Imagine our surprise to open the December 1-8 issue and to see the photo of our son pictured as a part of your cover story on America's Best Leaders, representing our military's junior officers ["A Wisdom Forged by War"]. Then Lt. (now Capt.) Christopher Crofford (82nd Airborne, infantry) was deployed to Iraq, along with his wife, Capt. Erin Crofford (82nd Airborne, medical service corps) for a 15-month tour in January 2007. This young couple sacrificed greatly to serve our nation. By our count, our son's life was gravely threatened on at least four separate occasions. However, as your article pointed out, despite the many obstacles the junior officers encountered in trying to help re-establish the peace and security in Baghdad as part of the surge, they were ultimately successful. While grateful for the tremendous training Captain Crofford received prior to deployment, I cannot imagine the pressure and challenges that were placed on his 24-year-old shoulders. Adm. Mike Mullen's assessment was correct. We owe these young officers not only our attention and our time, but also our gratitude.
The Rev. David and Cindy Crofford, Cincinnati
I was very impressed with your profile of Freeman Hrabowski and the work he has done at the University of Maryland ["Inspiring the Pursuit of Math and Science"]. I work with one of Hrabowski's former students, and if he is representative of the caliber of individuals that Hrabowski influences, our country has much to be proud of.
Gary Westman, Anderson, Ind.
Though the Bible or prayer were mentioned in some statements, I was disappointed that there was not a spiritual or religious leader in the list. Franklin Graham whose leadership in Samaritan's Purse or Rick Warren and the congregation of Saddleback Church have achieved much helping people in need throughout the world.
Emily Foss, Fresno, Calif.
Regarding your Editor's Note, "Who Are Americas Best Leaders?" [December 1-8]: I am stunned that Gen. David Petraeus was left off your list. Until the economy recently supplanted it, there was no larger issue facing America than the Iraq war. Your judges picked junior military officers as a winning category. Does your board not know that it was General Petraeus in Iraq that gave the junior officers the autonomy under his leadership to make a major difference in the outcome of that war? It was General Petraeus who developed the COIN or counterinsurgency strategy that turned defeat into victory in large measure by allowing our forces to "get more connected" with the Iraqi people.
Dave Holmes, Plano, Texas
- Editor's Note: General Petraeus was selected as a Best Leader in 2005.
It is a sad commentary of the times when a nation cannot extol the leadership in our state capitals or in our nation's capital. If I were to be put in the position of selecting leaders of today, I could not justifiably select state-elected officials using the three criteria: sets direction, achieves results, and cultivates a culture of growth. Maybe U.S. News should provide those in state and national office with a copy of the December 1-8 issue. They might take notice.
Carl W. Raggio, Glendale, Calif.
Being a college student, I enjoy reading about educational topics useful to my future. So, to answer your question: "Does It Matter That Your Professor Is Part Time?" [November 17-24]. Yes, tremendously. I want the best education possible, especially with the amount of money I'm handing over to my university. Where does the money go? At some schools, it's almost as if students are paying for their degree and how they're educated really makes no difference. One professor you quoted said that "if the university can get something cheaper, it will." This shouldn't, however, be in conjunction with our education. I attend a highly recognized university that I have full faith in. My professors are passionate about the programs, classes, students, and school, which enhances my opportunities.
Blake Kermode, Des Moines
I have finally learned my lesson after several years as a part-time university instructor and will never again accept one of these positions. There is simply too much economic risk involved. After being assigned to teach a course in organizational behavior, I invested about 40 hours in preparation but was told at the last minute that another faculty member would teach my course instead. Are part-time faculty member supposed to refrain from doing preliminary preparation?
James H. Rayburn, Akron, Ohio
I would like to proffer another species of adjunct not explored in the article: the retired high school educator. He is able to spend extensive time on course preparation, grading, and interacting with students; as a retiree, he has the time to do so and is used to teaching on a high school schedule. The college schedule feels like a luxury in terms of overall time. Contrary to the article's suggestion, it is because the money is so insignificant that he does not kowtow to student evaluations or controversial material, feeling no pressure to dumb down his courses. He is already familiar with the idiosyncratic learning styles of this college generation and may have taught Advanced Placement courses, sometimes tougher than many freshman and sophomore college classes. This sort of part-timer enhances the quality of education and saves colleges and students money. "Does It Matter That Your Professor Is Part Time?"—yes, and that can be a very good thing.
Barbara Amato, Batavia, Ohio
The Role of Polish Forces
I read "As the Americans Move On, Polish Troops Take Over a Fight" [December 1-8], and I'm unsure of its intended purpose. The comments in the article in no way, shape, or form reflect the views of either the U.S. civilian or military leadership. Polish soldiers are well trained, experienced, and dedicated to their mission, and we applaud the decision of the Polish government to deploy troops in this challenging and vital region. There is a statement in the story about the Polish deployment that creates a misleading impression of our ally's commitment to this mission. "In the weeks leading up to the transfer of authority, there have been discipline problems with the Polish forces, 40 percent of whom are conscripts." Even U.S. units have discipline problems, but Polish law prohibits conscripts from being deployed involuntarily outside of Poland. All soldiers in the Polish Task Force, even if they entered the Army as conscripts, have volunteered to take part in the mission (and signed an enlistment contract that ensures they will be in the Army long enough to take part in the full training cycle and full deployment). Change is difficult, and even more so for a multi-national alliance fighting a common enemy in an asymmetric combat environment. There is only one thing harder than attempting to fight using a multinational alliance: attempting to fight without one.
Col. Gregory Julian, Spokesman, U.S. Forces, Afghanistan
Correction: "Building a Better Investing Mousetrap" [December 15-22] incorrectly reported the annual expense ratio of the SPDR S&P 500 exchange-traded fund. It is 0.09 percent.