Letters To The Editor


January 23, 2003

Testing is tool for building better schools

An important component of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) - one that ties accountability into students' actual learning - is the annual testing of all children in grades 3 through 8 in reading and math. This gives both teachers and parents the information they need to determine whether children are learning what they have been taught.

And when a chief state school officer boldly claims, as Nebraska education commissioner Doug Christensen does in "Bush education policy gets states' rights jolt" (Dec. 30), that he has no plans to stand by the NCLB provision that says states must let parents and other taxpayers compare one school with another across the state, he is denying parents the information they need to participate effectively in their children's education.

Such an approach breeds low expectations. And parents have a right to know how their children compare with the highest- and lowest-performing students across the state.

All chief state school officers must keep in mind that assessment and accountability are tools, not sanctions, to be used as we improve teaching and learning for all students.

Christopher T. Cross

Danville, Calif.

The writer is a senior fellow at the Center on Education Policy and a former president of the Maryland State Board of Education.

State has no right to scorn city schools

My stomach turned as I read the article "State officials slam schools over finances" (Jan. 10). The city schools are not "a bottomless pit," as state Sen. George W. Della Jr. was quoted as saying. The education of our young people is an investment in the future of our city, our state and our world.

And Del. Howard P. Rawlings has a lot of gall to call the school system's budget deficit "disgraceful and inexcusable," when the city schools' projected deficit is a tiny fraction of the size of Maryland's projected 2004 budget deficit.

And it is extremely hypocritical for Mr. Rawlings to state that "it doesn't take a rocket scientist" to balance a budget, when the state has done such a lousy job of balancing its own budget.

Thomas V. Quayle


Support for slots seems hypocritical

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has pushed for slots and said his election was a referendum on gambling, but he's trying to block slots in Timonium, where he has lived. Meanwhile, the Senate Republican leader from the Eastern Shore says he'll fight to the death to prevent slots on the Eastern Shore ("Racing industry leaders propose 18,000 slot machines at 5 tracks," Jan. 11).

Yet these leaders seem happy to have slots in Baltimore and Prince George's County, communities that didn't vote for Mr. Ehrlich. This is terribly hypocritical and unjust.

The gangsters who built Las Vegas knew casinos belong in the middle of the desert.

Since Maryland doesn't have any deserts, let's say no to slots and casinos and try to attract good jobs instead.

Jeremy Barron


Slots enrich wealthy as they hurt poor

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s solution to Maryland's budget problem is a slots scheme that would make some fabulously wealthy people fabulously richer and but would impoverish thousands ("Racing industry leaders propose 18,000 slot machines at 5 tracks," Jan. 11) .

It all sounds very Republican. But why would anyone else go for it?

Richard Wilschke


Giving Poindexter too much power

Dennis Bernstein's column "Justice twisted in terror fight" (Opinion*Commentary, Jan. 10) was a real gem. Who could believe that retired Adm. John Poindexter, one of the infamous figures in the Iran-contra deal, has resurfaced to head the Pentagon Information Awareness Office?

This appointment gives a man with multiple felony convictions, including on charges of lying to Congress (later overturned on a technicality), power to track anyone he decides is a terrorist threat.

This seems to be another questionable appointment by the Bush administration.

Velva Grebe


Exempt earnings on savings, too

Has anyone told President Bush that many people do not invest in stocks and bonds ("Bush offers bold tax cuts," Jan. 8)?

If he wants us to feel better about his effort to help the wealthy, he should consider removing the income tax on interest from savings accounts and certificates of deposit.

Beverly Hagy


Tax cut will ruin nation's economy

President Bush's latest tax cut for the rich will ruin the U.S. economy for years ("Bush offers bold tax cuts," Jan. 8).

Two-thirds of the benefits from this budget-busting $674 billion plan will go to the richest 5 percent of Americans. And once again Mr. Bush and his Republican congressional allies are crassly ignoring the real needs of the majority of Americans while rewarding the privileged class with excessive tax breaks that will do little to stimulate the economy.

Meanwhile, the buildup for war in Iraq goes on despite a complete lack of evidence Iraq had anything to do with the terrorists who attacked our country on Sept. 11.

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