7-point plan to fix what ails schoolsI am distressed that...


May 23, 1999

7-point plan to fix what ails schools

I am distressed that our children and grandchildren are born into a culture of violence and death, suffering inevitable consequences of fear. Schools can do some things to improve the circumstances under which our children live and learn. They are:

Adopt a dress code that would be uniform, attractive and utilitarian. The code would be mindful of cold and warm weather, adapted to individual differences, and unadorned with emblems relating to athletics, band, chorus, debate or other student activities.

Abolish standardized testing with the exception of the SAT. Good teachers know what their children can and cannot do. These tests ignore the possibility of other abilities or intelligence, including musical or mechanical, and they overlook emotional drives such as empathy, sympathy, kindness and the negatives of brutality and indifference. Beyond these, standardized testing casts a pall of fear over the school. Comparisons will be made which have no bearing on the quality of teaching or administration of the school. Fear, rather than hate, is thought by some to be the opposite of love -- the keystone of our Christian faith. We need schools full of love, not its opposite, fear.

Reconsider the gifted and talented or honors program. To some extent, these programs represent a capitulation to parents who think that their children will someday save the world and deserve something better or more advanced than that given to most children and provided in a segregated situation where the average kid cannot benefit. Such a program is unnecessarily divisive. Those who support them should look at the lists of those who did poorly in school, including Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Ludwig van Beethoven. Intelligence is a form of wealth, which, like other forms of wealth, should be shared.

Abolish retention, except in cases of underdeveloped children, who, with their parents' agreement, want to be retained. Many studies reveal that retention does not help children and often makes them worse. It adds to the problems which made the child fail in the first place.

Give every child a free lunch. I observed this in Finland in 1972. I suspect that this is still the practice in Scandanavian countries today.

Institute courses or units in conflict resolution.

Saturate the school with art. Robert Ingersoll wrote, "Art accomplishes by indirection. The beautiful refines. The perfect in art suggests the perfect in conduct The heart is softened by the pathos of the perfect."

On their own, children should learn what the prophets and writers in the Scriptures say about gentleness as opposed to violence, and life as opposed to death. And finally, they should understand that, in accord with our Pledge of Allegiance, we are, "one nation under God."

Frank Ulargny, Taneytown

If Democrats awake, there's fuel for revival

I awoke the other night in a cold sweat. I couldn't put my finger on the problem although I instinctively knew something was missing. As I pondered what it could be, a light bulb appeared. The glow illuminated a vision in big block capital letters, "The Democratic Party, you jerk."

Do we have a Bureau of Missing Political Parties? Have the members of the Democratic Central Committee been abducted by aliens? I would ask our sheriff to look into it, but he is a Democrat born again as a Republican and probably would say, "Good riddance."

I really hope the Martians will return them with instructions to wake up and take the opportunities presented by the current group of officials to light a fire under the voters.

I would like to suggest a start for this political revival. First, file a taxpayer suit against the school board for misuse of tax dollars in the recent overruns, failed waste system construction, private property encroachment and more than $5 million in pending lawsuits.

As a registered Republican, I will probably be considered a turncoat, but I really would like to see this county become a part of the multiple party system.

Jack Winder, Westminster

Carroll Squadron is far from a fading institution

We wish to express our concerns about the article written about the Carroll Composite Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol. Brenda Buote's May 12 article, "A Fading Aerial Watchdog," appeared by its very title to indicate that the Carroll Composite Squadron's best days are long behind us, and that our missions of emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs are rapidly coming to an end.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Although our local squadron can trace its roots to World War II, we, like any viable organization, have evolved, adapted and grown with the times.

Last year, the Maryland Wing (of which the Carroll Squadron is a part) engaged in no less than 58 Air Force assigned emergency services missions.

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