Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 31, 2005

Teachers are held to tough standards

Ari Kaufman's column "The world that teachers inhabit is far removed from the real one" (Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 26) contains two fundamental fallacies.

First, Mr. Kaufman, who taught for less than three years, suggests that teachers bide their time in faculty rooms, complaining about their salaries and the awful way that society treats them.

In the 12 years I have been teaching in private and public schools, the teachers I have met have spent their time laughing, bonding and sometimes crying after a rough day. Most times, we don't have time to chat at all; the only time we have is 10 minutes to scarf down lunch before moving on to the next class period.

The second major flaw is his belief that teachers lack accountability, that they sit in their rooms, grading papers until administrators observe them and wake them up. This is false, especially in Baltimore County.

New state tests and national tests such as the Advanced Placement exams and the SAT force teachers to get students to perform.

The second layer of accountability is the parents, who do not tolerate poor performance.

The third layer is the administration, which at Pikesville High School and other schools enforces high standards of excellence.

The final layer is among ourselves. We push each other to succeed.

Mr. Kaufman's arguments are false, and it is no surprise he left the profession, since he clearly had no understanding of it in the first place.

Greg Hill

Pikesville

The writer is chairman of the English department at Pikesville High School.

Working diligently to serve students

Perhaps Ari Kaufman should spend a few days in Baltimore's classrooms ("The world that teachers inhabit is far removed from the real one," Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 26). Having been involved in the Baltimore County schools for more than 18 years, both as a volunteer and substitute teacher, I have found nothing but dedicated, energetic teachers, staff and administrators.

The time and effort they give to their students daily is quite remarkable and deserving of praise and appreciation by the community they serve.

Their day does not end at dismissal; countless hours are spent in lesson planning and grading papers.

Teachers are not autonomous; they are accountable to the children and families whose lives they positively influence 180 days a year.

Patty Gavrilis

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Parent-Teacher-Student Association at Pine Grove Middle School.

Cut pork projects to aid those in need

I am astonished that Republican leaders in Congress would have the gall to try to cut funds for health care, welfare, housing and heating assistance to the most underserved citizens of this nation to pay for tax cuts targeted to the very wealthy.

I agree with The Sun's editorial "Self-interest rules" (Oct. 24) that the frivolous billions to be spent on lawmakers' pet projects should instead be used to fund the necessary rebuilding of New Orleans.

Let's kill the $223 million for Alaska's "bridge to nowhere," and if Sen. Ted Stevens wants to resign, I will be happy to send him a personal retirement card.

Sidney S. Lewis

Fallston

Mortified by mind of our president

Thank you for publishing Gordon Livingston's column on President Bush and our culture ("The limits of Bush's mind," Opinion

Commentary, Oct. 25).

The statistics he presented on the beliefs of our population helped clarify how Mr. Bush was re-elected. And I was mortified to realize the entire world could have witnessed that embarrassing rehearsal of the president's recent meeting with 11 soldiers.

That we have a leader who denies the lethal effects of global warming as well as the needs of the world population for birth control, stem-cell research, etc., is unbelievable.

But the problem is not only with our leaders but also with ourselves.

Claire Hershfield

Glen Arm

Foolish shortcut to a diagnosis

According to Gordon Livingston, if one of his patients doesn't have the same political ideology that he has, that patient is either stupid or crazy (showing an "inability to reason or learn from experience" ("The limits of Bush's mind," Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 25).

Why didn't I think of that method of diagnosing while I was in practice?

It would have saved me so much time - I wouldn't have had to use my medical knowledge and clinical experience to make a diagnosis of psychiatric problems.

Dr. Morton J. Ellin

Baltimore

A Ken that serves adult fantasies?

The Sun's article on ideas from various specialists on making over Ken left a bad taste in my mouth ("Ken: Barbie needs a man with an edge," Oct. 26).

I was under the impression that Mattel created Barbie and Ken for fantasy play by young children, particularly girls, who have not the vaguest idea of what the real world is like.

Instead, it would seem that Mattel wants to create a Ken that would fit the wildest dreams of some twentysomething females for their ideal bed partner.

Is Mattel trying to accelerate the education of young children into the wiles of the real world?

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