Reading series doesn't reveal all that's wrongI have been...

Letters

November 11, 1997

Reading series doesn't reveal all that's wrong

I have been reading with interest your series on Maryland chil- dren learning to read. What I haven't seen addressed as a possible problem for children learning to read is the early age that Maryland children are sent to school. The two may be related.

Children in Maryland can start kindergarten if they are 5 years old by Dec. 31 of the school year. Some students who move to Maryland from out of state are 6 before they start kindergarten or turn 6 shortly after the school year begins. Thus, you may have an 18-month age range in a classroom. Add to that natural-ability levels and you may have a two-to-three-year difference in skills in classroom.

All parents think their children are bright. And at ages 4 and 5 they seem so smart. They have learned so many things we don't remember knowing at that age. However, younger children are often frustrated and are more likely to act up in the classroom. They are not socially ready for a classroom setting. Teachers have to deal with so many behavior problems that there is less time to teach.

If all children were required to be 5 years old before school starts, the ability range could become more manageable. This is especially important for young teachers who are learning as they gain experience.

Who benefits from this Maryland law that allows children to start school so young? Not the children. It's time to change Maryland's law. It may be a small step toward improving education in Maryland, but it's a step.

Judy Kinshaw-Ellis

Bel Air

I am appalled that schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick was portrayed as concerned over "hodgepodge" reading instruction and the absence of basic academic skills in the Nov. 8 "Reading by 9" article. It has been under her tenure that these basic skills, including phonics instruction, have been removed from curricula across the state.

How can the State Department of Education propose 10 high-school assessments as a possible graduation requirement, at a cost of $23 million in a no-fault administration phase alone, when the education problems affecting our children are so clearly the lack of basic reading, writing and math skills in our elementary and middle schools?

$ Sue Lambert Timonium

I have lived in the Baltimore area for almost 20 years, so I was surprised when I read the first of your "Reading by 9" series. Didn't we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past to proclaim to the world our ability to read?

I applaud your effort to approach and examine this problem that plagues our country, but I must state, pardon the cliche, that "a picture is worth a thousand words."

A Nov. 2 photograph showed a frustrated 10th-grade dropout at an adult literacy class standing at a blackboard with a list of words taped to it. The heading at the top of the list read "Vocabulay (sic) Word Identification."

A caption at the bottom of another photograph revealed that "schools foster reading disabilities by not providing the right instruction." Perhaps this caption should be moved to the first photograph to highlight the unfortunate fact that the teacher did not spell the instruction words correctly.

We must count our blessing however. We might have been stuck for years with corner benches that read, "Baltimore, the City That Eads."

Sherry Bosley

Bel Air

One can never hear too much Mozart

In her music review on October 14 of a performance by the Concert Artists of Baltimore, Judith Green raises an interesting question to which I'd like to respond: "Please tell me if you went to a concert that consisted of a serious, intelligent performance of a major work that lasts almost an hour, prefaced by knowledgeable commentary and musical examples, would you feel cheated not to hear anything else?"

An answer might be: "Probably, since the usual expectation at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall and elsewhere is about two hours."

Mozart's Requiem is indeed "like a glimpse of heaven," as Ms. Green rightly observes about the Concert Artists' performance with conductor Edward Polochick. "To affix Mozart's Symphony no. 4 (Jupiter) to the front of the program," she continues, "is to detract from both works."

I heartily disagree. If you have a deep interest in Mozart as a human being and a person of the rarest musical genius and listened closely to the thoughtful introduction Edward Polochick made to this last of Mozart's symphonies, and then heard the excellent rendition by the orchestra, the evening was indeed an enriched musical experience.

After all, the most sublime musical work, such as the Requiem, cannot have anything "affixed" to it, but that full evening at

LeClerc Hallwas one of the supreme musical experiences in Baltimore.

Robert Zoerheide

Baltimore

Add bike path along MTA's light-rail line

I am writing in response to the editorial, "Two tracks are better than one" (Oct. 21).

As part of any construction I certainly hope that the Mass Transit Administration will consider putting a bicycle trail along side the light rail line to make it easier for those wishing to use this mode of transportation.

Light rail is scenic in many places and I am sure a bicycle trail could be developed with the proper safety measures. It would be another path for the cyclers that would take them off the roads where they are an accident waiting to happen.

Henry J. Knott Jr.

Baltimore

Pub Date: 11/11/97

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