Helping middle school children to readIn his letter of...


September 26, 1997

Helping middle school children to read

In his letter of Sept. 12, Ed Reed Jr. asks what the Baltimore County Public Schools will do to address the middle school children who are still reading below grade school level. We have an answer to his question.

Our new middle school reading program, an appropriate link to the elementary program instituted last year with such promising results, is mandatory for all sixth graders. This reading program supplements and does not supplant regular English class. It emphasizes teaching students to employ effective reading strategies and uses informal and formal reading assessments to monitor progress. This renewed emphasis on middle school reading instruction provides structured reading classes for all sixth graders and differentiated for students with special needs. Seventh and eighth graders will receive emphasis on reading through all content areas. A ''Literacy Team,'' made up of a librarian and a reading teacher, will address individual student needs as well as school-wide reading issues.

The middle school reading program addresses the basics of reading instruction. The call for this substantive program in the middle schools comes from Dr. Anthony Marchione. Our office has been charged with providing the middle school reading curriculum and on-going training for teachers and reading specialists. This endeavor is well under way, with teacher training that began in the summer and will continue throughout the year.

Educators who have worked with middle and high school students for many years (25, in my case) have always seen a certain percentage of students whose reading skills fall below grade level. We have always looked for ways to provide additional attention for their special needs. I am pleased to be a part of a concerted K-12 countywide and statewide effort that is, more than ever before, taking a critical look at the needs of students in our school and working to address those needs.

We are pleased that the entire middle school community, including the important parent constituency, has embraced our efforts.

Paula Simon


The writer is coordinator of the Office of English for Baltimore County Public Schools.

Praise for Griffin in Pfiesteria fight

As a lifelong resident of the ''Land of Pleasant Living,'' I must admit to being more than a little concerned by the recent outbreaks of Pfiesteria. The potential impact of Pfiesteria on our waterways, economy and indeed on our quality of life is downright scary.

Fortunately, working on this difficult problem we have a gifted leader who will put politics and photo ops aside to ensure the interest of our state and its citizens are protected.

I have come to know the Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources, John R. Griffin, as an honest, knowledgeable, dedicated public servant who is a tough advocate for our environment.

John has consistently impressed me with his passion and

unwavering commitment to protecting our state's vast natural resources. I cannot think of anyone I'd rather see leading our fight against this invisible enemy.

Robert V. Hess


Lifers still waiting for parole policy

The Circuit Court ruled that inmates serving life sentences have the right to parole hearings (''Governor's parole plan overturned,'' Sept. 17).

Since the duties of the Parole Commission, to hold hearings and make parole recommendations, were created by the General Assembly, the governor did not have the authority to issue an order to the commission not to recommend lifers for parole.

This ruling brings attention to the companion issue of a pre-release policy for lifers. Under the former administration, men and women with parolable life sentences were among prisoners on work release. Each day they left their prisons, went to work and returned. They were paying the state for room and board, paying taxes and contributing to their families and communities.

Following an incident in which a lifer shot his girlfriend and killed himself, the other 133 lifers were taken out of the pre-release system and transferred to medium-security institutions at Jessup, Hagerstown and other locations. This ''temporary'' transfer was necessary, according to the Division of Corrections, while a policy was being developed.

Four years later, the lifers are not being given parole consideration, are not working, are costing the state rather than contributing, and are still waiting for the policy.

Noni Faruq


Cassini launch endangers millions

I am writing to applaud Mayor Schmoke's political courage, insight and humanity as evidenced by his public opposition to the launch of NASA's Cassini spacecraft. As a mother, public health advocate and a member of the Woman's International League for Peace and Freedom, I too oppose the launch.

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