Fine-tune the grading
From: Jean Kim
As a graduating senior from Atholton High School, I would like to commend the Howard County public school system for its excellent work. I feel I have received a more than adequate education in preparation for my studies in college next year.
However, while reflecting on my 13 years in this school system, a couple of easily correctable things glare at me from a general scheme of excellence.
The most obvious problem to me regards the current grading system in Howard County high schools. The current system does not weigh grades in terms of the difficulty of the class taken. Therefore, it is possible to be ranked first in your class and have a perfect 4.0 average, without ever having set foot in a G/T (gifted and talented) or even honors level class.
I know this probably does not seem like that big of a deal, but to those that work hard to get A's or B's in the most challenging classes, this system really smarts inside.
How would you feel, having worked your brains out to receive a couple of B's during the year in Calculus III AP and U.S. History AP, only to see someone in Geometry and Regular U.S. Studies be ranked higher than you, with a higher GPA? It makes no sense.
In fact, it's all a matter of common sense. How can an A in English 10 G/T be the same as an A in English 10 Regular? What this grading system does, in essence, is reward those who take easier classes. It encourages one to drop out of more challenging work.
Other things magnify this situation. At Atholton, every quarter those kids with a 4.0 average get a special breakfast of recognition. Of course, in reality, this breakfast means little to the kids who attend, but the basic issue here is one of fairness.
Why do these kids get to be labeled at all as "4.0 students," when some of them obviously take less challenging courses than some who do not get 4.0s?
Another form of unfair recognition involves the Cumulative 4.0 Award at Atholton. Again, the two students who received this award took less challenging courses than students who received 3.8s or 3.9s. Why be recognized as students with all A's, when this is obviously not the real case? What is the definition of a 4.0 or a No. 1 ranking after all? Isn't it supposed to mean "highest achievement?"
In The Howard County Sun, one of these students was called "one of the top two students in her class."
This is simply not true, and the system should have it so that this sort of miswording can be prevented, so that at least some measure of fairness is involved. In other words, those students who take harder classes should be ranked higher than those who do not. It's simply a matter of fairness.
I don't know if there are technicalities or budget problems involved preventing the implementation of a fairer grading system, but I hope, if it is at all possible, that this system can soon be fixed for current and future students.
After all, it is just a minor blemish on an otherwise outstanding educational record this county has compiled.
Friend of Columbia, growth
From: Jean I. Quattlebaum
It was with great disappointment that I read your article in the June 14 special supplement, "Columbia at 25" [Howard County Sun, "To some, Columbia casts a long shadow," by Erik Nelson].
In your article you quoted me as saying, "I think Columbia is great, but let Columbia stay in Columbia."
In the course of our conversation, I believe my statement was, "Columbia lifestyle is a matter of choice."
Personally and professionally, I find that people easily determine the home atmosphere (Columbia, rural, etc.) they prefer. "It's a matter of choice."
Your caption under my picture states that I am opposed to further development in the Columbia area. Nothing could be further from the truth. My only opposition is to the GTW Group petition for the development at Waverly Woods.
At my urging, last October, concerned members of the community surrounding the proposed project requested a meeting with the petitioner and county planners. It was our hope to make modifications to the petition that would benefit all. Our request was ignored by the petitioner. Now, does that sound like someone who is opposed to growth?
I can assure you that anyone that knows me knows that I am an avid protector of private property rights and staunch supporter of affordable housing. Please, let's get the story straight.
(Jean I. Quattlebaum is a Realtor and member of Citizens Allied for Rational Expansion.)
Tribute to Gardner
From: Parents and Players
of the Columbia MAGIC
An open letter to Dave Gardner:
We, the Columbia Magic players and parents, want to publicly express our deep appreciation and respect for the tremendous coaching efforts you have selflessly given us during the past two years.
As you step down, we step forward to applaud the many hours you have devoted to the team, the many sacrifices you have made and your unwavering dedication to the girls.