November 19, 1998

MSPAP examination is preferred method for measuring skills

Mary Maushard's article ("Teacher's union seeks MSPAP changes," Nov. 10) provides insight into teacher perspectives on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) while raising some important concerns.

I agree with those surveyed that "the MSPAP is an important tool in improving student achievement." It measures good teaching practices and encourages active learning to help all children succeed. Not only does the MSPAP help me deliver high-quality instruction, it prepares my students for the real world.

Increasing high technology and the global workplace require a solid grasp of the basics as well as cooperation, problem solving, and application of knowledge. These are the heart of MSPAP.

Therefore, I was discouraged to read survey results reporting that "a majority [of teachers] said that more traditional tests . . . are more useful than MSPAP." Conventional multiple-choice tests require students to recognize and recall facts by selecting the best response. Through performance assessment, we empower students to apply their knowledge and explain the reasoning behind their answers.

Which is more useful? I believe that measuring students' actual performance on complex tasks will better prepare this generation to compete in the real world.

Our children cannot succeed without a definition of success. The MSPAP answers the most basic question for Maryland's students, parents and teachers: What should our children know and be able to do?

Rachael Younkers


D8 The writer is the 1999 Maryland teacher of the year.

Appreciate best teachers who ensure bright futures

In an article echoing with truth, Maryland Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick put into words the predicament that the United States has begun to acknowledge and grapple with: We need to demonstrate respect for our teachers ("A teacher shortage strategy," Nov. 12, Opinion Commentary).

The decline in the quality of our education reflects a decline in the incentives our system offers to high-caliber teachers. We should show our appreciation for teachers who give of themselves daily for the benefit of our children.

We can all look back and remember a teacher who "made the difference" for us. Will our children be able to do the same?

Yona Schwab


Elections no referendum on Clinton impeachment

The political pundits on television, radio and in newspapers are claiming that the people of this country, in the last election, decided that President Clinton should not be impeached.

I thought I was voting in a local election, not a national one. Where was that item on the ballot: impeach, not impeach?

Does the loss of five Republican seats means the impeachment process is dead and that President Clinton is going to get away with perjury before a federal grand jury?


Mary P. Felter


Journalists, including those in The Sun, continue to tell me how I voted in the elections earlier this month. You and they are wrong.

My vote was cast for local candidates based on incumbents' voting records and performance in office compared with challengers. The president was not an issue or factor in decisions made.

I feel certain most voters did the same thing, not only in Maryland, but across the country.

The members of the fourth estate, including those at The Sun, owe the citizens an apology for being so presumptuous and insulting our intelligence.

Richard L. Lelonek


Jim Wright was no victim of Newt Gingrich in 1989

Your headline "Wright, victim of Gingrich in 1989, not gloating now" (Nov. 12), proclaiming former House Speaker Jim Wright a victim of Newt Gingrich was a disturbing example of revisionism.

Mr. Wright used a sham book deal to pad his personal income, resigning in disgrace when his actions were publicly disclosed. In doing so, he brought discredit to the legislative body over which he presided and to the constituents he had pledged to faithfully represent.

Mr. Gingrich's political decline does not detract from the seriousness or veracity of Mr. Wright's misdeeds.

Richard J. Cross III


Black community's debate over columnist Kane

Harry Levin's letter ("Column insults black voters who voted their interests," Nov. 12) had a premise that intrigued me. He asked whether The Sun could find a columnist more representative of blacks than Gregory Kane.

I am black, and the controversy in our community is whether Mr. Kane is an Uncle Tom, a debate he sometimes writes about in his column.

Orisha Kammefa


Is area starting to realize value of its native talent?

What a wonderful article by Rafael Alvarez on Michael Baker, the home-grown city parks chief ("New park boss feels at home," Nov. 12).

This, combined with Harford County's decision to make Jacquelyn Haas, a longtime school employee, its superintendent, could signal a trend.

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