Give teaching the respect it deserves The Sun's article...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 02, 2002

Give teaching the respect it deserves

The Sun's article "Privatizing schools calls for diplomacy" (April 21) alluded to the untapped resource of knowledgeable but "uncertified" teachers in the population.

I may be guilty of arguing from the particular to the general, but I have seen some of this untapped talent in action in the public schools.

I have seen accountants hired as math teachers, even ones who have student teaching experience, throw their hands up in the air and quit their first year. I have also observed scientists with Ph.D.s in science leaving after one year of trying to educate reluctant learners.

Unfortunately, being knowledgeable in a subject is but one aspect of being a good teacher, just as being a good orator is but one aspect of being a good lawyer. Placing a knowledgeable, educated person who has no experience teaching into a classroom of children and expecting good results does a disservice to the children and the teacher.

In my opinion, classroom management and the ability to deliver knowledge are skills No. 1 and No. 2 of the many needed to be a good teacher. These particular skills should be observed and monitored by experts from within the teaching profession - hence the practice of student teaching.

So let's toss out this criticism of requiring teaching certification classes and student teaching experience and treat the teaching profession with the respect that it deserves.

Gary Schisler

Pylesville

The writer has taught in the Baltimore County public schools for 20 years.

The `WellPoint Way' carries high costs

After reading The Sun's account of the "WellPoint Way" of success, it is apparent that it is achieved primarily by limiting services and increasing premiums ("Insurer's success evolves from `WellPoint Way,'" April 21). How else could the company achieve its stated objective of a 15 percent return to its stockholders?

As a long time Blue Cross customer who prefers to remain one, I cannot afford to become one of WellPoint's paving stones to success.

Robert N. Krimmel

Baltimore

Few careers require advanced math

The Sun has taken issue with the Abell Foundation's suggestion that math standards for community college students be relaxed ("Does math count?" editorial, April 23). Instead, the editorial asks, "Why not require more than algebra and geometry for Maryland high school students?"

But very few careers require such math knowledge. So the real question becomes: "Why is this math taught in the first place, other than to artificially separate budding rocket scientists from the rest of us?"

Community colleges have a mission to provide real-world knowledge to help move students into appropriate careers.

It is certainly true that having a solid math foundation under one's belt is an important and necessary advantage. But in the real world, advanced math is a complicated, unnecessary luxury that few master and even fewer need.

Dennis Kaplan

Baltimore

Consult TU faculty about new president

Former Towson University President James Fisher's advice to the regents on appointing a permanent replacement for the school's interim president is welcome evidence of his renewed concern for the university ("Don't let Towson sit idle," Opinion

Commentary, April 24).

I would caution, however, that his recommendation that a replacement be in office by September does not seem to be shared by the faculty. Whatever Mark Perkins' gifts or liabilities were, the campus was surprised, and some of us were angry, that we were excluded from the process when the search committee forwarded his name, and those of other finalists, to the board without allowing on-campus interviews.

I believe there is a strong consensus among the Towson faculty that any president appointed without campus consultation would not enjoy the faculty's confidence.

Michael T. O'Pecko

Baltimore

The writer is a professor of German at Towson University.

Criticism overlooks PETA's mission

Dan Rodricks' unfair criticism of PETA for not speaking out about Baltimore's homicide rate is like criticizing the American Cancer Society for not speaking out against cockfighting ("Bum steer from PETA," April 26).

The name of the organization is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and its mission is to end animal suffering.

All of us who care about our fellow beings, human and non-human, should be grateful to PETA and every other organization that speaks up for those who cannot.

Jacqueline M. West

Baltimore

A refreshing choice for Balto. Co. voters

Andrew Green's article suggesting it is boring to have a Baltimore County executive race between two well-qualified candidates who think discussing issues of importance to county citizens is the way to campaign for elective office was ironic ("Smith (yawn) vs. (snore) Riley," April 21).

In fact, it is refreshing to have two candidates who seek to understand issues and articulate well-thought-out positions rather than sling mud at one another or grandstanding to seek attention.

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