MSPAP helps teachers use real-life applications I am a...

LETTERS

February 10, 2002

MSPAP helps teachers use real-life applications

I am a fifth- grade classroom teacher at Mayo Elementary, a National Blue Ribbon School in Anne Arundel County. I feel the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program has guided teachers toward utilizing problem-based, real-life applications for the students today.

MSPAP encourages teachers to use cooperative learning structures so students can solve problems which will prepare them to enter their work force. Let me give you an example of a two-day fraction activity my students were engaged in at the culmination of our unit. The students worked in cooperative groups to determine the effect a ramp height has on the sliding distance of an object. The mathematical skills and concepts involved in this one activity included: communication (writing a letter), problem solving and reasoning, real-world connections, fractions (measuring distance), decimals, statistics (graphing and interpreting data), and measurement (using a ruler).

MSPAP takes students' ... skills and asks the students to apply them in a problem-based situation. This ... leads to increased time on task by students as well as active, hands-on participation. ...

I am proud to be a teacher in Maryland. I believe that this assessment helps to prepare today's children to meet the demands of the 21st century.

Deneen J. Houghton

Mayo

School air conditioning: a necessity, not a perk

As a parent of Rolling Knolls Elementary students, we are one of the approximately 45 county schools without air-conditioning. About 16 of these schools are scheduled for complete overhauls, including installation of central air conditioning units in the next several years.

However Rolling Knolls and about 28 other schools are not scheduled for overhaul for many years. Window air conditioning will bridge the gap until total overhauls are undertaken. To add window units to these schools costs about $150,000 each as opposed to about $1 million per school for central air conditioning.

Howard, Montgomery, Calvert, and Kent County school systems have air conditioning. No single budget item has the potential to make more voters happy because families from 5,000 children across the county are affected.

Scholars cite improved behavior and test scores in properly controlled climates. We have competitive teachers and staff who came expecting professional working conditions. Let's not give them or prospective hires reason to avoid Anne Arundel schools.

Ten percent of children have asthma. Allergens such as pollen, fungi and ragweed are prevalent in the early morning and, when not filtered from classroom air, are triggers for setting off asthma.

Air conditioning is not a perk. It is not frivolous. It is a basic issue of common sense and equity. The County Executive, her Planning Advisory Board, the county council, the school board, most of the principals and nearly every reader of this paper have air-conditioning. ...

This school board should move this up to a higher priority. ... This is nearly important as asbestos removal and probably as important as fixing leaky roofs.

Shawn Harmon

Annapolis

The writer and his wife, Anne, are organizers of the Be Cool In School Campaign, a parent organization dedicated to getting air conditioning for all the county schoolchildren.

Abandon prejudices about mobile homes

Residents who live in the Annapolis/Broadneck take the privilege of their residency for granted. There's a standard of living here that is second to none, a caliber of public schools you won't find in other counties and a plethora of resources and history that have helped to define our State.

Last night I attended a zoning hearing and addressed the council in an effort to create awareness about the future dislocation of the residents of Colonial Manor Estates Mobile Home Park. The park has been sold and is to be redeveloped into socially acceptable "McMansions." Park residents have been kept in the dark about the in-progress-since-1998 plans, the "public" meetings, their future.

There is a prejudiced presumption that people who occupy mobile homes are poor and uneducated. We aren't poor, uneducated, indigent, amoral, destitute or deviant. The only help we have been offered is names and phone numbers, at our request, of other parks. That'd be just great if there were spaces available elsewhere. Some homes are too old to be moved and will have to be abandoned.

I challenge all parties involved to do the right thing.

Sherri Kashuba

Annapolis

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