Teacher training key to instructing children of different...

Letters to the Editor

June 16, 1998

Teacher training key to instructing children of different 0) abilities

I read with great interest Sara Engram's column "Lesson for teachers" (May 31) regarding the proposed recommendations for additional reading coursework in Maryland institutions of teacher education. I agree wholeheartedly with the points the column made.

I have been chairing the Maryland State Task Force on Reading for the past 14 months. We have reviewed more than 1,500 studies related to effective reading instruction. We've heard from nationally recognized experts and have looked at the practices at high-performing schools. Our conclusions could not be more clear: Students fail because they can't read.

To improve the quality of reading instruction in Maryland public schools, we must improve the skills of our teachers.

A combination of additional, more rigorous coursework and teacher performance assessment would serve as a very good start.

We should ensure that teachers receive training in reading instruction and assessment, learn how to deliver balanced reading programs to meet the needs of all students and learn to identify students at risk of failing because they are not learning to read early, so prevention and intervention programs can be delivered as soon as possible.

A balanced reading program, which has emerged as a key ingredient for success, has activities and strategies to improve word recognition and includes phonics instruction, reading meaningful text, writing and spelling exercises.

In reading instruction, there is no "one size fits all."

It is important for teachers to be equipped with a variety of approaches and strategies to meet the needs of their students.

We all agree that improvement is needed. For every month we delay, however, we are missing opportunities to reach children in our classrooms today.

!Patricia M. Richardson


The writer is superintendent of St. Mary's County public schools and chairwoman of the Maryland Task Force on Reading.

Give heroin maintenance a try instead of criticism

I want to thank The Sun for its article on the heroin maintenance program being discussed in Baltimore ("Test of 'heroin maintenance' may be launched in Baltimore," June 10). I feel new approaches to this problem should be applauded, not condemned before they are given a chance.

The drug war in this country during the past 25 years has been an appalling failure. We have wasted billions of taxpayers' dollars and have gotten nowhere. Our political leaders need to get their heads out of the clouds and stop spouting the same old rhetoric.

We need to get these people help, and I feel a program like this would go a long way to accomplish this.

Have we learned nothing from the Swiss study, or are we just closing our eyes to these results because of political pressures?

Prohibition has never worked in this country because freedom is an American way of life. As long as we have people we will have drug users, and we need to supply help for those who want it.

amuel Battista

Princess Anne

Bay has ground to cover before it makes a rebound

The headline "The bay bounds back" (June 3) was naive and misleading, as was in large part the article itself. The article cited significant reappearance of seaweed around the bay, which is indeed a hopeful sign; but a 50 percent increase in the tiny remnant the bay is "rebounding" from is still pitifully small.

People who think they see "bounding back," including apparently whoever set the "region's official restoration goal," don't remember how hard it used to be to row a boat through the seaweed in a cove at low tide, or being able to walk through the seaweed in four feet of water and see crabs on the bottom well enough to catch them.

Our bay has a very long way to go.

Van K. Nield


Story portrayed both sides of the motherhood dilemma

It was refreshing to see you present both sides of "The Mommy Rat Race" (June 9). There is a common misconception that stay-at-home moms have it easier than working moms. As a stay-at-home mom myself, I can say that it is not always as easy as it looks.

There should be mutual respect between moms at home and working moms instead of the so-called "mommy wars." Both decisions require sacrifice; neither situation is always ideal. The bottom line is that the children's welfare and well-being be a top priority.

Kathie R. Phillips

Baltimore The worst natural disaster of 1998 has been in progress in the plains of India ("At least 730 people killed in heat wave in eastern India," June 5). More than a thousand are dead, and untold millions are suffering from the worst heat wave in 50 years.

This story of horror rates a three-inch column in The Sun, one-tenth the space given to the death of a Nigerian dictator.

I have to wonder how editors choose what stories are important. Why are the American people not horrified by this terrible situation in India? Why are we not responding with massive gifts of food, of water, of cooking fuel?

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