Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

January 05, 2003

Lighting for sports is not a priority

Priorities, priorities, priorities.

If I had a nickel for every time Lowell E. Sunderland has whined about the lack of lights in Howard County high school stadia, I could have personally financed a portable classroom to help relieve the overcrowded conditions at one of those places of learning ("Shedding light on why fields go unlighted," Dec. 2).

Since the school system can't seem to relieve overcrowding fast enough, I suggest that they take any money earmarked (or even considered) for future lights and buy portable classrooms, expand overcrowded libraries, cafeterias and gyms, add more lockers, or help fund all-day kindergarten, and focus on what's important.

If sports boosters decide to raise their own money for lights, I encourage them to rethink their priorities and consider purchasing a portable classroom, books, software, or computers instead.

J.T. Merryman

Ellicott City

Let us agree on what makes an outparcel

In answer to Laura Cadiz's article Dec. 22 about Columbia outparcels ("Living almost in Columbia,) I apologize to Ms. Cadiz. The apology is for thinking the information I supplied before our interview clarified what outparcels in the 1960s to 1970s meant to Rouse people and Howard County. Ms. Cadiz missed my point and that is my fault.

Mr. Tennenbaum's book Creating a New City (page 31) describes outparcels as "basically eliminating the voids within the boundary of the proposed city." This would cover the article by Ms. Cadiz on the five properties on Donleigh Drive that were purchased by Rouse and called outparcels by Rouse.

All of the locations referred to in the article such as Allview, Arrowhead, and Donleigh were not outparcels.

With the second generation of Rouse people now in control with new thinking and ideas, anything can change. However, from a grammatical definition point, the Oxford English Dictionary offers the following: "Parcel" is "a part, portion, or division of anything" etc. "Out part" is "an outer, outlying or exterior part. The parts of a town lying outside its walls or municipal bounds."

Clearly the above indicates ownership or possession of property not within the bounds of the main property.

With both Tennenbaum and the dictionary offering ownership as a need to be an outparcel, I can only conclude that Allview, Arrowhead, and Donleigh are not outparcels. I would hope if the Rouse people are misusing the term, they adjust their effort and correct accordingly.

Wilbur F. Coyle


Support our teachers helping our children

I applaud Tricia Bishop for her recent article "Ambitious plan leaves teachers with little time," (Dec. 22) which effectively conveyed the message that teachers need sound and sensible support to assist them in helping their students reach their greatest potential.

Thank you Ms. Bishop for doing your part to support the students of Howard County by furthering their teachers' message. Howard County teachers must often feel frustrated and saddened that their pleas are so regularly discounted. It seems it is convenient to forget that they are speaking for those who have no voice -- their students, our children.

I only hope someone is listening, for it is my deepest conviction that there is nothing more important that the well-being of our children, which depends to a large extent on how well their teachers are supported in providing them a high-quality, educational experience.

Colleen Morris


Report on phonics neglects research

The Sun's enthusiastic report on Saxon phonics ("Phonics system is catching on among schools," Dec. 26) neglects the scientific research. In a recent book and in several journal papers, California State University Professor Elaine Garan concluded that systematic, intensive phonics instruction has a clear effect on reading only when tests consist of regularly spelled words in isolation. Intensive phonics has very little impact on tests of reading comprehension given after grade 1.

Some knowledge of phonics can help children get meaning from texts, but true reading competence comes from only one source: reading itself.

Stephen Krashen, Ph.D.

(The writer is professor emeritus of education at the University of Southern California.)

Phonics is best tool for word recognition

As a longtime reading instruction specialist, I find deplorable the resistance among some teachers to direct, intensive, systematic, early, and comprehensive (DISEC) instruction of a prearranged hierarchy of phonics skills ("Phonics system is catching on among schools," Dec. 26). Teacher Ann Mintz was quoted in this regard as complaining that "reading is about making meaning," and not children's ability to recognize written words quickly and accurately, i.e., automatically.

It is irrational ideological beliefs about reading teaching such as this one that largely account for children being denied full opportunity to learn to read. Relevant scientific evidence consistently makes clear that nothing relates more closely to children's reading comprehension than does automatic word recognition. And, beginning readers' ability to apply phonics rules is found to be the most time-effective means for them to attain the latter skill.

Patrick Groff

(The writer is professor emeritus of education at San Diego State University.)

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