Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 19, 2006

Maryland's schools need Grasmick

I read with dismay Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley's statement that state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick should consider resigning because of a need for a "fresh start" ("No plans to leave, schools chief says," Nov. 14).

Ms. Grasmick was a role model and mentor to many educators as a leader in the Baltimore County public schools. As a classroom teacher and a principal, I witnessed her skill and positive impact on students and educators. Since then, she has facilitated impressive gains in the quality of crucial statewide services of the Maryland State Department of Education.

Does Mr. O'Malley understand the complexity and enormity of all that Ms. Grasmick directs? She has statewide responsibility for every aspect of programs from infants and toddlers to community colleges.

These programs don't need a fresh start. Ms. Grasmick skillfully manages all these areas, yet will never miss an opportunity to listen to a parent's worries, or to take the time to act on their behalf when necessary.

If Mr. O'Malley opts for change from an educator so universally recognized for her capability and contributions, will he accept responsibility if student scores fall? Ms. Grasmick has a record of improved student scores in all areas on all levels. Mayor O'Malley has not had such success in Baltimore.

Most important, Ms. Grasmick, who has served with several governors without bias, would never allow politics to interfere with her contributions to our children. One hopes that Mr. O'Malley will develop that same approach.

Ronald P. Boone

Timonium

The wrong lesson for Republicans

In his article "Have Republicans learned anything from their defeat?" (Opinion

Commentary, Nov. 16), Thomas Sowell writes, "On the left, it is considered OK to say things such as `open space' or `alternative fuels' without any thought of the cost." And he registers surprise that the same has become true on the right.

Up until a few weeks ago, we heard all about how the stupid, plodding Democrats couldn't stick together, while the Republicans held power by staying "on message." Perhaps that situation shifted 180 degrees when it became clear how odious the extreme conservative message has become in the eyes of a majority of Americans who, like me, aren't billionaires, who have relatives or friends in uniform, or who have grandchildren who will incur the debts of our generation, if our excesses continue unchecked.

Mr. Sowell asks if the Republicans have "learned anything from their defeat." If he speaks for the Republicans, then it's clear that they haven't.

Thad Paulhamus

Baltimore

Failing to report on stem cell success

Two British researchers, Nico Forraz and Colin McGuckin of Newcastle University, recently successfully grew mini-livers capable of being used to test new lifesaving drugs and possibly provide lifesaving treatment to patients in need of liver transplants.

The British discovery shows that research using non-embryonic stem cells is most promising.

If this new breakthrough had been accomplished with embryonic stem cells instead of umbilical cord blood cells, I bet the headlines would have been enormous.

Why don't we find this reported in the mainstream media? Could it be that there is a media bias against any successes resulting from non-embryonic stem cell research?

Benedict Frederick Jr.

Pasadena

Taneytown unfair to deaf citizens

So Taneytown's linguistic zealots have declared English the town's official language ("1 language, many questions," Nov. 15).

The native language of a substantial number of native-born Americans is American Sign Language, which is about as distant from English as Chinese is. Most of these deaf citizens are unable to use spoken English for obvious reasons, and it is unreasonable to demand that they do.

In effect, Taneytown's City Council has erected a billboard that says, "Deaf Keep Out!" That looks unconstitutional to me.

Donald N. Langenberg

Queenstown

The writer is a former chancellor of the University System of Maryland.

NCLB interrupts child's education

Thank you for the Opinion

Commentary article "The wrong yardstick for special-ed students" (Nov. 13).

I'm a parent to an 8-year-old boy who has severe developmental delays because of lissencephaly and a seizure disorder.

I, too, am exasperated and offended at the expectation of the reading, math and science goals he must "achieve" under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. I'm also not happy with all the time that his wonderful teacher must spend preparing and teaching to the yardstick the NCLB has set for him. He is on a 2-month-old developmental level; it's OK that they are not teaching him how to read in school.

The work they do with him, however, is not any less important than learning the principles of science or the fundamentals of math. He's made very good progress, even though none of it can be measured on the NCLB yardstick.

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