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The case for ability groupingI am writing...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The case for ability grouping

I am writing in regard to Kristen Smulsky's letter [Forum, May 27]. Although I agree with much that Ms. Smulsky states, it is a grave misstep to suggest any cuts in the funding of gifted and talented programs in our schools.

Intellectual giftedness transcends economic standing; one has a chance of encountering an intellectually gifted child in the inner city just as well as in the more affluent sections of the state. Giftedness is not endemic to any particular race, sex or income level. It is found among the physically challenged and sometimes found in tandem with learning disabilities such as dyslexia.

Every child deserves an education which meets his or her particular capabilities and needs. One good and workable way to meet this goal is through the use of ability grouping in our schools.

The concept of ability grouping has been put aside in the past few years. Instead, most public schools have abandoned it in favor of a heterogeneous grouping.

Heterogeneous grouping, while at first seen as the great solution for giving each child unbiased and equitable opportunities, frankly does not appear to be working and often frustrates teachers, students and classroom management.

Ability grouping allows a child to learn according to his or her capability, in a class composed of his or her intellectual peers. Classes can proceed at a pace dictated by the needs of the students.

More importantly, it allows those in the general and remedial groups to demonstrate classroom leadership and allows each an equal chance to excel among their peers. What could be better for instilling a strong sense of self-esteem in each child?

This is the time for parents, teachers, advocates and students to speak out for educational reforms. Whatever your own personal philosophy may be, speak now. Join an advocacy group. Keep PTA and PTSA groups active during the summer months. Keep a dynamic interest in every aspect of your children's (or grandchildren's or nieces' or nephews') academic activity.

Delores C. Peck

Jarrettsville

The writer is president of Maryland Advocacy for Gifted Individuals and Instruction Inc.

Messiah to the floundering masses

There's a lot of bile out here in voterland, and Congress is largely responsible for the cynicism and disillusionment.

Congress has been engendering this for a long time by its sloppy ethics, its self-indulgences, its chronic contempt for principle and its unapologetic choice of self-serving expediency in the problems it addresses.

Because of the ill-timed recession, President Bush was also caught up in the anti-incumbency tide and his ratings began to plummet. True, he has earned some of this unpopularity by his own waffling on principle -- his eagerness for bipartisan niceness and reluctance to bite the bullet on controversial issues. Perhaps he has learned his lesson.

But heaven forbid that voter disenchantment should cause Americans to leap lemming-like into the sea of presidential change just for the sake of change.

Ross Perot, who parlayed his slick salesmanship into the billionaire bracket, has translated voter discontent into a ripe opportunity for himself.

If one is vain, ambitious, imperious and bored with the amusements his vast wealth can provide, what better place to seek a new bauble than at the White House -- and what better time than when the natives are restless?

It must have been important to Ross Perot to transmit the "messiah" image to the floundering masses looking for a leader. Thus he went to some pains to contrive his "spontaneous reaction" by means of a seemingly casual comment on CNN's "Larry King Show."

However, it later came out that there was nothing at all "spontaneous" about it -- it was actually the result of carefully laid plans made a year or so earlier. Deception is not a desirable quality in a presidential candidate.

In his frequent TV appearances, Mr. Perot has squelched TV hosts when their questions became too searching by smugly asserting that the American people didn't really care about that.

Suffice it for the American people that he, Ross Perot, happened along just when they needed him. He will graciously make his services available and fix all their problems.

And if he can be accused of buying the presidency, so what? He'll be buying it "for the people." Hallelujah! In their eagerness to bear this great "messiah" to the White House on their shoulders, let us hope the American people pause long enough to think.

H. J. Rizzo

Baltimore

Race and lawyers

On June 11 your newspaper published a letter by Frank Conaway under the headline "Buying black." Talk about racist! This type of rhetoric is what racism is all about.

There are honest and competent black lawyers in this community and there are dishonest and incompetent black lawyers. The same is true of white lawyers. Each person should choose a lawyer because of his or her abilities as a lawyer, not because of skin color.

Mr. Conaway proves his ignorance by suggesting that "attorneys don't need any special expertise to settle accident cases." Certainly no intelligent and competent black lawyer would subscribe to that statement.

At our law firm we spend a great deal of time and money training our young associates in the proper methods of handling and settling accident cases. Each case is carefully screened and discussed with a more experienced lawyer before the ultimate decision is made to recommend a settlement.

I challenge Mr. Conaway to appear at a class I teach in interviewing, counseling and negotiating at the University of Baltimore Law School and teach my senior law students the fine points of settling accident cases that he so cavalierly describes as "unworthy of special expertise."

Wake up, black consumers! Don't do what racists have always done. Don't choose your business associations because of race. Choose them because of honesty, fairness and competence.

Harold P. Dwin

Baltimore

The writer is a partner in the Baltimore law firm Cohen, Dwin & Garfield, P.A.

Mickey, not Elvis

Who cares what Elvis would say? I'm sickened, disgusted, appalled, disappointed and outraged that a U.S. postal stamp was issued for Elvis Presley.

It's a shame they didn't give us a choice between Mickey Mouse and Elvis. How many of us would have voted for Mickey Mouse?

Would someone please give us a Mickey stamp? He has done more for this country then Elvis ever dreamed of. I know if I had to love something tender and true, Mickey Mouse would be my choice.

Kathleen Cox

Ellicott City

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