Editor: The conditions that led to the deaths at the North
Carolina chicken factory probably could not have been prevented even if the state had a hundred inspectors, assuming not all would be completely honest and arrive without warning. The factory managers could just have relocked and blocked the exit doors after they left. The managers and owners should be criminally charged.
Editor: The editorial appearing in The Sun on Aug. 31 concerning SAT scores made a number of valid points, but did not go far enough in some areas. It is true that "more of the same" is certainly not the answer to the low levels of both verbal and math scores. As with most complex problems in life, there are a number of places where improvements are vital.
As you state, the course content itself must be critically examined, both because of our changing world and due to the fact that many students see no relationship between what they study and the "real world."
Inter-disciplinary teaching and the teaching of realistic application problems are a must. High school juniors, for example, should see the overlaps among their American literature, American history and chemistry classes. This cooperation among teachers will bring about many benefits for students, not the least of which is an appreciation of the historical development of knowledge.
As was evident in the sample questions you published on Aug. 27, the SAT tests, in addition to raw knowledge, the ability to analyze and think critically. It has been stated many times recently that the problems of the 21st century may not even be able to be visualized at this time. It is therefore crucial that all citizens be able to think clearly and are able to evaluate options, both personally and in the social arena, with logic and creative skills.
There are many other forces which factor into low SAT scores, and chief among these is society's current worshiping of money and material things. In summary, the problem of declining SAT scores is a societal problem and will be solved only when all of the factors responsible are brought into focus and are addressed.
Louis J. Maresca.
The writer teaches chemistry and calculus at Mount Carmel High School.
Editor: I laud you on your recent story about local soup kitchens. More ubiquitous than AIDS, drug abuse or homelessness, the hunger crisis does not receive enough media exposure. However noble an effort, soup kitchens are only a Band-aid solution to deeper problems, though.
About 5.5 million children are hungry in the United States and 11.5 million more are at risk, according to a recent survey published by the Food Research and Action Center. This is about 40 percent of American children. Among other things, hungry children are three times as likely to suffer from the inability to concentrate. Without proper nourishment, how can we educate and train our leaders and caretakers of the future?
These numbers exist in spite of federal programs. I beg you to urge your readers to write to their legislatures in support of the pending Childhood Hunger Relief Act.
High housing costs may force families to choose between food and heat. This act would allow low-income families to deduct high shelter costs similar to other disadvantaged households.
cap of $186 is ridiculous, especially in urban areas.
Perhaps some of your readers might consider a practice similar to what we use in our family. To honor family holidays, we send a check, in lieu of exchanging gifts, to the Maryland Food Committee or a similar organization.
Editor: You very properly condemned the House Public Works Committee transportation bill because it contains too many pork barrel projects. Traditionally, federal transportation legislation establishes standards and funding levels but allows the states and localities to select particular projects.
This is the way projects should again be selected. If a project has merit it will be selected by the states and cities; if it has no merit, it should not receive federal support.
There are, however, other considerations.
The Moynihan bill that passed the Senate by an overwhelming margin has many good features including significant support for mass transit and high-speed rail. However, it leaves so much discretion to states as to federal funds that the result could well be a proliferation of some 50 plans and programs without any national focus or enhancement of a national transportation system.
Without a unified federal program and single national focus, why not eliminate the federal role in transportation and allow each state to raise its own taxes and spend the funds any way it wants? Clearly, this would not be in the national interest.
Apart from pork barrel, the House Public Works bill has many features that should be preserved. It requires a major part of funding to focus on enhancement and reconstruction of a national highway system interconnecting major cities and utilizing a consistent set of standards and policies.
Such an approach is very necessary in considering the deterioration of a large proportion of the nation's primary arterial highways and many of its bridges coupled with massive highway congestion in suburban areas. Additionally, the five-cent-per-gallon hike in the gas tax proposed in the House bill would provide a much needed $6 billion a year in additional transportation funding.
The U.S. Transportation Department's own report on the state of roads and bridges estimates an additional $12 billion a year is needed just to maintain 1989 conditions. The nickel additional gas tax would cost the average motorist only $25 per year. That's a small price for safer and more efficient roads and the generation of hundreds of thousands of new American jobs over the next five years.
Editor: John P. Bulger's criticism (letter, Aug. 17) of Harford County Executive Eileen Rehrmann's blue-bag recycling program misses the mark. He says Harford countians are prepared to recycle, but then insists they are either too lazy or uninformed to do so voluntarily.
He criticizes the blue bags because he believes too much material will be lost to contamination. Contamination is just as likely, if not more so, in recycling programs using rigid containers.
Mr. Bulger believes Harford County should start with the more expensive rigid container while giving a limited test to the blue bags. Starting with the less expensive blue bags and testing the rigid container in a pilot program would make more sense. He is right that Harford County is ready to recycle. Let's approve the blue-bag program and go for it. Every day of delay means hundreds of tons of lost recyclables.
Our Daily Bread
Editor: I occasionally volunteer to serve lunch at Our Daily Bread on Franklin Street. Whenever I do, I am left with a number of impressions. Above all, why it is necessary to have a soup kitchen that serves so many people and so many children?
Those are far-reaching economic and political questions. On my last visit, I identified some more immediate needs which I hope can be easily fulfilled.
On hot summer days, we all enjoy an ice-cold drink, but at Our Daily Bread, the ice machine is unable to keep up with the demand for ice cubes. About half-way through lunch, no more ice-cold water is available to be served to the guests, so the pitchers are filled with tap water.
It is difficult to see people facing such hardships without a basic comfort like cold water. I am hoping someone will be able to donate ice or money to purchase ice on a daily basis for the rest of the summer.
I also witnessed a toddler standing, crying, at her pregnant mother's side because there were not enough high chairs for her to sit down and eat. I am hoping that someone would be able to donate some children's seats.
Staff members at Our Daily Bread do a wonderful job under less than ideal circumstances. Their wish list contains many other items, including foodstuffs and beverages.
Their phone number is 539-2744.