Farewell to Seuss
From "The Cat in the Hat" to "Yertle the Turtle" and "Green Eggs and Ham," each book Dr. Seuss wrote had a message or a clue. He taught kids to read -- adults too. I wonder if we will ever again see anyone who writes like that.
The virtues and value of public schools
Although I agree with Martin Lindsay Cardwell's Sept. 19 letter, "Schools that work," which extols the excellence of the Baltimore Catholic schools, I have some concerns regarding the statistics he uses to support his conclusion: "Need we search further [for excellent education]?"
The Catholic schools represent a small, academically selective group of students -- not the large, heterogeneous group who attend Baltimore County schools. So it is understandable that 90 percent of Catholic school students attend college. Moreover, the proposed "new techniques and approaches" which Mr. Cardwell discounts are crucial to meeting the needs of the diverse population of the public schools.
As a Baltimore County high school teacher who finds much value and promise in the heterogeneity of my student population, I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to make a difference in their lives ` even if those lives do not include higher education.
Isn't it possible that the "poor results in education" to which Mr. Cardwell refers could be attributed not to any particular school system but rather to poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, poor role models, the fragmentation of the family unit and other socio-economic problems?
Yes, the Baltimore Catholic schools are very valuable to our students. But not searching further, as Mr. Cardwell suggests, would overlook a large number of our students who, according to state law, have a right to an appropriate education from birth until age 21.
Susan C. Euker
For two other views on urban education, see below.
The Sept. 23 Forum Extra by Paul Slepian, regarding SAT scores, misinterprets the Scholastic Aptitude Test scores. While the lower average scores are very serious, Mr. Slepian's interpretations are mathematically wrong.
The SAT scores average 500, with standard deviations set to 100 points. Thus a score of 422 means that the score is .78 standard deviations below the mean. Correction for guessing is not a factor in comparing test scores, since all of the scores have probably been adjusted for guessing over the years. More important, the scores have nothing to do with the number of correctly answered questions. A student who correctly answers only 80 percent of the test questions could get a score of 800 because, when compared to all of the other students, the 80 percent score was an extremely high score.
The average score of 422 is alarming, however, because it means that only about 22 percent of the students did at least as well as 50 percent of the students did in the past. The 474 score means about 40 percent did at least as well. (One needs a statistics table to decipher SAT scores.)
While some of the difference could be accounted for by differences in the test itself (not all tests are comparable) and by differences in the sample (perhaps more poor students signed up than before), one could safely conclude that we should have better schools. Clearly we need better mathematics professors at the college level.
Robert G. Wendland
The writer is deputy personnel director for Baltimore's Civil 1/2 Service Commission.
We have to address the slaughter on our highways by big, overloaded trucks, many of which are too large for the roads they travel and just can't stop.
We need a standard stopping distance for different speeds. For example, a car going 50 mph can stop in, say, 500 feet. All vehicles, therefore, should be able to stop in the same distance when going at that speed. If they can't, they should be made to travel at a speed at which they can stop in that distance.
It is getting to the point that if you drive one of those large trucks you have a license to kill. But the trucking lobby, with its big money, is trying to get the government to allow trucks with triple trailers on our highways.
Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan informed me that he had to balance the economic health of the trucking industry against traffic safety on the highways. He has taken the trucking industry line. What happened to public safety?
John S. Angerine
Having it both ways
When the AIDS lobby wants more money and support, it tells us that the disease is on our doorsteps and soon will "touch" all of us. But when it wants us not to test and identify those with the disease, it says AIDS is not readily communicable and that it is relatively hard to contract. Huh?