Questioning tests for special ed studentsChildren...

LETTERS

December 08, 1997

Questioning tests for special ed students

Children receiving special education services in Maryland schools will not be served well by the proposed series of high school assessment tests that State Schools Superintendent Nancy Grasmick wants all students to pass, with an unspecified grade, to receive a Maryland high school diploma.

There has been no discussion and certainly no resolution of the following concerns: How will the core learning goals curriculum be differentiated for students receiving special education services and who will pay for this?

How will the tests be modified to accommodate our students' unique situations and who will pay for that? Who will be eligible for remediation? How and where will it occur? How much will it cost?

We understand the importance of holding children accountable for their educational performance. However, our children struggle daily with many basic educational tasks. They work extremely hard trying to compensate for their difficulties and to learn the skills necessary to become productive citizens.

Without assurances that curriculum will be differentiated, testing modifications employed, and remediation made readily available, we cannot support the proposed high school assessment tests.

Ann Kenney

Cockeysville

The writer is chairman of the Citizen's Advisory Committee for Special Education of Baltimore County Public Schools.

The wonders of English language

Most English words have one, two or three letters that readers can't sound out correctly by applying phonics.

English spelling (unlike Spanish spelling, for example) is a vast chaos. The same letter or group of letters may represent different sounds; different letters and groups of letters may represent the same sound, and letters may even be silent.

In the following sentence, for example, how many different sounds for "o" do we hear: Two of those women once worked with wolves and common dogs?

In the next sentence, how many different spellings for circumflex "u" do we see: Fergie journeyed to the Third World for furs, pearls, myrrh and liqueur?

And how many silent letters do we find here: On a yacht, Boatswain Knight wrote a hymn, "Psalms for the Lamb"?

Similar sentences featuring many other sounds and many other letters I could dream up as well. But now I dream only of children learning to read by the old "look and say" method without the disappointment of phonics.

For nearly 40 years at the Churchville Elementary School in Harford County, a wise and thorough teacher, the late Carol Osborne Hackett, used this method with great success.

Henry Harlan

Churchville

Sauerbrey choosing the wrong issue

Like Sen. Alfonse M. D'Amato of New York, who is building his re-election campaign around criticizing the teachers in his state, Ellen Sauerbrey appears to have taken a page from that Republican's book to hone in on education as her platform.

Now, if she were running for mayor of Baltimore she'd have a platform to stand on. But she's not. She is again running for governor. She might take a statewide view before attacking the system. On a statewide basis, the system is alive and well.

If her "zero-tolerance" approach to school discipline were applied in Baltimore City, huge numbers of kids would be roaming the streets.

The situation in the city is bad enough. Mrs. Sauerbrey shouldn't kick it around for personal gain. It's bad form, and bad taste, to hold a press conference in front of a beleaguered high school. Does she really think she will gain the votes of Baltimore parents that way? No way.

Ms. Sauerbrey should stick to business. Maryland needs solutions to the growing economy.

Antonia V. Miner

Baltimore

Larry Young follows example of higher-ups

Sen. Larry Young is simply following the example set by most politicians in our country. The "good old boy" policy of scratching the back of those who scratch yours that white politicians have is now being used by African-American politicians as well. Why be surprised?

When our leading justice official Janet Reno doesn't choose to go after the president and vice president for breaking the law, it sends the message to other elected officials that they are above the laws of the common man and women.

We all accept a certain amount of corruption in our government. Power is a hard thing to handle. But when Senator Young cries racism, with a convicted felon at his side, I begin to think that The Sun really has something on him.

The senator is an elected official and should expect to have his doings looked at through a microscope. To cause racial friction at this special time of the year is unacceptable. He would have done better just keeping his mouth shut.

Barry Ford

Catonsville

Village needed to raise children

In Iowa, these days, we see an outpouring of American generosity, as both individuals and corporations open their hearts and wallets for the seven McCaughey babies.

Gifts of transportation, housing, food, clothing, services and an estimated $1 million hospital bill have been made to the family.

Folks throughout the country seem to realize that it will take more than just one family's financial and emotional resources to raise these children.

Yet when Hillary Rodham Clinton proposed that "It Takes a Village" to raise a child, her ideas were called socialist and branded as anti-family.

In Iowa, these days, the nation appears to support Mrs. Clinton's approach. But how about applying these same principles of community concern and care to the next seven crack-addicted babies born in any city in America?

Is there a different level of caring for fertility drug babies than there is for street drug babies?

Nancy Bowen

Towson

Pub Date: 12/08/97

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