LIKE MANY, I've been increasingly dismayed by the school district response to the recent violence against Asian students at South Philadelphia High. Rather than listening sincerely to the voices of students, officials have focused on prescribing what students "should" do, a tactic that's only made the situation worse.

On the day of the attacks, students were told they "should" listen to school security guards, who forced students to go to areas of the school where they were intimidated, and even egged on the attackers. Students have been repeatedly told that they "should" return to school, though many Asian students continue to feel threatened.

Further, they are still being told that they "shouldn't" see an attack on 30 Asian students as a racial incident, as if the climate of intolerance that school officials allowed to fester within the school will magically go away.

Months before this most recent incident, Asian students at South Philadelphia High had been trying unsuccessfully to pressure school officials to address the alarming trend of violence toward immigrants. Even now, the students' latest attempt at meeting with Dr. Ackerman on their terms are being rebuffed. Ackerman and other school officials should stop trying to determine what is best for these students without seeking their input and simply ask the students themselves.

Ken Hung, Philadelphia

As a retired ESL (English as a second language) teacher who taught the first Southeast Asians who came to Philadelphia after the Vietnam War, the current problem at South Philadelphia High mirrors what I witnessed daily at University City High School in the early 1980s.

Asian students were frequently assaulted, robbed of their jewelry and the girls had their hair ignited by lighters as they walked in the stairwells. Most assaults went unreported because of language barriers and a distrust of the mostly African-American faculty and administration.

What did the Asian students do to "provoke" these conflicts? They were quiet, respectful and studious, traits looked upon with disdain and jealousy by the thugs who made their school day miserable. Recall that several thousand Hmong or "mountain people" fled Philadelphia and settled in Minnesota after suffering numerous violent attacks.

Nothing appears to have changed in 25 years. Instead of offering sessions in "diversity propaganda," school officials should treat the dysfunctional culture that creates the thugs who value violence and the streets over education. In the meantime, the administration should move quickly to identify, expel and prosecute them.

MaryAnn F. Swift, Erdenheim

Downplaying Pearl Harbor

Your Dec. 7 edition - the 68th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the day that changed our world forever, had on its front page a headline and picture of an ex-felon who plays football for the Eagles.

I had to go to Page 20 before I could find anything relating to Pearl Harbor. I was very saddened and angry, to say the least. But I would like to thank sincerely the creator of the comic strip "Nancy" on Page 44 for devoting the strip to the memory of Pearl Harbor.

Tom Woodruff, Oreland

Hurray for bicycle enforcement

Three cheers to the police for addressing the problem with bicyclists who must learn to adhere to the rules of the road.

While enjoying a day in Center City recently, my mother was nearly hit by a bicyclist as we crossed the street in the front of City Hall. It would seem that these folks don't realize that they, too, are operating vehicles that could seriously injure pedestrians.

Red lights mean that all traffic must stop - not just automobiles.

Patricia Warrick

Philadelphia