Longer school days worthless for snow makeupI couldn't...


January 24, 1996

Longer school days worthless for snow makeup

I couldn't believe my eyes as I read that state and county officials may lengthen the school day to make up for days missed due to snow.

Why didn't they learn the same lesson I did while teaching extended days in 1994? Extended school days did not make up a single missed lesson, and they reduced the quality of education which did take place.

Scheduling conflicts would not allow an extra class to be added at the beginning or end of the day, so each period was made five minutes longer than usual.

Needless to say, no missed lessons could be squeezed into the extra five minutes. Combining lessons in one period was rarely an option, either. Because learning occurs when new concepts can be linked with prior knowledge, too many new concepts at once overwhelm the student and prevent learning.

Other commitments did not cease during the extended school days. Sports, work, night school and other activities continued at the same rate as before.

Many students, parents and teachers, unable to arrange for a 25-hour day, simply slept an hour less for several months.

This resulted in increased illness and absenteeism among students and staff. Throughout the day, students slept in class and teachers wished they could do the same. Other students chose to sleep-in at home. Tardiness more than doubled, and that first and second class of the day became increasingly challenging to teach, with students trickling in all the time.

Disruption of the learning process increased and school morale declined exponentially over the course of this failed experiment.

If school officials are genuinely concerned about the students' missed lessons, then we'll skip spring vacation, add a few more school days at the end of the year, and plan for more snow days next year, or go to school in two inches of snow like the rest of the world.

Making students, teachers and their families suffer through another bout of extended school days for no educational gain is more proof that school officials' main priority is numbers and quotas, not the education of our children.

This being the case, it would be much easier on all of us if they amended the law to allow us just fewer school days this year.

Trisha Chason


Mixing commuters and students bad idea

To open city schools Jan. 16 on time was an irresponsible act of the Baltimore school system, forcing children and commuters to use inadequately plowed roads.

We all were ready to have our children back in school after the extended "vacation." However, an extra hour or two to get commuters off the road before sending out children to the same streets would certainly have made me more comfortable. Children transported to schools by automobiles were thrust into the same melee. Consistently passable lanes on normal routes were reduced, and alternate routes were often unavailable.

If the city is paralyzed by too much snow, and thus narrow streets, then paralyzed it should stay until adequate snow removal is accomplished.

!K. Kerchner McConlogue


Protesters aim at wrong target

With all due respect to the All Peoples' Congress and Councilman Melvin Stukes, their protest against the Mass Transit Administration's fare increase was misdirected.

The MTA is handcuffed and has no choice in raising fares and reducing service. The fault lies with the insane, unfair and economically strangling mandate by the General Assembly that the MTA recover 50 percent of its operating costs from the farebox.

Protests should be in Annapolis, directed toward the state legislature, demanding the removal of the 50 percent mandate. Protest groups, local political leaders of Baltimore City and the counties in the MTA service area, along with the MTA riders, potential riders and any other fair and interested persons should be encouraging their General Assembly representatives to rescind the 50 percent mandate.

Legislators from the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas should be doing the utmost to help their constituents. The problem lies with those legislators from "other" parts of the state, who have an antagonistic attitude toward the Baltimore and Washington metro areas.

Get rid of the farebox recovery mandate, unshackle the MTA and allow it to give good service at an affordable fare rate.

Harry E. Bennett Jr.


Article on strays called outstanding

Laura Lippman's Jan. 8 article, "The Other Barkleys," which described the plight of unwanted, neglected and stray animals, was outstanding. And we believe her depiction of the frustrations experienced by staff at the Baltimore County animal shelter and the Maryland SPCA was right on the mark.

Unfortunately, Ms. Lippman's fine article was largely wasted because it was published on the first day of the Blizzard of '96, when many subscribers did not receive their copies of The Sun.

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