Pasadena deserves independent leadership I wanted to...

LETTERS

November 18, 2001

Pasadena deserves independent leadership

I wanted to commend Pasadena Councilwoman Shirley Murphy for the best decision she has made in her tenure on the County Council. I am speaking of course of her decision to step down from the Chairmanship of the Council. Her time in that position, as well as in the council seat, has shown her to be an inept, unconcerned leader with no vision for the Pasadena peninsula.

When questioned on the growth in Pasadena, she has no answers and refers constituents to PACE for answers. She has provided no leadership or vision on the issue of public water, choosing instead to mock those who approach her with concern for their health and safety and relies on biased reports to make her decisions. She has shown that she clearly lacks the competence to even follow Roberts Rules of Order and complete a council meeting in a timely fashion.

The people of Pasadena need leadership. They need a leader who can act independently of the County Executive, who can provide a clear vision for the shape of the Pasadena peninsula in the years to come, and who is not afraid to stand up for Pasadena rather than paying off political debts to the county leadership.

I believe that Pasadena will find that leadership in the coming election cycle, and Mrs. Murphy will be free to spend more time at her day job.

Rob Hennigar

Pasadena

Math curriculum not made for students

Should the math curriculum in Anne Arundel County be designed for the benefit of administrators or students? For Algebra I at least, the answer appears to be administrators.

The problem for the County's math coordinators is that they don't want to give the "answers" to the students. If they did, they'd create a lot of work for themselves. Each year they'd have to provide new problem sets. Otherwise, Johnny in Algebra 1 would give his little sister, Susie, the answers when she got to Algebra I. Susie would then have an unfair advantage.

In practice, the result is that teachers cannot give detailed written feedback to students' homework, cannot let students keep their tests, and cannot give students' written answers to the test.

This might be OK if the students were asked for simple quantitative answers (e.g., 2 + 2 = 4) to simple quantitative questions (e.g., "What is the sum of 2 + 2?") But, to a large extent, what distinguishes an A from a C grade is a student's qualitative response (e.g., "The reason the answer to 2 + 2 = 4 is that combining the commutative law of mathematics with the cardinal basis of our number system, the increment of two to the cardinal number of 2 progresses through 3 and arrives at 4, the answer.") There is thus a tendency toward a pronounced and disturbing discrepancy between what is actually taught in the classroom and tested on exams.

To an alarming extent, wealthy and sophisticated Anne Arundel parents address problems in the Algebra I curriculum by hiring tutors for their children. But clearly, this is not an option for most children. The best solution would be to give the children ample written feedback, including the complex qualitative verbal explanations favored by the administrators.

Of course, God forbid, they could also give the kids a math textbook with clearly worked out problems and solutions. As it stands, the verbal explanations provided by the administrators are so poor that some classroom teachers have to rewrite them. Administrators will scream that it is too much work for them to come up with new tests and problems sets each year.

But it is their job to put the children's interest first, not their own.

And that is the critical ingredient missing in the math curriculum.

Jim Snider

Severna Park

Press ignores cause of schools' controversy

In all of the articles and now this editorial ("A good decision made at a bad time," Nov. 9), regarding the decision of the State Board of Education to require Anne Arundel County to adjust students' schedules midyear in order to be compliant with state educational requirements, barely anything has been written about how this situation arose.

Not one word has been printed about the option of reversing the Anne Arundel County Board of Education's decision to instate double Language Arts periods without devising a way to meet the students' needs in other areas. It was that decision, made by the board in spite of a large public outcry requesting further investigation into ways to meet all students' educational needs, that caused the situation in which the county now finds itself.

Why have the newspapers not reported on the obvious option of reversing that decision, removing the second Language Arts period, and returning to the drawing board to come up with a plan to allow students to benefit from all of the classes offered to them? There is only one answer: "fixing."

MSPAP scores are more important than the balanced education of our students.

Carol Lamb

Millersville

Replace school board and help education

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