Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 22, 2006

Schools need help to meet mandates

Increasing the supply of potential teachers is one long-term strategy to meet the No Child Left Behind law's mandate requiring 100 percent of teachers in core subjects to be "highly qualified" ("Teacher shortfall," editorial, May 17). But how do you keep well-qualified candidates in a job whose pressures have intensified as a result of this federal law's inflexible demands?

States are scurrying to meet the law's deadline for all teachers to be "highly qualified" by June 30, and thousands of teachers are confused about whether they have earned "highly qualified" status.

Now that the Department of Education has concluded that no state will meet the 100 percent requirement, all states will have to submit new plans and some states will be subject to sanctions.

Maryland may be one of the states that wins an extension on that deadline, but achieving 100 percent compliance with this law will take more than big-hearted gestures.

It will require extending the deadline by one year for all states without imposing new bureaucratic hurdles; resolving ongoing compliance disputes; providing states with assistance to meet the requirements; clearly defining for all parties what is necessary to meet this teacher quality mandate; and providing sufficient aid to teachers who need help.

Reg Weaver

Washington

The writer is president of the National Education Association.

Unfair requirements imperil our schools

The inability of any state to meet the requirement of the No Child Left Behind law to have a highly qualified teacher in every core subject class by the end of the current school year is cause for pause ("Teacher shortfall," editorial, May 17). And it serves as damning evidence of the bankruptcy of this nation's thinking about the teaching profession.

Despite the wide variation that exists by subject area and by geographic region, no field reported a "considerable" surplus of teachers, according to data released by the American Association for Employment in Education in its annual study of supply and demand.

The report said that the mandates of NCLB have exacerbated the gap between the supply and the demand for teachers. These disheartening findings will only intensify in the next few years, as the punitive effects of NCLB begin to kick in.

Rather than supporting the instructional efforts by teachers, the law's provisions act as a cudgel to demoralize teachers.

The result is a perfect storm that threatens the very existence of public schools in this country.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles

The writer is a former teacher and lecturer at the UCLA Graduate School of Education.

Airport escorts are waste of resources

It was extremely disconcerting to read that the Maryland Transportation Authority Police have been providing escort services for those travelers who deem themselves to be "celebrities" ("Celebrities using BWI get armed police escort," May 17).

The use of any law enforcement personnel for such a purpose is a waste of resources that needs to be stopped.

And if the police have the time to provide such services, the terrorist threat to our transportation facilities must not be as serious as we have been told it is.

Steve Shimko

Catonsville

Hamas hasn't ended its terrorist tactics

The Sun's report that Hamas has "abandoned its campaign of suicide bombings in Israel" ("Security move snubs Abbas," May 18) could be great news. Too bad it's not true.

Please identify the source for this major policy shift by these terrorists or print a retraction.

Additionally, The Sun might consider telling us all the facts about Hamas' so-called governance, including its refusal to recognize past agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel.

This is certainly not acceptable. Just imagine what this country would be like if each time we changed the party in power, all previous laws and treaties were subject to review.

Jerome Glazer

Lutherville

Police felt real need to use deadly force

It's easy to sympathize with the tragic loss of life in the shooting death of Justin James Fisher. However, it's apparent that the writer of the letter "A shameful waste of such a young life" (May 17) is unfamiliar with law enforcement protocols on the use of deadly force.

When a law enforcement officer shoots a weapon at someone, it is never done with the intent of wounding that person.

After a mere 35 minutes, the officers on the scene were probably nominally aware of Mr. Fisher's state of mind. But they surely were aware that he was unresponsive to their pleas that he surrender.

And while scissors are certainly not a gun, they are a weapon that can inflict bodily injury and even death.

Consequently, when Mr. Fisher lunged toward them, the police officers reacted in what they believed was an appropriate manner.

Lou Fritz

Baltimore

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