NEITHER School Superintendent Ackerman nor her advisers get it. (Does anyone remember the problem that Masterman students had with being assaulted not long ago?)

The problem inside and outside of our schools isn't a lack of security or racism. Rather, it's a lack of confidence within each member of all three school groups - teachers, parents and students - to confront their own insecurities.

Even worse, since students feel like the powerless ones among the three groups, young people, as social beings (like all of us) look for companionship by joining gangs and such, as opposed to involving themselves with groups where they learn to share ideas and activities while cooperating with each other in a positive way.

Let's face it: Young people want to be acknowledged for what they achieve - or try to achieve. We need to give them positive experiences that will help them build confidence. Then they will try harder. As it's been said: Confidence gives self-esteem a place to grow.

In any case, with that self-esteem, young folks will begin to develop a "sense of self." Then others won't have to suffer as some students, at the expense of their fellows, won't have to use the other group as a means to an end called "self-worth."

A safe learning environment doesn't mean having more police and metal detectors. Rather, a safe place to learn is one where a student doesn't have to worry about being scolded or ridiculed by either a teacher or fellow students. Then that student can feel safe to take chances, whether asking questions or experimenting with something - and learn.

G. Djata Bumpus, Philadelphia

The ultimate loss

This not only pertains to Tiger Woods, but to all men in whatever walk of life they may be in: "What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?"

Paul Kelly, Philadelphia