Nonprofit agencies can bring after-school enrichment to kids
Thank you for Kate Shatzkin's insightful article "After-school projects get new support" (Jan. 16).
Research findings from New York's Carnegie Corp. on after-school programs operated by the Boys & Girls Clubs show that recreation and social activities can be integrated into academic improvement activities.
The "dangerous hours" between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. can become "learning hours" through a mix of discussion groups with caring adults, leisure reading, service-learning projects, homework help, and fun writing activities such as poetry journals, e-mail pen pals and newspaper clubs.
"Project Learn," the education enhancement program developed by Boys & Girls Clubs of America, was rigorously evaluated by Columbia University's School of Social Work.
They found that, when compared with a control group, club participants had a 15 percent higher overall grade point average and grades 16 percent higher in math, 20 percent higher in history, 14 percent higher in science and 20 percent higher in spelling.
Moreover, these after-school success-story kids had 87 percent fewer school absences and were 22 percent less likely to try illegal drugs.
The secret? Boys & Girls Clubs provide these children with "high-yield learning activities" that are fun after school for 25 to 35 hours per week.
While there can be a role for schools in providing after-school programs, policymakers should remember that community-based nonprofit agencies can provide quality after-school programs that improve school performance and attendance.
The writer is executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harford County, Maryland Inc.
Good public schools create good citizens
The League of Women Voters of Baltimore County strongly opposes the proposal to allocate public monies for any use in private or parochial schools.
Like many other advocacy organizations, we believe an educated electorate is the cornerstone of a democratic society. Every person should, therefore, have access to free public education that provides equal opportunity for all.
Diverting public money to private schools will have a negative economic impact on public schools, especially in poorer areas.
Currently, our public schools face pressing needs for highly qualified teachers, updated textbooks and other basic materials, adequately stocked and staffed school libraries, staff development programs, maintenance of existing facilities and new school construction.
Therefore, the league believes it is an inappropriate use of public revenues to support students who, for whatever reason, choose not to attend public schools.
These monies would be better used for state-supported public education.
The writer is president of the League of Women Voters, Baltimore County.
Gonzalez case shows need to make peace with Cuba
The continuing farce over the Elian Gonzalez case illustrates once again the urgent need for this country to make its peace with the government of Cuba.
We are now witnessing an absurd spectacle of Congress members, judges and political candidates devising all manor of ways to circumvent this nation's laws and international obligations in an effort to keep this poor 6-year-old boy here.
A citizen of any other nation would have been immediately returned to his homeland and his father. And opinion polls indicate this is precisely what most Americans favor.
But the country's abnormal relations with Cuba has allowed right-wing Cuban Americans to once again manipulate a situation into an international incident.
They have their private vendetta against Castro. But we (the vast majority of Americans) should tell them that that is their private quarrel, not a matter of vital national interest.
We should no longer let them hold U.S. foreign policy hostage to their feud. It is time to move forward and recognize Cuba.
Will Glendening subsidize gun purchases, too?
So Gov. Parris N. Glendening is willing to use taxpayer money to subsidize the research to develop "smart gun" technology ("Firearms research proposed," Jan 13).
Since the price of legal handguns will greatly increase if the governor's proposal is made law, I hope Mr. Glendening will be as quick to subsidize their sale to law-abiding citizens who otherwise would not be able to afford guns.
David A. Titus
Misrepresented missile test deserved more attention
The Sun recently published an Associated Press report disclosing that the Pentagon withheld information on the "successful" test of a missile defense system in October ("Test of missile defense system less successful than reported," Jan 15).
Reports at the time of the test proclaimed it an unqualified success (" `Kill vehicle' intercepts ICBM in successful test," Oct. 3); however, it is now apparent that the hit on a mock nuclear warhead was actually a fortuitous accident.