The city schools should reassess reading series Whether...


August 26, 2002

The city schools should reassess reading series

Whether or not direct, systematic phonics instruction benefits young readers (and there is strong evidence that it does not), Baltimoreans should be rejoicing at the news that the Open Court textbook series may be on its way out.

The reasons for rejoicing may not be clear from Mike Bowler's alarmist article on the subject ("Phonics-based curriculum could be in trouble in city," Aug. 17), however, because Mr. Bowler has neglected the first principle of investigative reporting: Follow the money.

In the article, Open Court is credited with vastly improving Baltimore students' scores on the TerraNova standardized test. Nowhere, however, does Mr. Bowler note that the Open Court series and the TerraNova test are both published by subsidiaries of textbook giant McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc.

I do not mean to imply that this apparent conflict of interest represents intentional wrongdoing by McGraw-Hill, but I do think it pollutes the issue enough to render impossible any real estimation of Open Court's effects on Baltimore City schools.

Would McGraw-Hill sell a test that proved its textbooks weren't effective?

Sutton Royal Stokes


The writer teaches third grade in the Baltimore public schools.

Abandoning phonics would be big mistake

As a reading teacher who retired from Baltimore with 30 years of experience, I hope Baltimore is not abolishing the phonics-based curriculum and reverting to a whole-language approach ("Phonics-based curriculum could be in trouble in city," Aug. 17).

The test scores have proven that the city is off to a good start in reading with the Open Court series. It seems like a waste of money to keep changing publishers. Regardless of what publisher is used, the sounds of vowels and consonants remain the same.

The city should save money and stick with Open Court.

If the city schools continue to keep classes small and present a strong program of phonics instruction, extra funding from the state and dedication to the job will keep them on the right track.

Lola J. Massey

Owings Mills

Criticism of sheriff is not convincing

After reading yet another article about Baltimore County Sheriff Anne Strasdauskas, I must ask myself why? So many words and so little said ("Sheriff faces criticism amid investigation," Aug. 11). It reminds me of the supermarket tabloids that feature scandalous headlines to sell papers.

For years, The Sun applauded Ms. Strasdauskas' work in our community as she established new programs such as the Child Identification Program and one providing cell phones to seniors.

And now what is wrong with asking deputies to help with Special Olympics events or hand out Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets to seniors?

The Sun has questioned and criticized Ms. Strasdauskas' public appearances in uniform, taking aim at her appearance on the Rosie O'Donnell Show. She presented Ms. O'Donnell with a plaque thanking her for her work with children. Why is that a problem?

Reporter Joe Nawrozki has done his best to weave a story of scandal and corruption. He has failed.

Darlene Rendek


Olesker's column reveals his bias

Michael Olesker's column "Finally, Townsend starting to respond to Ehrlich's jabs" (Aug. 11) provides insight into the author's obvious political biases and penchant for the candidacy of Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

While Mr. Olesker declares that, "Like it or not, her legacy is the liberal Democrat legacy of wanting equal rights for minorities, wanting economic benefits for working-class people, wanting government intervention," he fails to mention that the Maryland political landscape has been dominated by liberal Democrats for more than 30 years.

And, sadly, Ms. Townsend and her allies have squandered innumerable opportunities to bring improvements to the lives of citizens.

Terry M. Klima

Perry Hall

Slurring Mubarak in tabloid style

As much as we were shocked by the malicious assertions and hearsay in G. Jefferson Price III's article "Hosni: This is about more than sausages" (Aug. 18), we were more appalled that The Sun would allow the publication of such an article.

While Mr. Price's amateurish allegations and insults do not dignify a response, we must express our disappointment that The Sun, a stronghold of objectivity and journalistic professionalism, has allowed the antics of yellow journalism to disgrace its pages.

Such slanderous statements should be left to the tabloids.

Dr. Hesham el Nakib


The writer is press counselor for the Embassy of Egypt.

Al-Qaida video overly graphic

I couldn't finish The Sun's graphic, grisly description of the al-Qaida video that showed a dog being killed by poison gas ("Video cache shows al-Qaida chemical experiments," Aug. 19).

Later, I had to turn off the TV news when the tape was played. I consider my pets to be part of my family, and it was as if a child was being murdered.

The media was downright sadistic in its depiction of this horrific act.

Esther Margolius


Trauma victims' tales are fascinating

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