Letters To The Editor

December 09, 2005

City dumbs down reading curriculum

The Sun's article "Schools rush into change" (Dec. 4) should outrage every taxpayer, teacher, administrator and politician. What The Sun's reporter has exposed is yet another example of education policy run amok.

s County public schools.

Low expectations sell city kids short

All you have to do is ask yourself: Would any rich white school district or private school adopt the Studio Course curriculum ("Schools rush into change," Dec. 4)?

Try to imagine a Howard County middle school curriculum that dropped standard grammar and literature texts in favor of teen magazines written on below-grade levels.

Consider one of the area's private schools deciding that it cared more about making students believe that they have something to say in writing than in giving students the academic tools to learn what they can say and write.

So much is flawed in the Studio Course curriculum that I, as a former public high school teacher and a current writing instructor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, cannot begin to address all the problems.

I can say, however, that Studio Course, as outlined, is racist in its assumptions that poor, inner-city children cannot learn academic work.

Further, this curriculum will in no way prepare students for a college or university education.

Barbara M. Simon

Baltimore

To improve test scores by city school students, someone actually suggested reading topics such as "Flirt Better!" and "Five Hot New Kisses"? And someone funded this idea?

How sad that our expectations for our city's children have sunk so low.

While the entrance exams and expectations for matriculation into our institutions of higher learning continue to rise, our public education professionals continue to lower the standards and insult the intelligence of parents.

Although I don't often agree with President Bush, I think I am beginning to understand what he means when he speaks of "the soft bigotry of low expectations" related to public education.

Kevin A. Slayton Sr.

Baltimore

The writer is a former chairman of the parent advisory board of Baltimore's public schools.

Rice dances around secret prisons issue

I am horrified at some of the comments made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in her effort to defend against or deny the accusations that the United States is using secret prisons to hide terrorist suspects in Eastern Europe and elsewhere ("Rice defends tactics against terrorism," Dec. 6).

I can hardly believe we are discussing this issue in this time and this place. And Ms. Rice danced around and evaded questions that she certainly knew were coming.

If my children had used such acrobatic language when they got in trouble, they would have been grounded for months.

This administration would do well to remember the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Carole Fisher

Ellicott City

Focus on security right here at home

It only gets worse in the wealthiest, most powerful democracy on Earth. Just when we thought there was some progress being made to safeguard the citizens, the 9/11 commission issues a failing report card on our government's implementation of the lifesaving recommendations in the commission's well-crafted report ("Poor grades from ex-9/11 panel," Dec. 6).

There are, I'm sure, many people like me who are scratching their heads and saying, "What is going on here?"

Four short years after the horrific attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, there is a tremendous lack of focus and action by those in a position to take responsibility for legislating and implementing positive changes in our nation's security.

It is time to put aside special interests and focus on where the risks are - right here at home.

The groundwork has been well-researched and the action plan well-outlined. Do we have to wait for another attack, perhaps a more significant one, to act on the commission's recommendations?

And now we need to finish two very difficult end games at the same time: First, we must figure out how to get out of Iraq without compromising our national security and the security of Iraq; and second, we must put into effect, without pork-barrel politics and partisan bickering getting in the way, the appropriate and realistic recommendations of the 9/11 commission.

Ours is a government for the people, by the people.

We the people must speak up to our government representatives and demand nothing less than full attention to our homeland security.

Jeffrey G. Katz

Severna Park

Killer's last minutes inspire no sympathy

Reporter Jennifer Mc- Menamin's article "Witness describes final moments of Baker's life" (Dec. 7) was an insult to the family of Jane Tyson.

Remember Mrs. Tyson? She was the victim of this gruesome murder.

When a reporter captures the final moments of the victim's life as she lay dying in front of her grandchildren, only then can The Sun write an article about the murderer's final moment. Until that occurs, I'm not interested in the murderer's final moments.

R. E. Derencz

Fallston

Sinister secrecy shrouds executions

After reading the exhaustive and exhausting coverage of the Wesley Eugene Baker's execution, I am struck with questions: Why all the secrecy regarding the day and time of the event?

And if the execution is really the will of "the people," what is the state afraid of? "The people" showing up and expressing their opinions on executions?

The secrecy about the time and date of an execution is just one more sinister detail of an entirely sinister practice.

Stephan Fogleman

Baltimore

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