Tracking, open classrooms and other school issuesFinally...

LETTERS

November 12, 1995

Tracking, open classrooms and other school issues

Finally, The Sun is beginning to get the picture. By noting the demise of open classrooms, the paper correctly points to the possibility of making similar mistakes now (editorial, Oct. 11).

Just as monumental boo-boos were made a few decades ago, there is no guarantee that current educators are making the right moves. Four-period days, year-round education and bogus predictions on future student enrollment come to mind.

Obviously, playing games with teachers and curricula is not without its risks. One can see this in the latest attempts at welding a national history curriculum. Everyone and his brother has a vested interest in being included with little concern for cogent information.

The Sun should also not assume that gifted and talented programs are a given. While it is always politically correct to point to "challenging" the more talented students, it is also possible to create a less-than-satisfactory atmosphere for the average student. In this respect, the "new" primary GT program is merely duplicating what schools did in the '50s -- not separating students for academic reasons.

I would rather see more emphasis on reading, writing and speaking skills for all rather than categorizing students by ability so that parents can display bumper stickers stating that "My kid is a top scholar at such-and-such elementary school."

Also by offering a multitude of "advanced" courses in secondary schools, you merely are making the divide between students even sharper than it would be normally. Many of these so-called GT courses do little more than present various knowledge at an earlier age than normal and hardly "address distinct needs." You would think that the extensive county GT program would lead to better-qualified students entering community and four-year colleges, but that is not the case, at least at public institutions.

With costs continually rising, there is even more reason to closely examine any ideas preferred by the Department of Education in the name of improving learning. Without these sometimes strange "reforms," there would be no reason for many educators' existence.

The acquisition of knowledge in schools today is not a bit better than it was decades ago. In fact, it may not be as good due to the endless questionable and expensive fads.

R. D. Bush

Columbia

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Few people have engaged in disputes with the school board of Howard County more vigorously then I. In the heat of disagreement about ideas, the people on the board have been professional and fair to both myself and others in instances where harsher treatment could have been justified. I feel they have made mistakes as all people do and I acknowledge my own numerous mistakes. But their integrity and dedication should be commended and must be preserved for the county now and in future.

Our dilemma in Howard County is clear:

* Good people deserve to be compensated for their time and particularly for the abuse they must endure from those of us who are unhappy with the actions of the Howard County Department of Education. Should not proper compensation be paid instead of the present token offer?

* One of the main reasons we have such a fine school board is that no one is in it for the money. Most of the individuals involved are working to educate our children. Will an increase in salary attract less dedicated candidates to sit on the school board in the future?

Last spring, I watched "60 Minutes" look into the corruption of and mismanagement by school boards in other states. We should be ever conscious of how our school board appears in comparison. We're lucky.

Louis N. Reinthaler

Ellicott City

The writer is president of the Dunloggin Middle School PTA.

Chief says probe of massage parlors was a dirty job but a necessary one

In the past two weeks, there has been a significant amount of attention and criticism in the media concerning the recently concluded massage establishment investigations. While I do not intend to try these cases in the press, I feel that it is important to clarify some misconceptions which have been fostered in recent news accounts.

Some accounts have questioned the need to conduct this type of investigation, seemingly suggesting that the crimes committed in these establishments are in some way insignificant and not worthy of our attention.

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