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Opinion | Funding for the Science Adviser

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To the Editor:

Is an Adviser Necessary to Help Elevate Science?” (Science Times, May 4) reported concerns that elevating the science adviser to the cabinet level could be “more symbolic than substantive.” For the sake of the country’s response to societal challenges, and its economic future and national security, let’s make sure that it’s substantive.

To get there, we need to support the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which the science adviser leads, beyond its pre-cabinet budget of $5.5 million a year. By comparison, other cabinet officials control billions.

The science adviser needs financial resources commensurate with the scale of the science and technology challenges the country must address, from ending the pandemic and preventing future ones, to curbing climate disruption, ensuring food and water security, and creating novel ways to produce and store energy.

Congress should appropriate funding for cross-agency projects that enable the cross-disciplinary approaches that are needed. Coordination and collaboration are essential for delivering science and technology solutions to some of our most vexing dilemmas.

Mary Woolley
Keith R. Yamamoto
Sudip Parikh
The writers are co-chairs of the Science & Technology Action Committee.

To the Editor:

As a retired New York City middle-school teacher, I am increasingly concerned that I keep reading and hearing about schoolchildren “falling behind” this year because of remote learning during the pandemic. Behind whom? Why are we using metrics and standards that are perhaps sensible in “normal” times and trying to apply them now?

What possible value can there be in stigmatizing a child as if this was his or her fault? We’ve all had to make accommodations during this dreadful year, and perhaps no group was affected more than children. No school, no social interactions, no play dates, no birthday parties.

It cannot surprise anyone that many of them, even the most privileged, have lost some academic ground, and that is unfortunate. But these were extraordinary times, and I can think of nothing more soul-crushing than to tell a child that he is behind, not up to standard, below grade level.

Why can’t we just acknowledge that we all lost something this year, that we are resilient and that with a little help our children will have an opportunity to catch up? Let’s not treat them as failures.

Deborah Landes
Bradenton, Fla.

To the Editor:

Re “Justices May Write Guantánamo’s Final Chapter,” by Linda Greenhouse (Sunday Review, May 9):

Is it not time to close not just the Guantánamo detention center, but the entire U.S. Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba as well?

Even though we may not like Cuba’s government (and there are others even worse), it is a sovereign nation that does not want a U.S. base on its territory.

Cuba is not a threat to the United States, and we really have no right to impose our base on it. Improving ties between the United States and Cuba could lead to a more democratic Cuba.

Winnie Boal
Cincinnati

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