Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

January 26, 2003

4-period school day can't make the grade

It's another educational blight. Thirty years ago, Ed Anderson imposed the open-space classroom on Anne Arundel. Now Eric Smith despite massive opposition from parents, teachers, and students, has imposed the four-period day. He has also muzzled the teachers.

The four-period day means many more middle school teachers being forced to teach out of field. It means art, tech ed, and family/consumer science will no longer be required.

It means middle school teachers of electives will often see their students one day in a week - and only for a semester. But these teachers will manage 270 students a marking period.

It means six rather than five classes for high school teachers, a 20 percent increase; and 192, rather than 140, students, a 37 percent increase. Anne Arundel will become an academic sweatshop.

It means class sizes into the 40s. The overcrowded science labs will be unsafe.

It means 22 percent less class time per subject and AP/IB students 22 percent less exam-competitive.

It means adopting a new schedule because it is different and cheap rather than because it has proved better. It means more teachers will leave Anne Arundel or just quit. Right now, 40 percent of the county's teachers can retire. It alienates prospective teachers and student teachers.

It means high-technology firms not liking Anne Arundel. They will smell the four-period day as a regressive move. It's too bad - the kids of high-tech employees tend to raise school standards.

The remedy for this blight is a seven-period day where the less skilled take tutorials while the more skilled take electives. And let's listen to the teachers. In December's hearing they testified 42 to 1 against the four-period day. Silencing them is bush-league tyranny.

J.A. Hoage

Severna Park

Don't let hospital close psychiatric unit

I had to do a double-take when I read in The Sun that North Arundel Hospital, one of only two general hospitals in a major county, wants to close its psychiatric unit. As everyone knows, a general hospital exists to provide essential medical care to the community it serves. In this day and age, a psychiatry unit is every bit as vital to a modern general hospital as is the emergency room.

It is outrageous enough that Anne Arundel Medical Center (which is also supposed to be a general hospital) has manipulated the accreditation process these past ten years by deferring county residents with mental illness to - ironically - North Arundel Hospital. If the powers that be at North Arundel have their way, Anne Arundel County residents - your relatives, your friends - who suffer any kind of mental problems will be shipped to Baltimore, Washington, or even further away for treatment.

Make no mistake about it, North Arundel's planned scheme is unethical and immoral. Shutting down a vital service such as this is as sinful as shutting down the emergency room. As North Arundel's board celebrates its new (read "lucrative") cancer center, it will work tirelessly to cut financial corners, the community be damned. If we citizens do not stop this problem in its tracks, we can expect other greedy medical officials to take away even more essential services.

Carl A. Feely Jr.


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