Retiring educator shows the way to better schools Best...

LETTERS

January 14, 2001

Retiring educator shows the way to better schools

Best wishes to Harriette C. Greenberg as she retires from the Howard County school system ("Turning over the reins," Jan. 3).

Anyone who has had the opportunity to follow her career or work with her over the years knows that she approaches every challenge with great energy, insight and common sense. This dedication has led to her success as a teacher, a counselor and an administrator.

It is no surprise that the middle school that achieved the highest composite scores in the state on the latest Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests, Clarksville Middle School, did so under her guidance as principal.

She attributes the school's success to a faculty dedicated to goal achievement and a philosophy that all teachers are teachers of reading and writing.

Common sense, one might say, but it is just the common sense that has been lacking during these past 50 years of change for change's sake in schools throughout the nation.

Teachers have been expected to convey subject material, but not to teach the means for their students to grasp it fully in their reading and then articulate it in their writing.

Fortunately, because of Ms. Greenberg's achievements, her methods will be studied and everyone will be able to learn the secret of her success.

Elizabeth H. Simon

Ellicott City

Toll booths aren't best way to fund roads

I have fussed and fumed in private for years about the arcane custom of exacting tolls from travelers on our public roads.

But now, with the Maryland State Highway Administration wrapping up a study that may recommend a variety of new tolls on Maryland highways, including U.S. 50, Interstate 270, Interstate 95 and Interstate 495 (yes, toll booths on the Capital Beltway, can you imagine?), I must speak out.

The rationale for these new tolls is that if drivers have to pay to use the roads, they will use alternate routes and congestion on the major routes will be reduced.

Exactly what are these alternate routes? U.S. 1? Rockville Pike? East-West Highway? These routes are congested in rush hour as well.

People will continue to use the best routes. And if you think our highways are congested now, wait until the lines start to form at the toll booths. The custom of toll collecting as a way of collecting revenue can be traced back at least as far as the Roman Empire, and probably further.

But we have a more efficient way of collecting revenue from road users. Instead of bringing drivers on high-speed roads to a screeching halt to wrest quarters and dollars from their hands, let us replace that revenue with what could be a microscopic increase in the gasoline tax.

Or perhaps, in this pleasant climate of revenue surpluses, we need not replace it at all.

So I say, let us not consider expanding this obsolete custom; rather, let us consider eliminating it. Then our beautifully designed highways can be used in the manner that was intended.

As for reducing traffic congestion -- and who does not embrace that objective -- I suggest that the transportation planners direct their time, energy and money to developing fast and efficient mass transit that goes where people want to go.

Gordon T. Trotter

Columbia

Huge homes defy county's rural character

In The Sun's article "Neighbors balk at plan for houses" (Jan. 7), some residents complained that a development of houses for seniors in the $200,000 price range would decrease the value of the larger $350,000 houses nearby.

Many of the older residents of Howard County feel that the new developments of large, $350,000 houses are unattractive and completely out of character with the rural, more colonial flavor of other Howard County homes.

I live in my wife's family home, which was built in 1902. Next door is another older home purchased by her great-grandfather right after the Civil War. Both are considered by many to be historic and charming.

But the new residents, with their concern for property values, might want these houses eliminated, too.

Those residents who really want their property values preserved should have built in Montgomery County, where all property values are very high and snobbery has already been lifted to an art form.

Robert Schulze

Elkridge

Donors to shelter help victims get a fresh start

The children's sparkling eyes, smiles and laughter were a much better indication of what your generosity meant than what I can ever say here. However, to the many friends and supporters of the Domestic Violence Center (DVC) this holiday season, thank you for making our annual holiday project a tremendous success.

Your gifts of toys and clothing helped bring joy to 225 people, victims of domestic abuse and their children -- especially the children.

Throughout the year, DVC provides counseling, safe houses, legal assistance, a 24-hour hot line (410-997-2272) and other services to victims of domestic abuse. Often, battered women and their children come to us with little more than a suitcase and the courage to contact us for help.

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