To embrace reading, children must learn what...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

To embrace reading, children must learn what it means to 0) them

I have read with interest the articles in your Reading by 9 series. They have brought many of the complexities of teaching reading to the attention of the public.

The April 26 article "Fads in reading come and go" quoting Donald B. Hofler as saying good reading instruction "begins with an awareness of the alphabet combined with an awareness of how the sounds and letters go together" is not quite accurate.

Research in the early childhood area has shown that effective instruction begins with the development of oral language through purposeful conversations that help children understand the how and why of communication.

I emphasize this because what I see in my first-grade classroom is that the children who become successful readers are those who see reading as an exciting new channel of communication. Parents and other significant adults must talk with their children to help stimulate the child's development of communication skills.

Reading just does not make sense to a child who does not intrinsically understand the importance of communication in allowing us to meet our most basic needs.

Stephanie Kimmons

Baltimore

Shipbreaking criticism self-serving for newspaper

The Sun's editorial "Shipbreaking scandal takes a new turn" ** (April 23), in response to the federal shipbreaking panel's decision, needs a reality check and appears extraordinarily self-serving. Reporters Gary Cohn and Will Englund started their article two years before it was published in 1997, and they failed to note the progress of regulatory agencies.

During that time, the regulatory agencies jumped on the shipbreakers like vultures on road kill. They are just not "pecking," they have full-time, on-site inspectors. A check of the regulating agencies will show current national compliance.

For a reality check on the local perspective, an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection of the Coral Sea, where no deaths have occurred, was interrupted by a worker's death at the Dundalk Marine Terminal. The Coast Guard, with no local record, ever, of a shipbreaking spill, responded to a sizable spill at the Locust Point Terminal.

PCBs, according to the record, have not been a compliance issue, while Bethlehem Steel has had violations.

There is no record of poisons being discharged from or existing aboard the surplus ships while the port has a record of such spills and handles them routinely. I must applaud Patricia A. Rivers' panel because it didn't react to the gospel according to The Sun and went out and looked at the reality of the current compliance.

Barry E. Chambers

White Marsh

The writer is a former program administrator at the Maryland Department of the Environment and a consultant to a company contracted to dismantle the USS Coral Sea.

Higher pay, lower caseload will protect children better

The General Assembly shares Dan Rodricks' concern that we have not adequately invested in the prevention of child abuse ("We can't get off cheaply in protecting our children," May 1). This past session, we took action to address this problem.

House Bill 1133, the Child Welfare Workforce Initiative, requires the secretary of Human Resources to develop and implement a plan by Dec. 31 for recruiting, training and retaining child welfare service caseworkers and supervisors.

This legislation, introduced by Del. Maggie L. McIntosh, requires a review of caseworkers' salaries, sets standards and qualifications for caseworkers and ends the use of contractual employees in these positions.

In the budget bill, the General Assembly instructed the secretary to develop a comprehensive plan to improve the qualifications of caseworkers and reduce the caseload-to-staff ratio. This action was proposed by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Resources, which Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg chairs.

In response to a similar directive from last year's General Assembly, salaries have risen by $2,600 to $5,746 for caseworkers in the Family Investment Program, Maryland's welfare reform.

Our children will be better protected if caseworkers are better paid and have fewer cases to handle. These actions are designed to attain that outcome.

#Del. Maggie L. McIntosh

Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg

Annapolis

The writers represent the 42nd District in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Better to build bridges than horse-racing purses

Gov. Parris N. Glendening and the lawmakers in Annapolis eagerly allot millions of dollars of taxpayers' money for unneeded purse increases at Laurel and Pimlico racetracks, but they can't find funds for needed road repairs on the Potee Street bridge. The condition of this main thoroughfare is a disgrace to the citizens of Baltimore.

Does the road have to collapse into the Patapsco River before action is taken?

John Zaruba

Baltimore

Father in cartoon needs gun safety lessons

The April 29 editorial cartoon by KAL hit the nail on the head regarding guns. It's no surprise to me that the final frame is, well, the final frame.

Had the father been a member of the National Rifle Association, he would have been taught not to let his little boy (or girl) point a gun at anyone, even a toy gun. He would also have learned not to keep an apparently loaded, unlocked gun where it is accessible to children.

The NRA has always stood for gun education and safety. Clearly the cartoon father doesn't.

Gene Edwards

Eldersburg

This letter is prompted by recent events in Arkansas, Pennsylvania and most recently, Harford County. My two children attend elementary school here in Harford County, and recently we received a letter stating that an 8-year-old boy had made a gun threat against another child. It later turned out that the child did not have a weapon or any access to weapons.

However, this did bring home the great fear and anguish of what could -- and already has happened -- elsewhere. This country was built on principles that include the right to bear arms. But the Boston Tea Party was a long time ago, the British will not be coming back and the Wild West is not so wild anymore.

There comes a time when the rights of a society do not outweigh the rights of an individual to safety. This is especially true when the individual is a child who is simply attending elementary school. Tighter gun control would be a significant step to ensure that a child comes home with their lunch bag rather than in a body bag.

Mark A. Smith

Abingdon

Can slot machines rescue cash-strapped public schools? Or would expanded gambling create more problems than it solves? We welcome your opinion on this and other current topics.

xTC Pub Date: 5/06/98

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