Farmers' story evoked powerful feelingsI was glad to see...

Letters

November 22, 1997

Farmers' story evoked powerful feelings

I was glad to see that Jackie Powder's story, "Not enough money in milk," Nov. 2, was published in the Sunday edition, a day when we read the paper instead of giving it just a quick morning glance. It is a story that needs telling.

I was lucky enough to grow up on a dairy farm. Our family farm was one of six linked in the Edgewood/Magnolia area of Harford County. These farms began in the 1800s and died in the 1970s. The Hanson name, once well-known in the community, now is known only as a road with tract housing, an aging family edifice, and, of course, a convenience store.

These farms met the fate of the real estate block rather than the auctioneer. There was no next generation to take over. The best use of the land was schools and parks and recreation fields.

I looked at the picture of farmer's wife Melba Hall and saw my mother and aunts and thought of the long, hard days they put in beside their husbands. My mother gave up a nursing career and carried milk cans every morning and evening. She prepared meals for eight men during harvest and haying and never complained.

I looked at farmer Terry Hall and saw the faces of my father, uncles and grandfather when the weather, broken machinery, sick and dying animals and exhaustion closed in on them.

None of my generation wanted to go into farming. My cousins all worked on the farm and knew they wanted to be able to take a day off. Our parents never had a vacation until the farm was sold.

Being a farmer brings with it a passion as great as that of any artist. I am proud to be of a farming family. I hope the strength that farming has given the Halls will see them into their next venture.

Dianne Hanson Nagel

Butler

Turn headlights on in rain or snow

Maryland lawmakers enacted a law requiring that vehicle headlights be turned on when using windshield wipers.

I think that this will eventually lead to safer travel on roads during rain and snow, with better visibility of vehicles.

But it appears that there are still people who have not gotten the word, including those driving Baltimore City and Baltimore County government vehicles, MTA buses and taxis.

Maybe, as a public service, radio and television stations could remind drivers to turn on headlights during their weather forecasts that include rain or snow.

Maybe the State Highway Administration could put this safety message on those huge electronic signs over the highways during inclement weather.

Maybe, after all this, people will finally turn those lights on.

eorge Peterson

Baltimore

Wyndham Hotel plan called 'just absurd'

My gratitude and compliments for your editorials regarding the Wyndham hotel project.

Any building of that size on that spot is just absurd.

To even consider this to be a Convention Center hotel site is simply ridiculous.

Ellen Hjelde

Baltimore

County schools want better readers

On behalf of Baltimore County Public Schools, I would like to express our appreciation to The Sun, its reporters, photographers and editors for the ''Reading By 9" series. There is no more timely topic in American education than the teaching of reading to our youngest students. This topic, like all complex issues, demands reasoned and informed discourse.

As your articles point out, the teaching of reading must be seen as more than a ''war" between phonics and whole language. There are enough battlegrounds in education. We do not need to create any more. We can, however, learn from what the best reading teachers and researchers have to tell us.

The best reading teachers recognize that children benefit from an understanding of the sound-letter relationships. That means phonics.

They recognize, as do the National Institutes of Health studies you cite in your articles, that the right ''mix" of instruction is

essential.

They recognize that teacher-training institutions have an obligation to prepare future teachers with deep knowledge and broad strategies to teach reading to all students.

They recognize that school systems have an equally strong obligation to ensure their teachers are given unequivocal leadership, appropriate curriculum and adequate, continual staff development.

They recognize that parental involvement in preparing children to read is essential.

We have learned from them. Approximately 2 1/2 years ago, we made the commitment to make deep-rooted changes in the way we teach reading in Baltimore County Public Schools.

We have instituted a countywide early reading program that is heavily based on phonics instruction. Our objective, as you report, is to have all students reading on grade level by the end of second grade.

We have instituted a reading program, based on the works of some of the very experts your articles quote. We have instituted a continuous staff development program that goes far beyond the one-hour session cited in one of the articles. Through these activities, we have trained hundreds of administrators, mentors and reading specialists to present this guide to the teachers who will bring it to life in their classrooms.

We are on the right track as we focus on the effective teaching of reading as the fundamental method by which we reach our primary goal of improving achievement for all students.

We commend The Sun for its wholehearted commitment to reading instruction. We invite you to follow our efforts, to report on them and maybe even participate in some of them, as we work toward a goal that is important to the future success of all students.

Anthony G. Marchione

Towson

SE

The writer is superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools.

Pub Date: 11/22/97

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