Parents should turn off the TV, give kids booksAs an...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 18, 1999

Parents should turn off the TV, give kids books

As an elementary school teacher, I read with interest The Sun's articles on early reading.

I am sure that all elementary teachers reading the May 14 article about little Julie's problems beginning to read, "The pieces come together," diagnosed her problem immediately: Little Julie has a television in her bedroom.

I spend a lot of time trying to convince my fourth-graders that time spent in front of screens (television and video) directly and negatively impacts their learning.

Children, particularly young ones just beginning to relate sounds and symbols, need to spend time with books -- either read to them by a parent or just exploring on their own.

A rich life of words and ideas is the most important bedrock for learning to read and write successfully.

Television watching should be a limited activity under close parental supervision for a very small part of a child's day.

It saddens me that so many children miss opportunities that are there for them if only so much of their time was not spent watching mindless television.

Parents need to turn off the television and offer children the world of reading at home. No school can do as much for the early development of children.

Catherine Carpenter Weber, Catonsville

Parents and families are what work for kids

I would like to thank Dan Rodricks and The Sun for the May 12 article "The only Littleton antidote: parents."

I agree wholeheartedly that the remedy for our culture's fears and anxieties, and the solutions for the problems young people face, are found in the home.

It is families that work. We will not find the answers in the legislature, schools, town meetings, or the National Rifle Association or American Civil Liberties Union.

Parents must focus on their families and take responsibility for protecting their children from the negative influences that bombard them.

D. Riehl, Reisterstown

Efforts to clear the air are making a difference

Like much of the nationwide media coverage, your May 1 article on the EPA's proposal for new emissions standards ("New EPA rules target gasoline, SUVs") missed the purpose behind new standards: cleaner air.

U.S. air quality has improved dramatically in recent decades.

According to the EPA's recent report on national air quality trends, emissions of six major pollutants have decreased by 31 percent since 1970, the year the Clean Air Act took effect, even as the U.S. population grew by 31 percent, gross domestic product increased 114 percent and vehicle miles traveled increased 127 percent.

These improvements testify to the efforts of government, industry and individuals working together for a cleaner environment.

Unfortunately, most Americans are unaware of this progress. A recent nationwide survey found that 61 percent believe that air quality has deteriorated over the past decade, and 55 percent expect air quality to get worse over the next decade.

We need to continue our efforts to achieve cleaner air. However, an informed discussion on future progress requires a historical perspective on the progress that has been achieved.

William D. Fay, Washington

The writer is president of the Foundation for Clean Air Progress.

Marine training was good for at least one youth

I couldn't disagree more with the letters that criticized The Sun's May 5 article "The few, the proud, the kids," ("Marine Corps training isn't right for kids," May 12).

At the age of 8, I became a member of the Junior Marine Corps, a group organized by a local Marine Corps engineer battalion stationed at Fort McHenry in the early 1950s.

We learned how to march, take orders, be a part of a team, be proud of our accomplishments and, most importantly, how to honor our parents.

For me, this last was very important because I was a product of a broken home.

I've always cherished what these Marines taught me. I think today's kids would benefit from good old-fashioned discipline.

John Ballard, Hunt Valley

Send aid, not bombs to Balkan civilians

Nero, the insane Roman emperor, played the fiddle while Rome burned. President Clinton fiddles with media violence while Yugoslavia burns.

NATO and Clinton's apologies for killing Chinese diplomats and Yugoslav civilians are insincere and deceitful. A real apology includes the words, "And I won't do it again."

But NATO and Clinton intend to keep bombing and, inevitably, kill more civilians. Chinese outrage is appropriate.

We need the wisdom and courage to admit that, without sending ground troops to fight in and occupy Kosovo for many years -- an unacceptable choice -- we just cannot force the Serbs and the ethnic Albanians to do what we want.

It's time to save face by facing reality.

Rather than wasting billions to lay waste to Yugoslavia, we should invest in ethnic Albanian refugees and their new countries. The billions we are now spending bombing could intead make them the envy of the Balkans.

Building lives wins the future. Bombing fiddles away NATO's credibility and withers our souls.

Bob Kransnansky, Ellicott City

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