Competition encourages good grades
The recent discussion about grading Baltimore County students took me back to my early years in a Canadian school.
The monthly report was based on tests on which the student was given a numerical rating. The report listed all the subjects alongside two columns headed "Marks won by bearer" and "Highest marks taken." This allowed comparison with other students in each subject.
The marks won by bearer were totaled and filled in below. The student receiving the highest total was given Rank 1; the next highest received Rank 2. If there was a tie, both students received the same rank.
The final report at the end of the semester was a particularly exciting one. The student who received a first (Rank 1) or honorable mention in one or more subjects had the delightful pleasure of seeing his or her record printed in the newspaper.
I have been away from Canada many years and don't know if that system is still used. But I cannot conceive of a better way to stimulate study. Nothing can match the thrill of seeing one's name in the paper as a top scholar.
If competition works so well in sports and business, why couldn't it do the same in education?
Frances M. Craig
Why not the best?
I have been reading about the new federal health care proposals. One of the big questions is what should be included in the basic package.
I have been covered by the Longshoremen's Health Plan since 1950. Yet in the last few years it has been called a "Cadillac type" plan.
I am willing to give it up. All I want is the same basic health plan "our" elected officials receive.
If it's good enough for senators and congresspeople, its good enough for me. I don't care what its shortcomings are.
Why doesn't someone in your paper investigate and report what various elected officials have voted themselves for a health benefits package?
The projected tax on the "rich" -- people who make $150,000- $200,000 -- also affects directly unincorporated small businesses, including the self-employed.
Because of this and looming health benefits out of reduced zTC profits, hardly a day goes by when I don't hear someone in this group say they are either going out of business, taking early retirement or no longer hiring.
If this is obvious to me and other ordinary citizens, why isn't it obvious to the president and his allies? Can't the powers-that-be add?
Virginia L. Bennett
Enshrine Roy Campanella's life in film
With the passing of one more of the boys of summer -- the great Roy Campanella, who let his actions do the inspiring -- comes recollection and reflection.
I can recall as a youngster in Brooklyn reading, with shock and horror, of Mr. Campanella's auto accident. A couple of years later I went to the library to read his story, "It's Good To Be Alive."
Campanella was the center and soul of the great Dodgers teams, when that ballclub was the center and soul of the borough of Brooklyn.
It all seems an eon ago, and now comes as an intimation of our own mortality, a desire to recall gentler times and to see those times appear again before we go.
We wish to assure ourselves that inspiring lives and the people who lived them will be remembered always by future generations. Such a life belonged to Roy Campanella.
Can there be any question that this man's story should be told again, this time on the wide screen? And can there be any question who should be chosen to most aptly portray the great Brooklyn catcher?
Only one person for the role, so that Campy and his story become immortal: only Forrest Whittaker for the role of Roy Campanella.
Douglas B. Hermann
Spending doesn't necessarily guarantee good schooling
There have been several strong indictions that taxpayers think taxes are high enough and the cost of educating children in Baltimore County is excessive compared to the results.
Roger Hayden was elected to get a handle on the burgeoning county government, which can only be accomplished by trimming and reducing the growth of the bureaucracy. This he has tried to do. The county spent $15,000 to collect $17,000 in donations for education, which proved taxpayers did not think county education was cost-effective.
The 1992 Performance Report verified that the eduction bureaucracy and the staffing of directors, supervisors, coordinators and assistants was excessive, and some of the perks were extravagant or illegal.
During the last decade of abnormal growth, the bureaucracy has exploded at the expense of physical plants and the learning ability of our children. Everyone agrees our children are our most precious asset, including the professional educators, unions and politicians, who control our school system and whose only solution is to throw more money at it. As the United States Post Office and General Motors found out, somebody can do it better and cheaper.
On June 22, the Wall Street Journal published a chart which indicates, in most cases, states whose average expenditure per student was the highest, the SAT rank and the National Association of Education Progress math scores were the lowest. Maryland ranks eighth in average cost per student, 32d in SAT and 25th in math scores. In Maryland, Baltimore County has the third highest cost per student.
What is your definition of public education? Baltimore County, like many other jurisdictions, seems to have a two-tier system in which the quality of public education is geared to where you live. Correcting this inequity and making the gifted-and-talented curriculum available to more students are some of the problems Superintendent Stuart Berger is criticized for trying to rectify.
The county has been a laggard, and is now under a court order to move more special education students into regular classes. The recent unruly demonstration is an example of a mob being manipulated. It played on the emotions of the parents of special education students, and was an example of how special interests try to control our educational system.
To make Dr. Berger the scapegoat for trying to correct these excesses and mistakes of the past seems to be an injustice. No matter who is superintendent, there will be demotions and layoffs because the taxpayers have spoken. No more taxes.
In retrospect, rather than some dedicated civic-minded people confronting these special interest groups, it may be better to let them have their way until they ruin public education. We could then initiate a new system for our most precious asset, focused on students and learning, instead of on special interest and teaching.