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The fourth R moves nation out of...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The fourth R moves nation out of risk

Recently there have been many articles on the education problem in Maryland and in the country.

The reason we are called "A Nation at Risk" is because too many children are not absorbing what they are taught.

In addition, it seems the administrators, principals and teachers are not partners in the same organization for the best possible education of the children. All must communicate their best resources and plans for a good system. It can work.

Many blame the failure on politics, the bureaucracy, the budget, the information world, labor unions, the tests, property taxes, parents, class sizes, non-competitive teachers, no choice or vouchers, etc.

Why not look inside the elementary schoolhouse and its curriculum of the three R's? The fourth R is Reason -- thinking. It must be made into a separate subject that is taught to all grades, by the media specialist for example. All students must be given the opportunity to develop the neural pathways more fully in the formative years, so that they will be more capable of greater things now and in the future. That is why the fourth R must be a subject with its own categories.

I am ready to give a one-hour demonstration to an elementary class in any school with its media specialist, to show the initiation of reasoning and thinking as a separate process in education.

Alvin Polan

Owings Mills

Father and son

I find it interesting that one of the most vocal opponents to President Clinton's plan to end the ban on homosexuals serving in the military has a son who is gay. I wonder how many others who support the ban do have family members who are gay.

A detail about the article "Father and son: at odds but at peace" (May 16) needs further explanation.

First, since Col. Fred Peck basically admitted that Scott Peck was his son sired while the elder Peck was a midshipman, then Colonel Peck broke the Uniform Code of Military Justice by engaging in sexual relations with someone to whom he was not married . . .

Louis Richards

Baltimore

Counting the days

The only good thing about President Clinton's first 100 days in office is that he only had 1,360 days left.

Hopefully, time will fly.

John C. Zaruba

Baltimore

Pampered addicts

Substance abusers are being pampered by us -- kept on other forms of drugs, given Social Service checks, never given a fair break so they can break free. Tough love and a firm commitment to cure their addictions are what is needed.

Maryland could lead the way, but where are our leaders? Someone must help break the cycle of hell on earth for these wretched souls.

Lorrie Buckler

Yale Heights

Great event

It is a great event that Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski III has been chosen to run a predominantly white university, UMBC. Dr. Hrabowski, George Russell, Kurt Schmoke and other black leaders have shown that they will not be deterred, that they will persevere until they succeed.

It would be wonderful if black leaders could develop programs to instill the same incentive in youth and stop the senseless killing of young black men.

Henry J. Knott Jr.

Baltimore

Independent judge

A staunch bulwark of democracy in a free society is an independent judiciary.

One need only recall the infamous Nazi judge Roland Freisler, who presided over the farcical trials of the conspirators against Hitler, to know that a non-independent judiciary can work hand in glove with special interest groups and can bring about political change according to the will of those in a society who cause the most commotion, and not necessarily in conformity with what should be done.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Judge Thomas Bollinger in his views, most agree that he did what in his conscience he thought was the right thing.

To be sure, it is the right in a free society of those who disagree with him to show their disagreement by picketing and making statements.

However, when they make statements such as, "We will continue to picket until Judge Bollinger is disciplined," or they attempt to have him removed from the bench, they cross the line separating the rest of society from an independent judiciary.

We put individuals of wisdom on the bench and elect them for 15 years in order to insulate them from plebiscites. To force any judge to bow to the will of any activist group is wrong and constitutes a subtle but dangerous precedent whereby eventually people, and not laws, will rule.

L. Robert Evans

Towson

French lesson

It took 51 days of bungling and mistakes by the FBI and ATF to rid Waco, Texas, of cult leader David Koresh. Many lives were lost.

A story in The Sun May 16 reveals how a 46-hour kidnapping siege in Paris was handled by members of RAID -- the French police. This crazed person took six little girls and a teacher -- He was armed with dynamite. RAID performed with hair-raising heroism.

Is there a lesson that we can learn from the French? There were no long days of indecision and pizza deliveries -- and no deaths.

Arlene A. Banks

Glyndon

Drivers beware

The purpose of this letter is to alert drivers that though we have been advised that renewal notices are mailed to our homes 60 days before expiration, these notices do not always arrive. As a result, many drivers find that they are driving on expired licenses.

When this happens, drivers must start from scratch -- that is they must take all the tests -- to secure their licenses again.

Remember, the burden of renewals is your responsibility. Foul-ups of computers and mail is not an excuse to the Motor Vehicle Administration. So, drivers beware. Check your license often and before expiration occurs.

Morris Kroop

Laurel

Angelo Gatto, youth symphony maestro

Recently I attended a concert at Catonsville Community College given by the Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra. This is a bona fide symphony orchestra that can do just about any major composition, yet they are all young people ranging in age from junior high school through senior high.

Since they began in 1964, I have been able to attend about 60 of these concerts, and I have never been disappointed.

Just to look at this group of fresh young faces is enjoyable, but to hear them perform is delightful. You cannot believe they can play so well.

Whether they are doing a Beethoven symphony or an opera matters little. They deal with the best of the classics so that we are entranced by this oasis of beauty in our troubled society of today.

Angelo Gatto, who founded this orchestra, is a conductor par excellence, as he is a violinist, composer and teacher.

As a teacher he is superb. Once when the orchestra was dTC practicing a Strauss waltz he stopped the group and pointed to a young violist.

"You played A flat," he said. "It should be A natural."

"I did play A natural," the girl replied.

Angelo shook his head and took her instrument. In a second he adjusted her violin. "Now you have A natural."

Sometimes he would pause to give a history or an interesting anecdote about music.

He was adept at getting the group to perfect "bel canto," the beautiful singing of the different instruments blending together.

"Don't play notes," he would say, "Play music, play with your soul."

When the music built to a crescendo he would yell, "loud, forte, forte!" And when the music softened he would put his finger to his lips, "shh, soft, soft, like a breath, like a heart beat."

When he conducted the Royal Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra in London he received seven standing ovations. He has led this young group to perform in Asia and Europe, and next summer they are aiming for Italy.

May this delightful Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra have many more years along with Angelo Gatto.

They deserve so much gratitude for the 30 years of beautiful music they have given us both here and abroad.

F. Joseph Sebly

Catonsville

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