Good schools are needed for a bright future
As an economics student at UMBC, I am disturbed about the way our state views education.
Maryland does not support the "human capital" view of education, which sees education as an investment in individuals.
Instead, our state, like many others, regards our educational system as a means of identifying the abilities of different individuals. The school system is viewed as a "screening device" to separate the able from the less able.
Educators primarily concentrate on improving the skills, grades and test scores of the very top students while devoting "less than average" time to "less than average" students. By doing so, they are able to increase the overall school average -- but not the grades or scores of the less able students.
Education needs to be disbursed to all students equally, regardless of the individual's level of ability. If any inequality must exist, let it be that the less able receive a greater portion of the educational efforts.
Recently, a most exciting work session was held at Randallstown Senior High School. The title of the event was "Student Behaviors That Lead to School Success." The keynote speaker, Dr. Bette McLeod, was delightful, the food was delicious and politicians, district school administrators and teachers were present in droves.
As a somewhat hesitant participant, I proposed the occasion include a focus on the Baltimore County School Minority Student and Participation Report of 1991.
This scholarly accumulation of statistical data focuses on improving minority achievement and participation, student and community involvement, counseling, teacher expectations, suspensions and student placements. I certainly hope that while stressing student behavior in workshops, this important report and its remedies will not be ignored.
Frederick A. Johnson
At a time when budget cuts have taken a toll on our educational system, it is wonderful to know there are still teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty.
One such teacher is Mr. Watts, an automotive teacher at Southeastern Vocational Technical High School. Mr. Watts' automotive team just placed fourth in the state at the trouble-shooting contest sponsored by Chrysler Corp. and the Automobile Association of America at Catonsville Community College.
Mr. Watts spent countless hours with his students to prepare them for a tense, tough and rewarding competition. I would like to thank Mr. Watts and the hundreds of teachers like him who think that students are more important than budget cuts and who apologize for our government, which seems to lack the intelligence to recognize how important our educational system is to our children.
State test shortchanges our students
During my eight years of teaching I have had opportunity to proctor many standardized tests. The Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests, however, have drastic deficiencies that shortchange our students.
The MSPAP presumes that students have background knowledge in areas to which even our most able children have not been exposed (genetics for eighth graders?). It is unfair to assess a school system using tasks with which our students are unfamiliar.
It is difficult to believe that professional educators would construct a statewide assessment that requires middle-school students to remain seated and working on one portion of a task for up to 90 minutes. The Scholastic Aptitude Test, which most 11th- and 12th-graders take prior to college, requires no more than 30 minutes of concentration at one time.
And the resource book used with the test is comprised of lengthy, difficult readings and maps that were unclear even to many of the teachers proctoring the exam.
What is the rationale for a test that has no validity or reliability and is written in a format inappropriate for developing the critical thinking skills it is supposed to measure? The test in no way holds students accountable.
One must wonder where the $23.5 million spent developing this test has gone. No wonder our students are unable to meet the unrealistic standards set by the state Department of Education.
Joseph W. Bosley
The writer teaches U.S. history at Johnnycake Middle School in Baltimore County.
No regular Joe
Republican senatorial candidate Alan Keyes continues to pay himself a salary out of his campaign fund. This in itself doesn't bother me. It's the amount and his attitude toward criticism that cause a problem.
Mr. Keyes gives himself $8,500 a month, which is a yearly salary of $102,000. Before hitting the campaign trail he earned $290,000 a year.
Mr. Keyes thinks of himself as part of the "beleaguered middle class." The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the 1990 average annual pay in Maryland was $24,730.
I doubt that too many people earning this amount would consider Mr. Keyes' salary middle class.
Mr. Keyes' attitude shows he is out of touch with the struggles of ordinary citizens.
I doubt that he knows enough about living on $25,000 a year to effectively represent the majority of Marylanders.
Permitting the recently ratified congressional salary amendment to take effect would set a dangerous precedent. That should not be allowed to happen.
Edward L. Petzoldt
New Park, Pa.
Long red lights
I cannot believe how long the red lights are in the Baltimore area. I have been able to compose articles, put on copious amounts of makeup, polish my nails and read this week's edition of TV Guide while waiting for the traffic light to turn green.
Now, don't get me wrong. I know that older citizens and the disabled need a little more time to cross the street, but this is ridiculous. My grandmother could cross the street, do her shopping and cross back in the time that it take the red lights in this town to turn green.
On a more serious ecological note, thousands of gallons of gasoline are being burned needlessly in a time when we need to think seriously about conservation. Also, the extra amount of pollution emitted by all of those idling automobile engines is a horror to imagine.
Who decided that these traffic lights have to be so long? I am urging the concerned citizens of Baltimore, who have probably spent months of their lives sitting at red lights, to fight back and contact their government officials.
Urge them to look into this needless waste of irreplaceable natural resource. With the recent tax increase on gasoline, this action may also save you money at the gas pump.