What About Responsibility?
While reading the article about being poor in a wealthy county in the June 11 Sun for Howard County, I felt compassion for the individuals described and, indeed, I will and do share my earnings to assist them. But some additional questions begged to be asked, and weren't.
If Rosie Cole did not have marketable skills for employment, why did she have four children? Why are there no child support payments from the children's father? Why didn't Neal Vaughn quit smoking in the 1960s when it became clear smoking was bad for one's health? There must and will be a safety net for those who need it in our society, but personal responsibility must also play a part.
Over the past several months we have heard and read about the bidding of school bus contracts.
Some general facts need to be made known: School busing was never intended to be in the competitive marketplace because of the precious cargo involved. It was designed with safety in mind, meeting the needs of the individual county at a reasonable cost. Who better to do the job than the local people who care about the local children?
Now that bidding has arrived, it is neighbor against neighbor as to who can cut what in order to bid the lowest price.
Does the school board really think this will not show up in less maintenance of the vehicle? Pride in the upkeep of the vehicle will diminish. Pay and benefits for the employees will be less.
The contractors of Howard County over the years have demonstrated and proven they can do the difficult and challenging task of transporting children safely.
The contractors have offered to work with the school board to cut costs, but have not received any consideration to their ideas. Is this any way to treat the people who have provided excellent service over the years? The parents and children in the Howard County public school system deserve the best system available.
Bigger and Better
I totally agree with Deborah Kendig's view in her letter of May 28 that the impact of larger high schools will affect programs. However, I would suggest that larger high schools would result in more courses offered and better quality in many other areas. I don't see how "there will be fewer participation opportunities available for kids."
First, there will be more chance that such fields of study as astronomy, Russian, journalism, Shakespeare, religion as well as advanced language and public speaking courses will not be dropped due to a lack of interested students.
Second, by having more youngsters to select from, bands, drama groups, choirs and all athletic teams will benefit with higher standards and more opportunities for presentation.
In addition, many of the single gifted and talented/advanced placement classes may be larger, thereby making better use of the teacher's time and offering a broader exchange of ideas. Instead of teaching seven or eight, perhaps the figures will rise to 10 or 12. . . .
This idea of smaller class size has always bugged me. Obviously, you can offer more individual attention with classes of 15 or 10, but the achievements of students are not all based on the amount of help a teacher can give to an individual. Some onus must rest with the students to learn at school and especially in the home. A good teacher with dedicated students can work wonders no matter what the class size. And a poor teacher can hurt the learning process even in a small class.
Montgomery County has numerous rather large high schools and at least one of them turns out more National Merit Scholars than all of Howard County. So it is really the teachers and students who determine the quality of learning. . . . County Executive Charles Ecker may have been misinterpreted by Ms. Kendig when he was quoted as saying, "Building larger schools will not affect the educational program one iota." I believe he meant that learning would not decline as a result of more students. My feeling is that this approach may actually enhance the learning process. Of course if you are more interested that the "principal know the names of 1,600 to 1,900 individual students," then we best stick to the smaller size.
R. D. Bush
About your June 12 editorial in The Sun for Howard County, "A Complacency Shattered," we once again see the result of our society's fundamental error about criminal behavior, namely that is rational.
Because we continually make this mistake, we continually look for rational responses to that behavior. For instance, we reason that if during a robbery we do everything criminals tell us to do, then, rationally, they will have no reason to harm us. The two unfortunate victims of the recent Scan furniture store robbery and attempted murder should tip us off to how futile and counterproductive that can be. The store employees did exactly as police and company policy advise them to do and exactly as the two thugs instructed them to do, yet they were shot anyway.
What better evidence do we need that criminals do not obey laws and do not behave rationally? We can conclude that advising citizens to just give up and depend upon the sanity and mercy of their attackers to keep them safe does not, in fact, keep them safe.
Passing laws to disarm honest citizens will never disarm criminals. What it does do is make their criminal activities a lot safer for them.
We must relearn what every successful and enduring civilization knows: Compliance and acquiescence encourage crime by making it safer and easier for the criminal, but resistance or even the possibility of resistance discourages crime by making it more dangerous and more difficult for the criminal.
A partial solution is obvious. Honest and law-abiding citizens must always have the option of being armed if they wish to be. Then the criminals will never know exactly what may await them when they commit their crimes.