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It's the responsibility of all parents to...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

It's the responsibility of all parents to read to their children

In response to the Opinion Commentary article ("Teaching the young child" Jan. 22): I can do nothing but agree with state schools chief Nancy Grasmick that children need to be read to from the moment they enter this world. Most children start preschool at the age of 3, too late to gain those most important skills to "help determine future success." Therefore it is the parents' or parent's responsibility to do so. Let's educate the parents.

Why not include in prenatal classes, Lamaze classes and birthing classes sessions on the importance of reading to and speaking to your children? Why can it not be taught that the intellect, as well as the child's physical health, must be nurtured? Why not have literature in the obstetrician's office stressing the importance of reading to your child?

And why not send a bag of brightly colored children's books home from the hospital with the newborn, along with the diapers, formula, baby powder and store coupons? Nurture the intellect and the physical well being of the child. Teach that to parents.

I am the mother of four children, ages 3 to 24 years old. I have lived through varying degrees of economic stress and security. I have worked full time outside of the home, and I have stayed at home. I have been a single parent. But I have read to my children since they were 2 days old.

I have carried them around the home from room to room talking quietly about the pictures on the wall and the trees outside the window. My husband still reads to our 8 1/2 year old every night before she falls asleep. And yes, it takes time, but what an important gift to give. And it's free.

The government should do more. Preschool and kindergarten environments should be provided that will help to develop skills. But isn't 3 too late? Shouldn't our money be spent early in the life of the young child, on educating the parents?

We cannot continue to pass the most important job of educating our children to others. It is the responsibility of each and every parent to read, read, read to their children. And it is the responsibility of those of us that know that, to teach it to those that do not.

Jane Carey-Hallgren, Phoenix

Homeland's concerns are safety, quality of life

I would like to respond to John E. McIntyre's Opinion Commentary article ("Cruising through Homeland" Jan. 18) regarding recent traffic changes in Homeland. Though directed specifically at Homeland, the piece unfortunately disparages in a simplistic and sophomoric manner the right of all residential neighborhoods to address legitimate safety and quality-of-life issues.

Homeland's traffic patterns were designed more than 70 years ago. Obviously, since that time, changes have occurred that have substantially impacted traffic in Homeland. These include the expansion and increased traffic on Northern Parkway, the establishment and enlargement of neighboring schools and colleges, and the reduced reliance on mass transit. It has become increasingly evident that the streets in Homeland and other area residential neighborhoods were not designed to handle this increase in traffic or the higher speeds of today's automobiles and that cut-through traffic should be encouraged to use the more arterial streets.

All neighborhoods, including Homeland and Mr. McIntyre's Hamilton, have the right and responsibility to review the effect of traffic patterns on their quality of life and property values.

Homeland has no barriers and few restrictions to traffic flow. Over the past few years, stop signs, speed humps and limited turning hours have been introduced. These changes were made to reduce the speeds of vehicles and to discourage the cut-through traffic in this solely residential neighborhood by motorists whose sole concern is convenience.

By reducing speeds, a neighborhood is a safer place for its residents, particularly small children, and it is a safer place for nonresidents who visit to enjoy the neighborhood. Homeland has worked closely with Baltimore City on all changes to ensure that they do not unreasonably impact the greater community of which Homeland, and its residents are proud to be an integral part.

Certainly, one of Baltimore's primary assets is the continuing strength of its residential neighborhoods. It is Homeland's belief that, on balance, the safety and quality of life of residential neighborhoods should have priority over cut-through motorist convenience.

William E. Maseth Jr., Baltimore

The writer is president of The Homeland Association.

I am ashamed of The Sun for printing and of John McIntyre for writing such a sarcastic column .

Of course, it is in fun to poke fun at people you think are being uppity and high-toned. However, we, in Homeland, are just like John McIntyre and others who work hard for a living, love their neighborhood and try to treat their fellow men fairly.

I venture to say that his neighborhood was built in about the same era as Homeland and on the same basic premise: quiet neighborhood living with streets just wide enough to handle the local traffic.

Hamilton and Homeland and other older neighborhoods have streets that were built to allow one lane of curb parking and one lane for traffic in either direction. It is obvious that this physical configuration cannot handle rush-hour traffic going in all directions. That is why we have main arteries for traffic, i.e. Northern Parkway, Charles Street, Roland Avenue, etc.

Barbara M. Stevens Baltimore It is painfully obvious that John E. McIntyre doesn't have a clue as to why the residents of Homeland object to motorists taking a shortcut through their neighborhood. Although Mr. McIntyre tells us nothing of his own driving habits, he does describe Baltimore's east/west arteries as "sclerotic," a condition he does not much care for as he rushes his daughter to school. Poor Mr. McIntyre. What is to be done? His answer, of course, is to turn Homeland's narrow streets into an early-morning version of a Disneyland "ride," in which scores of cars twist and turn their way in a kind of big four-wheeled sweepstakes for the shortest route to Charles Street or Roland Avenue.

Betty Bonadio, Homeland

Bills address parents' need for pesticide information

Last year, a bill emerged from the General Assembly that would ensure that parents of elementary schoolchildren are notified before a pesticide application in a school building. Unfortunately, elementary school parents are the only parents who will receive notification immediately before the application. Middle school and high school parents will be informed by notices posted in their children's school and in early school year notices and schedules.

This year, Del. Joan Pitkin and Sen. Brian Frosh are crafting legislation to help protect school children even more from exposure to pesticides.

Ms. Pitkin has drafted a bill that would extend parental notification to day-care parents and parents of children in after-school activities. Mr. Frosh has drafted a bill that would extend parental notification to include outdoor application of pesticides on school grounds. Both pieces of legislation will allow parents to protect their children from possible problems caused by exposure to pesticides.

While these ideas may make complete sense to most of us, you can rest assured that they will have opponents. Citizens should contact delegates and senators early in the assembly session to voice support for these important measures.

Eric Finkelstein-Parker, Baltimore

Sun's commentary on governor hypocritical

The voting machines had barely cooled when rumbling of gas, sales and cigarette tax hikes were heard. Although Marylanders had been promised an accelerated income tax cut, we are now informed that this is fiscally unwise; despite the enormous surplus in our state's coffers and Maryland's "booming" economy.

Based on the past performance of this tax-and-spend administration, many of us are not surprised. What is astonishing, however, is KAL's view (editorial cartoon, Jan. 12), depicting the governor slipping and sliding through his first term and facing similar thin ice in his second term. This was followed by the editorial "Taxes and Spending in Annapolis (Jan. 18) criticizing the governor's tax proposals and even incorporating the name "Spendening".

I find The Sun's stance quite hypocritical after years of promoting this administration, complete with a glowing endorsement in a one-party state in which we have only one major newspaper?

Eve Lallas, Kingsville

To our readers

The Sun welcomes letters from readers. They should be no longer than 200 words and should include the name and address of the writer, along with day and evening telephone numbers.

Send letters to Letters to the Editor, The Sun, P.O. Box 1377, Baltimore 21278-0001. Our fax number for letters is 410-332-6977. The e-mail address is letters@baltsun.com.

All letters are subject to editing.

Pub Date: 1/27/99

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