Give kids enough time to learnBecause we know some...

Letters

March 07, 1998

Give kids enough time to learn

Because we know some children learn faster than others, can we reasonably expect "Reading by 9" for all children ("Same goal, different speeds," Feb. 22)?

Education is currently organized around an "average" learning speed, which, by definition, is too slow for some and too fast for others. Those who learn more quickly are accommodated with enrichment, gifted and advanced academic programs, and then with A's and B's.

Those who learn more slowly, if they do not have a "handicapping condition," which qualifies them for special education services, are doomed to what can only be termed "programmed failure"; they are dragged along at a speed that at best provides only exposure and results in ever-widening learning gaps.

Determined to find a magic formula to speed up the learning, we change superintendents and school board members, require specific methodologies and strategies, reconstitute schools, and threaten to fire principals and teachers.

Meanwhile a more common-sense solution stares us in the face.

All children can learn; some just need more time than others. Why don't we simply give the extended time to those who need it?

Ramona B. Ford

Baltimore

Scholarship plan discriminates

Gov. Parris N. Glendening's proposal to provide five-year scholarships of $3,000 per year to Maryland college students pursuing high-tech majors -- if they maintain a B average and work in the state after graduation one year for each year of aid -- is discriminatory.

Parents would not tell their children, "I'll give you $15,000 toward your college costs if you major in science, but if you don't, you can pay your own way." But this is what the governor is saying.

His proposal provides no aid to students in other courses, hard-working C-plus students and those with high-tech majors in out-of-state colleges.

Baltimore public schools ranked lowest in the nation in recent test results with only 9 percent of students showing basic achievement in math, science and reading. This means most of the beneficiaries of the governor's proposal will be from the more affluent areas of the state, with the least financial need.

We need competent teachers, particularly in Baltimore, more than we need a privileged class of science majors who may leave the state or change careers after graduation.

The governor's proposal is designed to offset the scarcity of workers qualified to fill high-tech positions, but companies can offer work-study programs to meet their needs and the problem can be solved without state subsidies.

John Naughton

Silver Spring

Chicken industry should pay own way

I am all for business and I like chicken as much as the next person, but my support of the poultry industry should be reflected by my consumption and not by subsidizing it with my tax dollars.

However, I'm upset that the Maryland General Assembly is letting that industry off the hook for its role in nutrient runoff to the Chesapeake Bay.

The outbreaks of Pfiesteria last summer prompted a firestorm of debate over the issue, both its repercussions and its solutions. Now, eight months later, we are still debating these topics.

We need to look only at two facts to realize what must be done.

First, everyone should be aware that scientific evidence clearly links polluted runoff of nutrients to the Pfiesteria outbreaks. Much of this runoff comes from the 400,000 tons of chicken manure produced annually by the chicken industry on Maryland's Eastern Shore. This manure contains twice as much phosphorus as all the human sewage produced in Maryland.

Second, consumption of Chesapeake Bay seafood went down some 80 percent during the crisis, causing huge problems for our crucial seafood industry. This alone demands action.

The General Assembly needs to take strong action this year to prevent this from happening again. Bills sponsored by the governor would do an excellent job of controlling nutrient runoff from farms, lawns, golf courses and sewage-treatment plants.

The bill offered by Sen. Christopher Van Hollen Jr., a Montgomery County Democrat, is desperately needed to make sure that the poultry industry takes responsibility for its chicken manure.

Farmers and taxpayers shouldn't have to absorb this cost, which in effect subsidizes the chicken industry.

Steven J. Sprouse

Forest Hill

Editorial seems to back favoritism

Your Feb. 25 editorial "As the blade turns," concerning the operation of a helicopter at Helmore Farm in Green Spring Valley, appears to support the contention that a zoning violation exists.

However, it trails off into an arena that appears to support the concept if someone is a member of the "Baltimore philanthropic community" and wishes to have a heli-stop on his 50 acres, that should be OK.

I am amazed and dismayed at this implication.

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