Illogical spellings mean phonics can only take us so far...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 25, 2001

Illogical spellings mean phonics can only take us so far

I enjoyed The Sun's editorial regarding the importance of phonics and I am glad to see phonics getting more attention ("Dropping the ball," May 14). However, every time I read about phonics, there is always mention of the conflict between phonics and whole language.

Look, book, cook, food: Our language is filled with examples of illogical spelling. English is not spelled phonetically and phonics is thus guaranteed to have limited applicability. Who hasn't chuckled at the T-shirt that proclaims: "Hooked on fonics werkd fer me!" ?

What we really need is a national program to switch to phonetic spelling.

At the same time, there is obviously a need for whole-language instruction. Reading one word at a time accomplishes little if one cannot meaningfully combine words into thoughts.

But there should be no conflict whatsoever between the two camps. We should agree to switch to phonetic spelling. Children would quickly learn to read individual words. Emphasis could then be placed on whole language.

Why not cooperate and make reading easier for everyone?

Stephen Haase, Columbia

The real keys to good schools

It is discouraging that the CEO of the Baltimore public school system has such a poor grasp of educating the young ("Teachers key to good schools in Baltimore," Opinion*Commentary, May 16).

There are many keys to good schools:

Parents, who have a responsibility to prepare their children for learning.

Students, who must understand that their place during these years is working to learn to prepare themselves for life.

The school system, which must provide a learning environment with the discipline, facilities and materials teachers need to teach.

Teachers, who must provide education, not indoctrination. They must understand that presenting one point of view is propaganda, presenting two points of view leads to discussion and presenting more points of view approaches understanding.

But when teachers begin to believe that "equality of output" is a valid teaching goal, it's time for them to find another job

Dick Tatlow, Marriottsville

The officers Norris sacked had undermined the law

The police colonel who fabricated a report in an effort to get an underling deserved to be fired; so did the deputy police commissioner for defending one of his cops caught in an illegal sex club while on duty ("Norris adamant on firing removal of 2 black officers," May 16). Both men tried to subvert the law.

It is unfortunate that these two officers are African-Americans, but crying "racism" does not alter those facts.

Two white officers were fired at the same time, undoubtedly for good reason. Does anyone care? Obviously not.

Bettina Jenkins, Baltimore

Controversy offered glimpse of Dixon's lack of expertise

A lot of bad feelings have stemmed from the firings of the four officers by Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris.

But I would like to note one of the benefits of this controversy: Once again, City Council President Sheila Dixon has shown that she does not have the expertise or character to be mayor.

C. D.Wilmer, Baltimore

Larry Young is just a bully with a bullhorn

I sympathize with Michael Olesker for subjecting himself to two hours of disinformation during Larry Young's morning show ("Larry Young does city no favors with tirade," May 15).

Mr. Young plays the "black card" far too often and not very well. He neutralizes himself by crossing the credibility line to become ridiculous and invalid.

As an African-American who would like intelligent, responsible discussion about issues crucial to the black community, I have given up on finding it in the discussions Mr. Young forces toward whatever will get him the greatest ratings.

Tracy L. Smith Jr., Baltimore

Larry Young should be ashamed of himself. When we should be working together to make our city safer and better, there is no excuse to be using phrases such as the "bleaching of Baltimore." Such racist and divisive remarks divide our city.

City Councilman Norman A. Handy Sr. and state Sen. Clarence M. Mitchell IV should be condemning Mr. Young's remarks, not attacking Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris.

Mr. Young is no more than a bully with a bullhorn.

John M. Compher, Baltimore

It's strangers, the unknown that prompt people's fear

In his column "This Knick delivers with particularly foul shot" (May 9), Gregory Kane suggests that people who lock their car doors after seeing a black man nearby are guilty of racial prejudice.

I'm a white male and I often hear the sound of car doors locking as I pass by vehicles which are occupied but at a stop.

Recently, I walked by a van headed out of a McDonald's parking lot. I heard a voice from inside, then the clamping down of the locks. I read the words "Church of God" painted on the side of the van.

But it was not my skin color that threatened the occupants, but the fact that I was a stranger. Not knowing me, how could they trust me?

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