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All-day kindergarten would cause problems for schools...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

All-day kindergarten would cause problems for schools and kids

After reading The Sun's article "Md. educators study funding for all-day kindergarten plans" (Aug. 30), I intend to write a letter to the State Board of Education opposing a mandatory all-day kindergarten program.

Obviously, this proposal is still in the study stage, but has anyone studied the psychological effect this would have on the children who have no half-day transition?

How about the physical effect when all 5-year-olds are forced to take their much-needed naps in a room with 20 other tossing, turning and whispering children?

Howard Libit wrote: "With more single-parent families and more families with two working parents, more children have been enrolled in full-day child-care programs ... making them more ready for a full day of classes at age 5."

That sounds more like a free day-care offer than an education proposal. And Mr. Libit's descriptions, however accurate, do not apply to all Maryland children.

The article also states that "full-day programs give teachers more time to work on literacy skills . . ." This may be beneficial for children whose parents cannot or will not do the same at home, but many parents do prepare their children with literary skills.

That choice should be left to the parents, not the school board.

Until recently, kindergarten was optional in the state of Maryland. Now, half-day kindergarten is mandatory. Now the state wants full-day kindergarten. What will be next, a mandatory half-day preschool to provide a transitional year?

Maybe the school board would like to take the children once they are potty trained to be certain they are taught correctly.

And for what reason, higher college acceptance numbers for the state?

Kelly Ruth

Abingdon

If we have full-day kindergarten, how will we find the extra teachers who will be needed -- when we already have such a problem filling existing teacher slots?

Are there plans to encourage college students to become teachers by addressing issues of teacher pay and safety and allowing teachers to spend more time on teaching and less time on bureaucracy?

If a school is falling behind, will keeping children in that school for a longer time make a difference?

For that matter, would longer days or a longer school year really be of any benefit if the basic problems of a failing school are not addressed?

And will the loss or reduction of childhood from a child becoming a student earlier be considered in the decision to make kindergarten full time?

Walter R. Hayes

Parkville

What about the childless who support public schools?

The writer of the recent letter "Gore's tax cuts seek to buy votes at public expense" (Sept. 1) rightfully prides himself on paying his children's tuition out of his own pocket, but bemoans Al Gore's proposed tax rebate for college tuition paid by other parents who may not have the cash on hand to pay for college.

The writer conveniently fails to mention the cost of subsidies, such as taxes paid by childless individuals, for the primary and secondary education of other people's children in public schools.

This is a cost that is borne by every taxpayer, whether or not they have children.

I wonder where the writer's six children attended elementary school, not to mention where all those future grandchildren will study?

As a childless individual, I accept my responsibility to society. Indeed, I prefer that my taxes be used to subsidize the education of other people's children in the hope of stemming the tide of ignorance and advancing our culture.

However, it would be nice if someone thanked me for my selfless contribution.

Ted Pearson

Baltimore

More parental involvement would create better schools

Kudos to Gregory Kane for having the courage to touch the "third rail" of education, namely parental involvement ("Math adds up in recent school survey," Aug. 30).

Until parents show more responsibility regarding their children's conduct and learning, our schools will never improve.

James Charvat

Abingdon

On education, neither party appears to have a clue

Mike Lane's Aug. 31 editorial cartoon depicting a Republican elephant trying to copy from a Democratic donkey during a test on education left me wondering what Mr. Lane was trying to convey.

In eight years at the national level and in 20-plus years of leadership at the state and local level, the Democrats have not solved anything in the field of public education. What was the elephant going to learn from those with a track record of poor performance?

Both an elephant and a donkey with dark glasses and white cane would have been a better drawing. The blind leading the blind is how I see the issue.

Larry Johnston

Hereford

Don't blame civil servants for concealing public records

The blame for the confusion over dissemination of public records should not be placed on the civil servants ("Blame set in record denial," Sept. 1).

The blame should be placed on the agencies' management, not with some clerk in an agency where the rules about obtaining public records are equivocal.

It is the unclear rule or regulation that can get an employee into trouble, and unfairly so.

The problem is not with the "gatekeeper," the civil servant at the front desk of the agency, as Republican Del. Joseph M. Getty asserted.

Rather it is with the agencies' management, which need to make public information rules clear and uniform so that their civil servants know what to do when someone asks for public records.

Gerardine M. Delambo

Baltimore

Kinship aside, the city needs talented people

Let me suggest another story line for The Sun's front page article "O'Malley, deputy mayor defend brothers hiring" (Sept. 1). How about an emphasis on the fact that for the first time in a decade bright, accomplished people are again attracted to public service because of the energy and example of our new mayor?

The fact that an Emmy Award-winning journalist such as Kevin Enright was willing to forgo a higher-paying job in the private sector to serve Baltimore should be celebrated, not derided or questioned.

It is going to take a lot of bright committed people to make Baltimore a great place to live, work and raise a family again.

I personally don't care whose brother those people are, if they are the best-qualified candidate for the position and can get the job done.

We need all the help we can get.

Dale McArdle

Baltimore

Idle pets article was on the mark

The Maryland SPCA always encourages owners to provide proper activity for their pets, and I was very happy to see a well-researched and sensible article on the topic ("Don't let sleeping dogs and cats lie," Aug. 27).

In the advice sessions and classes we hold for pet owners, we have found that most difficult and destructive behavior from pets is because of a lack of exercise.

When pets are bored or stressed, they will find something to do, and it's usually something we don't like.

Aileen O. Gabbey

Baltimore

The writer is the executive director of the Maryland SPCA.

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