Teach children according to their abilitiesI find...

the Forum

November 11, 1993

Teach children according to their abilities

I find Baltimore School Superintendent Walter Amprey's response to the U.S. Department of Education's National Excellence report (Nov. 5) typical of public school administrators.

He and they are wrong when they say students shouldn't be put in categories.

They say that dividing children into classes according to ability will make the poorer students feel bad (as if they don't already know who the smart kids are), prevent the good students from the "experience" of teaching the poor students (sorry, eight-year-olds aren't trained to be teachers), prevent children of different abilities from interacting (as if they don't see each other on the bus and in the neighborhoods), cause children to only make friends with those of like abilities (children of like ability and interest seek out each other anyway) and divide kids according to race and culture. (Do school administrators assume certain races and cultures are smarter than others? I hope not).

A second-grade teacher cannot meet the needs of all her children when some are struggling with "Hop on Pop" and others are reading Nancy Drew. What does a teacher do when some kids are ready for multiplication and others still have problems with addition?

What happens is that the teacher works with the slower students while the smarter ones wait. Eventually the teacher moves on, leaving the poorest students confused and frustrated.

When my daughter was in the second grade, she spent three-fourths of her class time bored, waiting for others to finish assignments and tests. As a result, she started to have stomach aches.

Categorizing children and placing them in classes according to ability is exactly what is needed. It allows teachers to properly tailor lessons to the students' ability. It keeps the students of all abilities challenged and keeps them from being frustrated and bored.

Children have different abilities, and the school system should face up to reality and teach our children accordingly.

Carl J. Oppenheim

Owings Mills

Cloning

A recent news report stating that human cloning was successfully accomplished left me dazed, confused and struggling to understand why seemingly intelligent people need to do this.

I believe that our heavenly maker has a plan that does not include this. Granted there are some interesting if not bizarre possibilities, like having one child now and an identical one later, if the first doesn't work out. The possibilities are mind bending.

The bad outweighs the good on this one and we may just be a little too close to playing God. You don't have to look too hard at history to see how time after time a seemingly innocent thing turns into a real wrong. Does Adolph Hitler and the perfect race ring a bell? When will we learn?

Toni Ebling

Baltimore

Health plans

As a state employee I would like to reply to Marc Miller's letter of Oct. 29, concerning state workers' health benefits.

Mr. Miller writes that "state employees are up in arms over proposed increases," that he is "a taxpayer employed in private industry who receives no assistance from either the state or my employer for health insurance," and asks, "What's the problem?"

Presently the starting salary for the equivalent of my job in private industry is more than double what it is with the state.

After 24 years in this job and even after being promoted to supervisor, I have never attained the starting salary that private industry presently pays for the work I do.

State salaries have fallen pitifully behind private industry. Perhaps if I were one of those in private employment and had a salary like private workers have, I would be able to afford to pay my own health insurance. Many in private industry receive assistance from their employers in purchasing health care.

Mr. Miller asks, "Why should I have to subsidize someone else's plan when I can barely afford to take care of my own family?"

I believe that all of us "subsidize" each other. Every time I patronize the bank, the grocery store, the doctor, the gas station, etc., or purchase any product, I subsidize the workers' and owners' salaries and health insurance.

In addition, as John O'Brien stated in his letter of Nov. 1, "State workers and retirees are taxpayers too." (Thank you, Mr. O'Brien!)

Maybe one of the reasons state workers have taken jobs at the low salaries is their health plan that The Evening Sun calls "diamond-studded." I ask you to tell the whole story when reporting on what is being offered state employees and why.

Rita Connor

Baltimore

NAFTA disaster

The loud sucking sound you hear is NAFTA moving jobs, industry and our tax base down the tubes from the U.S. to Mexico.

My grandfather, a toolmaker in the Rhode Island textile industry, heard the same sucking sound as textile factories moved across not national but state borders to the cheap labor of the South. Rhode Island is still depressed, while textiles since went overseas.

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