Parents should supervise reading at home, if schools fail...

SATURDAY MAIL BOX

November 15, 1997

Parents should supervise reading at home, if schools fail to 0) do a good job

As a parent of nine-year-old twins who represent the opposite sides of the "Reading by 9" spectrum, I find it abominable that at the end of the 20th century the responsible heads of the educational system are still "trying to figure out" how it is best to teach our children to read.

I further find it depressing that the state school superintendent's office would wake up and call for action after the relevant articles appeared in the paper.

The question that begs to be asked is, "Who is responsible for this mess?" and also, "When will those responsible come to realize that one size does not fit all?"

I say stop running experiments with our children and do your job, using the appropriate method to achieve the desired result.

When either method used leaves 40 percent or more of our children disadvantaged in reading, it does not take a rocket scientist to conclude that a blend of both methods must be taught to the teachers, along with a way of identifying which child will benefit from which method.

As for Sen. Barbara Mikulski's thoughts on passing additional federal legislation, all I can say is that legislation is not a substitute for honesty, energy and integrity of the system.

Let those responsible know that they are expected to start going to work with the intent of solving the problem rather than spending their working day passing the buck.

The public schools must perform their intended function and not merely provide glorified baby-itting and expect the parents to somehow solve the problem themselves with the limited amount of waking time that is left in the day, provided that they are inclined to do so.

When a student fails to learn, it is the teacher who has failed. The student merely pays the price for a lifetime.

George C. Karadimas

Ellicott City

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As a former elementary teacher and supervisor in Baltimore City and as an adjunct faculty member at the College of Notre Dame I read with keen interest your Nov. 2-5 series, "Reading by 9."

I point with pride to the education department at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. We adhere to no specific reading theory but provide our future teachers with instruction in various methodologies, including the use of basal readers, literature-based instruction, whole-language and phonics.

No college can teach everything in four years. At the College of Notre Dame students are equipped with theory and various methods and they practice planning and teaching sample reading lessons.

We like to think, too, that our future teachers have the intelligence to teach effectively while seeking additional information and continuing their professional growth.

Betty H. Kansler

Baltimore

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The series supports what the Maryland State Teachers Association has said for years: When teachers don't get adequate support, children suffer.

Effective pre-service and in-service training are critical elements to this support. We must also seriously examine professional development services provided at school as well as access to higher education by teachers through the state.

It is imperative to remember these issues when we consider the importance of funding Maryland's public schools. Let us not be dollar-wise and child-foolish. In education, as in business, wise investment yields the greatest rewards.

Karl Kirby Pence

Annapolis

The writer is the president of the Maryland State Teachers Association.

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So many people -- teachers, superintendents, reporters, etc. -- are willing to throw blame at someone else. The point is we are all to blame and we must all become the answer.

As a parent, it is my responsibility to provide the materials, time and patience for my child to become a successful learner.

As a professional teacher, it is my responsibility to provide the best instruction, learning situations and patience for my students. By placing blame on one another we lose sight of our common goal, the education of our children.

The articles in The Sun should be put to better use than the blame game. Let's work together to make reading a reality for all children.

Abby Beytin

Reisterstown

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I wish your writers had looked into Harford County's program. Our students are taught whole-language along with phonics.

This program has proven itself in making our children more successful readers.

Another aspect of the reading process I would like to have seen examined is the parents' role in preparing their children for education. We tell parents they are their children's first and most important teachers. However, by the time parents hear that at school, the most important five years have already passed.

Children need to be read to from the time we can sit them on our laps and hold a book in front of them. They will hear the words, the expression in our voice, the patterns of speech. All are important in learning to read.

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