Grads Will Know Ninth-Grade WorkI am wondering if this...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 29, 1993

Grads Will Know Ninth-Grade Work

I am wondering if this state functional testing program is really a "feel good" exercise and shows little about the real capabilities of students (July 25, The Sun, "Students perform better in 1992-1993, but blacks lag").

Supposedly this test is based on material learned in the sixth grade. So we have everyone take the test in the ninth grade and clasp our hands with glee when we get almost 98 percent passing the reading test. How about a few examples of the questions on this indicator of achievement?

It seems odd that students seem to be having a problem with the metric system. I would have thought that more of the difficulty with math would be with ounces, pecks, pints, etc. How can anyone be confused about the metric system?

It is reassuring that students will be able to take the test in the seventh grade when the material is fresher in their minds. Then, if they happen to forget a little later on it won't matter. In addition, high school teachers won't have to spend the "first six to eight weeks of school reviewing test material." They can spend more time reviewing for the citizenship test.

From this reassuring article, I guess it is safe to say that Howard County pupils are at least at a ninth-grade level when they graduate.

R. D. Bush

Columbia

Gun Culture

I am an eighth-grade English teacher and the eighth-grade team leader at a middle school in Howard County. I have been reading this discussion concerning the right to bear arms and left-wing liberals in The Sun.

Why is it that people continually discuss gun control as a plot by left-wing liberals to unman the American population? I am absolutely in favor of controlling the types of guns sold to just any person walking in off the street. Rhetoric is causing all of us to ignore the real reasons people use guns.

First, people grow up thinking guns are an option for problem-solving. If any parent raises a child to believe, for any reason, that guns are acceptable pointed at people, that parent better be prepared for the worst. A perfect example of this lies in the case in which the brothers killed their parents in "self-defense."

Second, people grow up thinking that bullets don't hurt or kill. Media corporations, on an hourly basis, teach that violence works much better than talking or thinking. The belief that television doesn't teach is nonsense.

If visual images weren't so successful at instructing our populace, why is the marketing of television time such an incredibly profitable business? The "power elite" invest in the stock of arms manufacturers, movie or television companies, and products which are advertised on shows celebrating violence. These same people, with little or no thought about their own moral imperative, probably decry the violence in the street of our cities. The problem with this is that if they were to examine the way their money was being invested and the reasons for their profits, they would have to confront their own role in keeping armed violence as an option in this country. . . .

As long as we continue to point our fingers toward "the other guy," we will never look within ourselves for the reasons for violence. . . .

Kathryn White-Lathrop

Marriottsville

Legislative Scholarships

In his July 18 letter to The Sun, William Thies, former president of the Howard County Republican Club, called my participation in the state scholarship program "a disgraceful practice." His letter totally ignored the safeguards I have incorporated into the program's administration to ensure the scholarships are awarded in a fair and just manner. He also failed to mention that I voted for legislation which would have replaced the existing system but guaranteed that Howard County students continue to receive their fair share of state scholarship money.

As a member of the House of Delegates, I am allotted approximately $10,000 annually to aid deserving students in my district who wish to attend an institute of higher learning in Maryland. The reviewing of the applications and actual awarding of scholarships are done by an independent committee composed of a cross-section of District 13A residents. . . .

Because a few legislators have been accused of abusing the present system, I supported legislation that would have phased out the legislative scholarship program. The bill also would have guaranteed that a new program, to be developed for the 1994 session, would require that students from jurisdictions across the state continue to receive their fair share of scholarship money. Unfortunately, although this bill passed the House of Delegates, it failed in the Senate, which controls the lion's share of the total scholarship funds; Each senator has approximately three times the amount allotted to each delegate.

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