Housing program shelved by cityThe writer is president of...

SATURDAY MAIL BOX

January 03, 1998

Housing program shelved by city

The writer is president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

'Reading by 9' series called too simplistic

I applaud the effort of your staff writers in emphasizing the importance of reading to a child's aca- demic, personal and professional success.

There, however, my kudos end. The Sun's "Reading by 9" series includes misrepresentation and an alarmist tone that sensationalizes rather than informs. I was particularly struck by the limited research base of this series.

By focusing on only one aspect -- "cutting edge" brain research -- the series reduced the enormous complexity of the process of learning to read to a simplistic, single answer: learn "phonics." Even Reid Lyon, whose research is the basis of The Sun's series, cautions against engaging in the phonics versus whole language debate.

Teachers must develop reading instructions that includes phonics and much, much more. Can future teachers learn this complex task of teaching reading by taking only one college course? Of course not.

Yet in a bold headline, The Sun claimed that this is the case. (A quick survey of the catalogs of teacher education programs at Maryland higher education institutions shows that most teacher candidates are already required to take the four reading courses recommended in The Sun's series.)

My greatest concern about the series is that the focus on negative exemplars poses the danger of ignoring educators' successes, and thus generating less than productive responses the problem. What is needed is a clear understanding of the complexity of preparing our nation's youth for the 21st century.

I appeal to the editors and writers of The Sun to more fully examine the issues of reading education and to recognize that the history of education in this country is a history of unproductive swings in the curricular pendulum, in response to public outcry against schools' performance.

Nancy Michelson

Salisbury

The writer is assistant professor of education at Salisbury State University.

Decoy animals work poaching stake-outs

Your recent articles prove the idea of decoy deer idea works.

To maintain the delicate balance between consumptive and non-consumptive use of natural resources, the state Department Natural Resources police must rely on creative enforcement efforts for deterrent purposes. Much like a parked police car assists with speed control in selected areas.

So tip the hat to the dedicated police everywhere.

Bob Grate

Baltimore

No wonder police can't stop drug flow

Recently as I crossed the Maryland line from Delaware, I was astounded to see a large blinking road sign reading:

"Caution -- drug sniffing dogs two miles ahead."

What is the intent of this sign, a warning to drug transporters to discard their load or to take an alternate route so they are not caught?

I am confused. I thought police checkpoints were set up to catch criminals, not warn them to alter their routes. Why don't we have signs posted saying: "Caution, prostitutes ahead are undercover police," or "Warning, speed trap one mile ahead"?

Can anyone in government explain the reasoning for giving the transporters of death to our children this opportunity to bypass the police and complete their mission?

George Kropkowski

Baltimore

Bureaucrats close inspection station

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the Harford County Vehicle Emission Inspection Program station to find it closed the day after Christmas.

The ticket they sent me clearly included Dec. 25 as a date to be closed, but no mention was made of the 26th.

The other nine people who showed up while I was there were equally surprised. Given the controversy about this test, one might expect better notice than a sign on the door that they were closed.

Why do these bureaucrats try so hard to provide support for the anti-government conservatives' claim that government just doesn't care?

Jonathan Harlow

Phoenix

Education leader deserves accolade

Congratulations to The Sun for recognizing Nancy Grasmick as a Marylander of the Year. Dr. Grasmick is committed to curriculum reform that prepares students for success in an increasingly technology-driven world. Her methods for assessing student progress are consistent with measures of excellence employed by high-performance organizations in business, government and education.

She has encouraged school-business partnerships leading to genuine reform and innovation. One example is the Sollers Point Southeastern Technical High School in Baltimore County. Working with area businesses, such as Bethlehem Steel, school leaders created nationally recognized exemplary programs.

Dr. Grasmick works with business leaders, business organizations and economic development secretary James Brady to respond to the gap between what is taught in school and the skills required at work. This is essential for education reform to be meaningful.

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