Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 09, 2006

Large classes make teaching very tough

I applaud the efforts of the students of the Baltimore Algebra Project to bring the attention of the public to the problem of large class sizes in Baltimore ("Laying out their demands," March 2).

Wayne Washington, a junior at Heritage High School, said he had 37 to 40 students in each of his classes and that learning anything in that environment is "real hard."

As a former teacher, I know what he is talking about. With classes of 37 to 40 students, everything is real hard - from classroom management and discipline to evaluation of students' work.

I remember what it was like trying to make myself heard above the classroom din or looking for a book for a new student while another student was asking for a pass to go to the bathroom and five others had their hands up because they didn't understand a project while two students were fooling around in the back of the classroom.

You have to solve five problems at one time and don't have time to solve any of them.

At the end of the day, you walk exhausted to your car carrying a stack of 150 papers of unfinished projects that you decided to collect to prove to the students that they would be held accountable for their work.

Large classes are detrimental to the learning environment in so many ways.

It is no wonder that so many students drop out and so many teachers burn out.

These students protesting on North Avenue have grasped a simple truth that seems to have escaped many in the offices of our boards of education: Reducing class sizes is the first and most crucial step toward building a sound education system.

James W. Apgar

Baltimore

Use the state surplus to help city schools

Let me get this straight. Although Maryland has a $1 billion budget surplus, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. steadfastly refuses to provide $200 million (per year) in back funding for Baltimore schools ("Laying out their demands," March 2).

And when Baltimore students protest decrepit facilities (lack of heat, water and toilet paper, and rat and roach infestations), overcrowded classrooms and lack of security, they are told by state officials that they need a better understanding of how city schools are funded and that school hours are not the right time to protest.

The response is appalling but, sadly, not surprising.

To tell the students they belong in school and not outside school headquarters is just an attempt to sweep the student uprising under the rug.

Real leaders would rise above the politics and use this entire state budget surplus to make significant headway in improving the city schools.

Jason Loviglio

Baltimore

Odd for Democrats to protest spending

Let me try to understand this: The Democrats in the Maryland legislature are now complaining about Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s spending on school construction, programs for the disabled and colleges and universities ("Ehrlich's free-spending budget," March 5)?

What will they complain about next?

Maybe that hundreds of millions of dollars are going to Delaware and West Virginia and, soon, to Pennsylvania in slots revenue?

Ray Merryman

Rosedale

Where's the outrage over abortion ban?

The recent passage of South Dakota's anti-abortion law, and the national Republican Party's failure to condemn it, shows how irresponsible and out of touch the GOP leadership has become ("S.D. anti-abortion law creates rifts," March 7).

Whether this law is intended as a test case or not, the idea that any state in the United States would require a woman to have her rapist's baby should shock even the most jaded among us.

We as a nation should find it abhorrent that the far right seems dead set on returning our nation to the times when women were not treated as people.

This has to stop.

Omar Siddique

Ellicott City

City is right to push for `housing first'

It would appear that Mayor Martin O'Malley and Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein have got it right in the development of the "housing first" program for people with psychiatric disabilities ("City may expand housing program," Feb. 27). This stands in sharp contrast to the Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration, which has maintained a moratorium on the development of affordable housing for people with psychiatric disabilities for the last five years.

The mayor understands that it is difficult for people with disabilities to focus on recovery - taking medication, advancing their education or getting jobs - if they have to worry about where to sleep at night or whether they will survive the elements.

The mayor understands that if the city invests in affordable housing for the target population, it will also save money in other ways - by reducing the use of public safety services and public health services such as emergency rooms.

But, most important, it is the right thing to do for the individuals in need of housing.

So kudos to the mayor and the city health commissioner for their initiative.

And when is the Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration going to get it right?

Scott Graham

Ellicott City

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