Success in reading depends on staffs as well as methodYour...

Letters to the Editor

March 24, 1998

Success in reading depends on staffs as well as method

Your March 15 article on reading methods, "Texas reading scores rocket," was very interesting, but it seems to cry out for a lot more investigation. Why is a 30-year-old method that has been the subject of many test applications across the country still so controversial?

Our children attended a California school that used the Open Court reading program about 20 years ago. Is this business of phonics vs. whole language a lot of hype? Are the differences more a matter of who is selling it or profiting from it than any understanding of the reading process?

Someone should examine the administrations and staffs at the schools where Open Court and other methods are tested. Do the apparent differences in performance depend on factors other than those in the theories of the competing methods (such as more work, good administration, competent teachers, small classes or involved parents)?

It is conceivable that the theories have little to do with the successes or failures of the different methods.

It is impossible to conduct an unbiased experiment in which the administration, teachers, parents and students are unaware that anything has changed, so they put no extra effort into ensuring the success of the experiment. I wonder how often an outstanding principal is chosen to head up a test program, and he or she cherry-picks the teachers.

The focused school community works extra hard, and scores increase. Our school in California might have been such a case. If only a few of those contaminating factors apply, the results of a test will be skewed. In the tests that have been conducted, how have the results been corrected for outside influences?

David R. Kohler

Ellicott City

Defeat of legislation on drunken driving wrong

Shame on the Judiciary Committee of the Maryland House of Delegates.

The members of that committee have failed in their responsibility to protect Marylanders. Their decision to kill legislation to reduce blood-alcohol levels for drunken-driving convictions protects the small percentage of drunken drivers that continues to cause death and injury to innocent victims in this state.

Did the legislators consider my right to drive without having a habitual drunken driver injure my family or myself?

The committee showed its qualifications to govern our state. The members should be put in charge only of such issues as choosing a state dinosaur. I certainly don't trust them to make important decisions.

Alex P. Gross

Owings Mills

Curran's insurance deals merit more investigation

Thank you for the superb investigative reporting you did in the matters of former state Sen. Larry Young and former Del. Gerald J. Curran.

I have one remaining concern on the Curran issue. Further investigation should be made into the insurance contracts Mr. Curran negotiated, and the portion of those contracts that entitle him to receive tens of thousands of dollars in commissions should be voided.

Is there legal basis for voiding the entire contracts so that insurance sales people who do not have Mr. Curran's advantage could try to sell the coverage to the state employees?

It would be to the employees' advantage for the contracts to be negotiated again, under true competitive bidding. Unless those contracts can be renegotiated, Mr. Curran has marched out of the legislature to the standing ovation of his colleagues and then laughed all the way to the bank.

ohn H. Tucker

Baltimore

Catholic hospitals, patients have freedom of choice

Thank you for your well-written and well-thought-out March 12 editorials "Lost in suburban hospital merger" and "Gag order reappears in Congress."

As a staunch believer in freedom of choice, I concede the right of a Catholic hospital to follow its belief. However, I regret that the Greater Baltimore Medical Center would consider abandoning its belief for money.

Although in my case, abortion is purely academic, I would not let a doctor send me to GBMC for anything if this merger goes through.

Mildred K. Sheff

Baltimore

I'm offended that GBMC's policy of performing elective abortions is presented as proof of its commitment to women.

The 19th-century feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton had a more realistic view of abortion: "When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to dispose of as we wish."

If GBMC's physicians truly want to serve women, they can begin by following the lead of St. Joseph Medical Center and demonstrating the basic respect for human life that we expect our doctors to have.

Maureen O'Reilly

Roche Odenton A motor speedway proposed on a premier waterfront location that is zoned heavy industrial is a gross misuse of land.

When the economic impact of a proposed port of Baltimore operation is weighed against a speedway, there's no contest. With the competitiveness of the East Coast ports, it is unthinkable that the Maryland Port Administration would consider other uses for this property.

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