Teach children according to their abilitiesI find...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Teach children according to their abilities

I find Baltimore School Superintendent Walter Amprey's response to the U.S. Department of Education's National Excellence report (Nov. 5) typical of public school administrators.

He and they are wrong when they say students shouldn't be put in categories.

They say that dividing children into classes according to ability will make the poorer students feel bad (as if they don't already know who the smart kids are), prevent the good students from the "experience" of teaching the poor students (sorry, eight-year-olds aren't trained to be teachers), prevent children of different abilities from interacting (as if they don't see each other on the bus and in the neighborhoods), cause children to only make friends with those of like abilities (children of like ability and interest seek out each other anyway) and divide kids according to race and culture. (Do school administrators assume certain races and cultures are smarter than others? I hope not).

A second-grade teacher cannot meet the needs of all her children when some are struggling with "Hop on Pop" and others are reading Nancy Drew. What does a teacher do when some kids are ready for multiplication and others still have problems with addition?

What happens is that the teacher works with the slower students while the smarter ones wait. Eventually the teacher moves on, leaving the poorest students confused and frustrated.

When my daughter was in the second grade, she spent three-fourths of her class time bored, waiting for others to finish assignments and tests. As a result, she started to have stomach aches.

Categorizing children and placing them in classes according to ability is exactly what is needed. It allows teachers to properly tailor lessons to the students' ability. It keeps the students of all abilities challenged and keeps them from being frustrated and bored.

Children have different abilities, and the school system should face up to reality and teach our children accordingly.

Carl J. Oppenheim

Owings Mills

Cloning

A recent news report stating that human cloning was successfully accomplished left me dazed, confused and struggling to understand why seemingly intelligent people need to do this.

I believe that our heavenly maker has a plan that does not include this. Granted there are some interesting if not bizarre possibilities, like having one child now and an identical one later, if the first doesn't work out. The possibilities are mind bending.

The bad outweighs the good on this one and we may just be a little too close to playing God. You don't have to look too hard at history to see how time after time a seemingly innocent thing turns into a real wrong. Does Adolph Hitler and the perfect race ring a bell? When will we learn?

Toni Ebling

Baltimore

Health plans

As a state employee I would like to reply to Marc Miller's letter of Oct. 29, concerning state workers' health benefits.

Mr. Miller writes that "state employees are up in arms over proposed increases," that he is "a taxpayer employed in private industry who receives no assistance from either the state or my employer for health insurance," and asks, "What's the problem?"

Presently the starting salary for the equivalent of my job in private industry is more than double what it is with the state.

After 24 years in this job and even after being promoted to supervisor, I have never attained the starting salary that private industry presently pays for the work I do.

State salaries have fallen pitifully behind private industry. Perhaps if I were one of those in private employment and had a salary like private workers have, I would be able to afford to pay my own health insurance. Many in private industry receive assistance from their employers in purchasing health care.

Mr. Miller asks, "Why should I have to subsidize someone else's plan when I can barely afford to take care of my own family?"

I believe that all of us "subsidize" each other. Every time I patronize the bank, the grocery store, the doctor, the gas station, etc., or purchase any product, I subsidize the workers' and owners' salaries and health insurance.

In addition, as John O'Brien stated in his letter of Nov. 1, "State workers and retirees are taxpayers too." (Thank you, Mr. O'Brien!)

Maybe one of the reasons state workers have taken jobs at the low salaries is their health plan that The Evening Sun calls "diamond-studded." I ask you to tell the whole story when reporting on what is being offered state employees and why.

Rita Connor

Baltimore

NAFTA disaster

The loud sucking sound you hear is NAFTA moving jobs, industry and our tax base down the tubes from the U.S. to Mexico.

My grandfather, a toolmaker in the Rhode Island textile industry, heard the same sucking sound as textile factories moved across not national but state borders to the cheap labor of the South. Rhode Island is still depressed, while textiles since went overseas.

As a merchant seaman, I heard the sucking sound as the U.S. merchant fleet and related industries collapsed from thousands of vessels to around 300 ships today. The maritime environment is international, like NAFTA, and therefore is a microcosm of what NAFTA could do to our country.

The giant Mexican labor pool is standing by for exploitation to form the greatest "sucking sound" in U.S. history as special interest lobbies spread lies and millions of dollars to hoodwink the U.S. people.

The only possibility I see for NAFTA is as a "solution" to the U.S. drug problem: who would be left with enough to purchase drugs, or have enough to be robbed for drugs?

Charles H. Rogers

Towson

Injustice to taxi drivers

Gregory P. Kane's Oct. 25 Evening Sun column, "Blacks aren't the only ones who can't hail a Baltimore cab," is not only without fact but it is also outrageous and very divisive.

Mr. Kane writes on the basis of one interview with an ex-Baltimore cab driver that blacks are not picked up because they "have a reputation for being poor tippers."

Mr. Kane should be reprimanded for deliberately distorting the facts.

First of all, his source, Robin Miller, whom he represents as a cab driver "honest enough to admit what's going on," is not a taxicab driver and has not been one for some time.

Robin Miller, who is Gregory Kane's regular driver, picks up Mr. Kane and his other clients in a sedan that is clearly not a taxicab.

Mr. Miller speaks only for himself. His theory is not only hurtful but inaccurate and is a travesty to those taxi drivers who put their lives on the line every day to serve the people of Baltimore.

Ask 20 real cab drivers, as Gregory Kane should have done, what their chief concern is when driving a cab, and they will tell you it is making a safe living.

Therefore, it is absurd to conclude that a driver would pass up a passenger or "bird in the hand" to search for another who might give a bigger tip.

Drivers can't afford to waste their time or gasoline driving around speculating for "big tippers." This is a ridiculous concept.

We work very hard to ensure that all customers get good cab service in Baltimore, regardless of their ability, disability, race, creed or color.

Unfortunately, there are times when one does have to wait for a cab; it happens, at times, to all of us, regardless of who we are or where we are.

The taxicab industry in Baltimore has been among the most progressive in the nation.

We have started programs like Golden Ride to serve senior citizens and Sober-ride to keep drunk drivers off the streets.

We placed into service wheel chair accessible taxicabs known as "Taxi Plus" to serve the disabled; we transport blood to hospitals; we transport the indigent, oftentimes without compensation, and serve Baltimore's many hospitals, HMOs and large population on medical assistance.

Yes, we unfortunately, at times cannot meet all the high standards we set. But we work very hard trying to maintain high standards.

We are in this very tough and, at times, risky business for one reason and one reason only: We care about the people we serve.

Mr. Kane's article does our drivers a great injustice.

Mark L. Joseph

Baltimore 6The writer is president of Yellow Transportation Inc.

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