System for classes boggles the mind I want to thank The...

LETTERS

March 10, 2002

System for classes boggles the mind

I want to thank The Sun for publishing a fitting tribute to the "Severna Park moms" ("Artist, author have impact on schools," Feb. 28) who have worked so hard to make sure their children weren't deprived of the art, music and cooking classes they so desperately need for a well-rounded education. The art accompanying the article was appropriate: a section of a twisted mass of snarled vines or roots. The observer is compelled to ask from whence they come and whither they go? Questions that obviously never bothered our moms, whose only concern was with a short section of a similarly snarled education system, and then only for one particular generation.

And what have they wrought instead? I recently sat (stood) through the result of their hard work at the Severna Park Middle School. What started a year ago as a simple extra reading period has mutated into something that Rube Goldberg himself could never have contrived. Learning how to trade currency derivatives would be easier than figuring out how to balance "A" days and "B" days with core classes and "encore" classes for half the year as opposed to the whole year. The timing of classroom changes alone is now being studied by NASCAR pit crews.

The only thing the Severna Park moms have accomplished is to throw yet another monkey wrench at the old public school boiler and managed to get it working again ... for them. How imaginative. They haven't really changed anything, just the number of monkey wrenches piled up around the boiler.

How little it takes to make the system sway to and fro; how little regard the system and our "leaders" have for the past and the future students.

Mike Netherland

Severna Park

Children's readiness is parents' responsibility

In the Anne Arundel section of the The Sun, Feb. 27, 2002, an article ("Md. children ill-prepared for entering kindergarten") by Stephen Kiehl concerned a state report showing only half of Maryland children are "fully ready" for entering kindergarten. Calls then came from state officials for more early-childhood education - that it demonstrates the need for full-day kindergarten and preschool programs "especially for poor and minority children."

Delegate Shriver from Montgomery County is sponsoring a bill requiring full-day kindergarten statewide, and the state board is calling for more money for teachers' salaries and construction of more classrooms. Shriver said, "The state's priority should be to help our youngest, or else they'll fall behind and we'll spend hundreds of millions of dollars in remediation."

The question I have is: When will politicians (yes, including the State Board of Education) acknowledge the real reason for insufficient education of children - parents. What responsibility are the parents of these children taking? Why aren't the parents spending time, sweat and tears to teach their children prior to even kindergarten? This responsibility is shirked by conveniently putting the onus on teachers and "construction of more classrooms."

This willingness to put the onus on teachers and to seek expansion of classrooms demonstrates the sheepishness of Del. Shriver and the State Board to pinpoint this absolute responsibility of the parents.

Larry R. Strong

Millersville

Playing with the BSO a delight for students

The Sun's article "A chance to show and tell with pros" (March 2), about the BSO Side-by-Side concert, tells only part of a great story.

First, the support and preparation provided by Anne Arundel County Schools was exemplary. The entire county music program shined through this effort.

Then, there was Lara Weber. What a wonderful conductor. She approached the students with the expectation that they would be professionals, and they responded. Her leadership instilled both discipline and inspiration. Bravo Lara! What's even better than playing with the pros? Being treated like one. The BSO players and administrative staff treated the students with respect throughout the series. They are a class act.

And while The Sun's story highlighted a few individuals, let's recognize all of the students for their excellent work: Chris Anderson, Chantal Berez, Lauren Bowers, Dorothy Couper, Kathryn Crane, Nicholas Drumm, Tanya Dunsey, Alice Elkin, Jamie Famula, Rachel Gawell, Kathryn Goldsmith, Lindsey Hanson, Aimee Hoad, Matthew Howse, Brittany Jordan, Sarah Jorgensen, Sean Marlow, Louis McLane, Kathryn Middel, Matthew Misiewicz, Joe Muhlada, Anita Owens, Stephen Pastelak, Bronwen Price, Elise Schauer, Keith Thomas, Brian Walker and Lauren Wineholt.

Karl and Martha Gawell

Arnold

Tobacco-Free Kids an important step

I would like to applaud the Anne Arundel County Health Department's efforts to organize Tobacco-Free Kids Week, March 18 through 24. With stricter smoking laws, tobacco companies are scrambling to attract a new generation of smokers. Children and teens today are under enormous pressure to try smoking, and early intervention is the best way to defeat this. Parents, listen up! Tobacco is a gateway drug! Research has told us people who start smoking early in life are much more prone to try other dangerous substances. We don't want our kids to start smoking, and we certainly don't want to see them hooked on drugs.

In the future, I hope to see a lot more efforts like Anne Arundel County's in other parts of Maryland. This is our opportunity to be pro-active and to ensure the health and safety of our little ones. Be a role model in your community. Get your children involved in anti-tobacco efforts, and most importantly, educate them about the dangers of smoking!

D. Trevino

Baltimore

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