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The Gates Effect

Regarding "Teachers' Pest" (Features, July 19-July 25): In New York City, we have made phasing out large, underperforming schools and replacing them with smaller, mission-driven schools a central piece of our reform agenda.

A rigorous and comprehensive study recently released by the independent research group MDRC shows that students in our new small schools were more likely to be on track to graduation in their first year of high school, and to stay on track, compared with students in other high schools. The study also showed that our small schools are working particularly well for students from traditionally disadvantaged groups, including black and Hispanic students, special education students, students learning English, and students entering high school with low performance levels. This progress came in no small part thanks to the crucial funding and support the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation provided.

Joel I. Klein, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education

No Way to Retire

I was appalled by the arrogance of Teresa Ghilarducci ("I'll Say It Again: Dump the 401(k)," Focus on Retirement, July 19-July 25). Her piece is basically advocating another brand of Obama socialism. Who in their right mind would want to enroll in a retirement plan whose income comes from the soon-to-be-worthless U.S. Treasury bonds?

Justin P. Yagoobian, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Washington and the Big Spill

In response to "The Lost Summer" (Features, July 12-July 18): BP was committed to making people whole until Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar put his boot on their neck, Obama went searching for an ass to kick, and Attorney General Eric Holder threatened their executives with jail. With the best intentions ignored and smashed, any incentive to do what is right has been killed. And that message has been telegraphed to thousands of other CEOs.

Ed Gabrielse, St. Charles, Ill.

Reviving U.S. Employment

The article by Andy Grove, "How to Make an American Job" (Features, July 5-July 11), was excellent. One major factor in pushing jobs overseas is that we have some of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Many developing countries eager for jobs and knowhow are offering much lower rates that are often effectively zero. If anything, corporate taxes should be done away with. Just as all companies are ultimately owned by individuals, all company taxes are ultimately paid by individuals. Let the individual tax code be the primary way to collect and redistribute income, and we will do a much better job retaining our golden geese.

Chris Waldorf, Seattle

Grove's analysis of what it takes to create a tech job was trenchant. But putting all the other details aside, costs drive decisions regarding where commoditized products are made. If America wants manufacturing jobs, either high-tech or low, removing impediments to productivity is what's needed. An example of what happens when productivity gets too low is the nearly complete loss of agricultural jobs in my own state in recent decades. Lanai, nicknamed the Pineapple Isle, grows no pineapples anymore: The high cost of unionized farm labor in Hawaii coupled with the union-protectionist Jones Act (making shipping costs prohibitive) ended large-scale farming on Lanai and nearly everywhere else in Hawaii.

Michael P. Rethman, Kaneohe, Hawaii

The Peterson Crusade Refined

"Spending Big to Stop Big Spending" (Politics&Policy, July 5-July 11) incorrectly implies that Pete Peterson opposes the potential extension of unemployment benefits. The Peter G. Peterson Foundation does not endorse or oppose specific legislation, although we do believe that unemployment insurance is critically important for American families especially during a recession. The article was also inaccurate in its suggestion that Mr. Peterson applauded the failure of President Obama at the Group of 20 meeting to "persuade his European counterparts...to maintain economic stimulus programs." Pete and the Foundation strongly believe that short-term economic stimulus to help create jobs and spur growth can and should go hand-in-hand with the development of a plan to address America's long-term structural deficits.

Loretta Ucelli, Vice-President of Communications and Public Affairs, Peter G. Peterson Foundation

A Scary School of Thought

Many of these behavioral economists ("A Beachhead for the Behavioralists," Politics&Policy, June 28-July 4) are frightening! Perhaps some people really believe government should run everything, but, hopefully, reason will prevail, and these behavioral economists will be shown the door. Maybe they can get jobs in Venezuela or Cuba.

John O'Sullivan, South Plainfield, N.J.


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