Report shows few public schools meet all standards The...

LETTERS

March 18, 2001

Report shows few public schools meet all standards

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) refers the writer of "Scores of all students needed to rate schools" (Howard letters, Feb. 4) to the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program Report released in January.

Each school in Howard County is assessed according to standards set for the state. Copies of the report are available from the board of education and on the Internet.

The NAACP also prepares two report cards, one for the total school population and one for African-American students. Neither report card reflects satisfactory progress in reading, writing, language usage, mathematics, science and social studies.

Of the 37 elementary schools in Howard County none met all standards for African-American students in the academic areas for grades three and five. Only two elementary schools, Manor Woods and Triadelphia Ridge, met all standards for the total population.

On the middle school level, only one of 17 Howard County middle schools met or exceeded state standards on the African-American student report card (Clarksville). No middle schools met the state standard in all subject areas on the total population report.

The high school ratings were based on functional tests in reading, mathematics and writing. Although they are used as a criterion for graduation. functional tests have an eighth-grade literacy level.

On the African-American report card, only one high school met or exceeded state standards (Centennial). On the total school population report card, all 10 high schools met or exceeded state standards for grades 9 and 11.

Certificates of merit were awarded to Clarksville Middle and Centennial High schools for the accomplishments reflected on their African-American report cards -- a first for Howard County.

The special NAACP focus on African-American student performance is based on long-term disparities that have been a concern for many years. This emphasis does not preclude our concern for the performance of all students.

On March 21, the NAACP will hold a community meeting to explain our report card to all interested persons.

Thelma R. Lucas

Columbia

The writer is president of the Howard County Branch of the NAACP.

Debating the issues isn't just `bickering'

There is a buzz in the Columbia community that there is too much "bickering" on the Columbia Council. This buzz is fostered by Columbia Council members Lanny Morrison, Pearl Atkinson-Stewart, Kirk Halpin and the Vote 01 group led by the Columbia establishment.

These folks want residents to think that actual debate of the issues is "bickering." This helps keep information from the public and distracts us from the real issues.

Let's examine what the bickering has been about: the Key property annexation; the horse center lease; the potential to substantially increase CA assessments on all Columbia property; the expenditure of $430,000 in nine months for legal fees without any explanation to elected representatives; the selection of a new president.

Is it legitimate to characterize the differences of opinion on these issues, each of which has a significant impact on Columbia and each property owner, as bickering? Clearly, my answer is no.

As an elected representative, it is my duty to gather all the facts before I make a decision.

Characterizing fact-finding and debate as bickering is an insult to all Columbians who believe there is more than one side to every story.

Cecilia Januszkiewicz

Long Reach

The writer represents Long Reach on the Columbia Council.

Campaign reform bill would level playing field

Like Del. Robert Kittleman, I support legislation sponsored by Del. John A. Hurson of Montgomery County which would create a public financing system for state legislative campaigns.

In 1998, I ran an underdog race for the House of Delegates against two entrenched incumbents.

My opponents outspent me several times over and, although I fared better than their past challengers, I still came up considerably short. Who did I run against? Mr. Kittleman and his counterpart, Del. Robert L. Flanagan.

Strangely, I don't recall Mr. Kittleman or Mr. Flanagan supporting public campaign financing in 1998.

The campaign spending caps in Mr. Hurson's bill -- $45,000 for a House campaign, $90,000 for a Senate campaign -- are reasonable and attainable for the vast majority of candidates, with the assistance of public financing. These figures also allow a candidate to run a winning campaign.

I see the Hurson bill as geared toward leveling the playing field, period. That's a good thing.

Mr. Hurson should be commended for sponsoring this important legislation. But Mr. Kittleman should be recognized for supporting legislation which, had it been enacted for the last election cycle, could well have cost him his seat.

Like they say: "Be careful what you wish for; you may just get it."

Bill Woodcock

Columbia

Interfaith worship enriches congregations

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