What it takes to overhaul public schoolsThe concept that...

The forum

April 19, 1995

What it takes to overhaul public schools

The concept that American education needs an overhaul was correctly stated in the report ''A Nation At Risk,'' a critique of education in the 1980s.

The rapid changes in technology, mass communication and other areas of learning require a change in our educational system.

The trick, however, is to get positive results. Certainly, mastery of the fundamentals should be a prime concern. Quality education should teach not only what the student wants to learn, but also what the student must know to function in an ever-more complex society.

This includes the ability to read and a working knowledge of mathematics.

Too much time and effort are spent highlighting self-esteem and other social concepts important to development. Far too many students are not spending quality time on home work assignments related to the learning process.

Certainly, assignments are not being completed in the school environment. That in many cases has become devoted to socializing.

We as educators, parents and concerned citizens must see to it that students discipline themselves in accepting the school, not only as a place to socialize but as a place to mature, learn moral values and responsibility.

We must see to it that students graduating from a public high school have a proper command of written and spoken English. Every youngster should have an opportunity to learn and appreciate the history of his country.

If education in America is to truly improve, teachers should be given greater realistic input into the learning process.

Finally, we have forgotten that a quality education means work. It means burning the midnight oil. It means that the youngster will have a textbook that he may take home to review the day's work.

To improve education, every parent will have to take a greater interest in what the school is doing for his youngsters. And yes, we must get students motivated to take learning seriously.

We can do this by being fair, understanding and yet demanding of our students. To improve the public schools, we must enlist the help, the support and trust of all parents.

John A. Micklos

Baltimore

Hoodlums tormenting seniors

Shame, shame, shame on the system that penalizes the Nathaniel Hurts of our society. It accommodates and allows to go free the elements that continue to harass and terrorize the seniors such as Mr. Hurt and myself.

On the small block where I've lived for 42 years, each summer we seniors have to look forward to not being able to cross our street, because of one particular household of young people who are sellers, users and abusers of drugs.

They literally torment our seniors, by gunning their drug-owned cars to 70 or more miles per hour, just as we attempt to go from one side of the street to the other visiting.

This is the fifth summer this situation has gone on. Their reply if we dare complain is, "Get outta the way, old lady!"

Have complaints been made against them? Yes. But they are arrested in the morning and released by lunch-time.

This is the kind of situation that Mr. Hurt encountered for a long time. Nothing was done before this horrendous event took place.

Since I am chronically ill and can't move as quickly as I used to, rather than take the chance of being run down by these hoodlums, I don't cross my street, but sit on my porch taking a chance of getting shot, since they also are always shooting at each other.

The Bible says "The wicked shall be punished." I say, "Lord, how soon, how soon?"

Yes, there is such a thing as neighborhood senior citizen fear syndrome. Lord, I say, how much longer do the helpless and innocent suffer? Lord, how long?

Dolores C. McWilliams

Baltimore

A different profile

In his book "Profiles in Courage," John F. Kennedy described the personal and career sacrifices made by Americans in the face of various political pressures.

In the names of the thousands killed and maimed in Vietnam, it's too bad that Robert McNamara never read the Kennedy book or had the word "courage" rub off on him.

Robert Sullivan

Ruxton

No deficit spending

Our federal deficit not only has to be reduced, it must go negative. We must pay off our national debt, a result of the Reagan-Bush years, or we'll go down the monetary "tubes."

Let's have no tax cutting until the deficit is gone. Let's have spending cuts.

Welfare rules must be altered to allow supplements but not sharp cut-offs when a recipient gets a job.

We paid for Social Security. It comes from our wages as enforced savings, but since it grew from compound interest on those savings, it can be taxed.

Our military spending is unconscionable. We're not at war and we're paying as much for "defense" as all other countries combined.

Japan is winning the "economic war" a half-century after its defeat because the size of its military was restricted and it thus could put all of its effort into commercial gain. Now they're taking us over.

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