.'' I said, "Abstinence is an important component of the effort to curb teenage pregnancy, but we may have done ourselves a disservice by supporting programs which set us up to be perceived as tools of a religious or moralistic agenda, rather than as a perfectly reasonable response to the problem with strong public-health and social-science underpinnings.''

I know I can be long-winded, and I respect reporters' needs to trim quotations, but by publishing a condensed version of what I said, you distorted the meaning, and the use of a direct quote compounded the problem. "Religious tools'' is both ambiguous and awkward, and I did not say that.

Jerry Bennett
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Population Affairs
U.S. Health and Human Services Department
Washington, D.C.

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