The county needs another high school
I am excited about this school year because my 5-year-old daughter, the apple of my eye, goes to kindergarten this year. I look forward to her education at Crofton Woods Elementary School with great anticipation.
I believe, from the principal on down, that this is an excellent school. The one immediate worry I have is about the size of my daughter's class, which has 24 students.
But I am much more concerned about another issue relating to the education of my daughter and 2-year-old son.
That problem is the continued need to build a much-needed 13th high school in the county.
Currently the children of Gambrills/Crofton are split between two high schools.
One of them, Arundel High, is 25 minutes away and the other, South River High School is 30 minutes away. Both schools are overcrowded, and the problem will only get worse.
By 2008, at least 11 of our county's 12 high schools will be over their capacity.
Teachers will not have their own classrooms, classrooms and hallways will be so overcrowded that this will significantly impact the quality our children's education and most high schools will be ineligible to accept out-of-area transfers.
And because there is no high school in Gambrills, students at Crofton Middle School are not able to take advanced courses at a nearby high school.
Because there is not an after-school activity bus, many students are unable to participate in extracurricular activities at Arundel or South River high schools.
This is not a new problem for central and western Anne Arundel County.
In 1975, children were being educated in split shifts and the schools were so overcrowded that the school board purchased land next to the Crofton Middle School in order to build a high school. Unfortunately, that school was never built.
I reside in Crofton and have a school-aged child who would greatly benefit from the building of a high school in Crofton.
But building a high school in Crofton would not only benefit the children of Crofton, Gambrills and Odenton. It would also benefit all children who go to Arundel High School, Meade High School, South River High School, Old Mill High School and all other high schools that are currently or will soon be over functional capacity.
And, by supporting a 13th high school, not only are you supporting the education of our children but also ensuring that Anne Arundel County continues to be an attractive place to live.
This will help preserve and increase our property values.
Richard R. Trunnell
Both phonics, content needed to teach reading
I am writing to commend The Sun for its commitment to educating the community about the importance of reading development and language learning through its Reading by Nine program.
I am a teacher of reading and language arts in various area schools and I find this reporting to be informative to parents and professionals alike.
I was particularly interested in The Sun's coverage in its Aug. 27 Anne Arundel section.
The article "New teachers in Baltimore introduced to reading program" (Aug. 27) highlighted a reading program being introduced to new teachers in Baltimore that is based on the explicit teaching of sound-symbol relationships.
On the same page, The Sun also described the delight of a young reader who is motivated to read, read and read some more by captivating literature ("Adventure tales inspire Carroll County boy," Aug. 27).
This is the kind of balance that new and experienced teachers, as well as parents, need to remember in supporting their children's learning.
It takes both phonics and the richness of connected text to support readers' search for meaning.
Lynn Z. Lang
Boy Scouts deserve access to public square
I am writing to express my support for the Boy Scouts of America.
The Clinton administration and the federal government should be supportive of this institution -- which has provided valuable service to this nation's children for decades.
But hiding behind a distorted reading of the law, the administration and others have chosen to chastise the organization because of its stance on homosexuality.
Homosexuals are not entitled to special protection under the Constitution, nor should they receive such protection. And no government -- federal, state, or local -- should retaliate or punish the Boy Scouts because of its position on homosexuals.
Reports that government officials across the country plan to deprive the Scouts of the use of public parks and facilities are disgusting.
We all have a right to use these facilities regardless of our personal views on issues -- and the Boy Scouts are no exception.
Babies didn't volunteer to be guinea pigs
In The Sun's article "OK for funds renews stem cell study hopes" (Aug. 27), Dr. John Gearhart is quoted saying, "they want to be guinea pigs."
He's referring to adults with Parkinson's Disease, spinal cord injuries and other ailments signing up to use fetal tissues to cure their ailments.
But how many of these poor dead babies who are the source of those cells signed up to volunteer their brains and stem cells for Dr. Gearhart's research?
Bush's means can fulfill Gore's ambitious ends
Vice President Al Gore's proposed goals include raising the rate of college attendance to 75 percent and college completion to 50 percent, creating 10 million high-technology jobs, ensuring that seven in 10 families own their homes and eliminating the federal debt by 2012.
I think that I can help Mr. Gore. If he would enact Texas Gov. George W. Bush's school testing program, followed by his voucher program for dysfunctional schools, then the 50 percent college completion rate should be a breeze.
Encourage the signing of the Republican tax cut plans, thereby putting more money back into the pockets of the country's working people, and the homeownership goal is realistic.
And to eliminate the federal debt, Mr. Gore will have to modify the $800 billion of new federal spending that he has proposed.
If Mr. Gore follows these ideas, then he may in fact achieve his goals.
On the other hand, it may just be easier for him to vote for Mr. Bush.
U.S. policy in Colombia may fuel a wider war
Despite The Sun's front-page article on the growing involvement of the United States in Colombia and its civil war, the media has essentially given the presidential candidates a free pass on this major foreign policy issue ("U.S. puts aid at risk in Colombia," Aug. 30).
As $1.3 billion and U.S. military advisers are sent to Colombia, commentators should be demanding that the candidates stop pontificating about integrity and military preparedness and tell us how they will handle this increasingly volatile situation.
In past decades, U.S. foreign policy was defined by anti-communism -- which often meant American support for corrupt military dictatorships that maintained power by torturing and murdering their own people.
The "war on drugs" has replaced anti-communism as our current moral crusade and Colombia, with its paramilitary death squads and drug dealers, has become the focal point for combating the drug trade.
President Clinton has waived the strict human rights conditions attached to the Colombian aid package on the grounds of "national security."
It may be that the true meaning of national security once again involves the access of multinational corporations to huge oil reserves, in this case those located in Colombia. (And it should be added that these corporations contribute vast sums of money to political campaigns.)
Concerns about human rights have been put on the backburner, while money and resources are thrown into the pit of this misguided, ineffective U.S. policy.
Rather than incarcerating drug users in overcrowded prisons or pursuing dangerous interdiction schemes in Colombia, it may be more effective to fund drug treatment and education programs here at home.
One hopes that "the best and the brightest" won't bamboozle us into a long, dirty war in Colombia the way their predecessors bamboozled us into a long, dirty war in Vietnam.