Teaching methods need attentionHarold Jackson's Feb. 14...

Letters

February 21, 1999

Teaching methods need attention

Harold Jackson's Feb. 14 column, "Smaller class size won't guarantee success," points out strong reasons for class size reduction, such as finding time for individual instruction, improving performance of ninth-graders on the high school assessment examination, and creating learning environments where students and teachers interact closely.

Each of these reasons is good enough for parents to want smaller classes, but if the student in a small class is to be denied success, as Mr. Jackson is suggesting could happen, we should not abolish the idea of small classes. We should correct the existing problem. If, as Mr. Jackson states, teachers remain shackled to old methods, it won't be the first time we have broken shackles.

James C. Adams

Ellicott City

The writer is an adjunct faulty member of the Community College of Baltimore County.

Robey appropriately recognized Ecker

Re: "Executive makes bond-rating trip bipartisan affair by inviting Ecker" (Feb. 8).

Congratulations to Howard County Executive James Robey for recognizing the accomplishments of former County Executive Charles I. Ecker in making Howard County the envy of every jurisdiction in Maryland.

Under the leadership of Mr. Ecker and former councilmen Charles Feaga, Darrel Drown and Dennis R. Schrader, Howard County has become home to the best school system in the state, the region's leader in job growth, while simultaneously maintaining the region's lowest taxes rates and a AAA bond rating.

In asking Mr. Ecker to accompany him to meetings with New York investment houses, Mr. Robey recognized Mr. Ecker's accomplishments. I hope that Mr. Robey will continue Mr. Ecker's legacy of fiscal discipline and thoughtful governance. He and the new County Council have big shoes to fill.

Boyd K. Rutherford

Columbia

Law change request was poor choice

What an amazing time to be alive. Bill Clinton gets off scot free and the Democrats keep on hammering. Now, we are being lead to believe that just because a lawyer didn't know the law, we are to change it to allow her to keep her duly elected seat.

It seems that attorney Sherae M. McNeal chose to run for Judge of the Orphans Court to replace my dear friend, Rosemary Ford. However, Ms. McNeal did not bother to find out if she was qualified to hold the seat under current state law.

She asked our elected leaders in Annapolis to pass a law allowing her to keep her seat.

Democrats seem to have a habit of changing the law to fit their needs. Del. James E. Malone, a career fire fighter, was not legally allowed to serve in the legislature four years ago, so the Democrats winked and turned the other way to pass a law allowing him to keep his seat. Now, Sherae M. McNeal has the same problem and wants a law passed to keep her seat.

Just look at what Mr. Malone did; he introduced a bill to provide better benefits at taxpayer expense for him and his fellow public service employees.

Democrats stand for lying, obstruction of justice and two systems of government -- one to handle us taxpayers, the other to allow people of power and influence to get there way.

David P. Maier

Elkridge

Council, expenses have rocky history

As far as ethics and personal expenses go, the previous Howard County Council was about as bad as they come. I checked its records several times after hearing stories raising serious concern. I asked the ethics board to review the situation. However, it refused to fulfill its responsibility. I would say that expenses should not be approved outside Maryland, unless the trip was requested by council members and related directly to Howard County government business.

The Howard County charter originally required that citizens approve any salary change. This language was changed when citizens were not reading their ballot questions carefully enough. The charter language reads that the council "salary shall be in full compensation for all services" (same in Baltimore and in Anne Arundel counties).

Allowance is made for expenses for government business to other Maryland counties.

During the Howard County Charter review in 1996, Charles Feaga asked the ethics committee chairman to recommend a change that would allow the council more freedom with county expense money. The recommendation was to add the word "nominal." Mr. Feaga and C. Vernon Gray placed this change on the ballot and citizens passed this clarification. Unfortunately, the legal meaning of "nominal expenses" is essentially zero.

Therefore, legally Mr. Gray has not been entitled to any big expenses. The current in-house dispute was in the range of personal expenses over 25 percent of his salary.

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