Advertisement

Letters to the Editor

March 25, 1999

Reading help makes a real

difference

To the editor:

I am writing in response to Deanna Bailey's letter to the editor of March 11. Bailey seems to think that there is no need for a reading program in the middle school if it means shaving a little time from such subjects as sewing, art or phys ed or even the music programs. Instead, she recommends introducing the reading program in high school.

I am an involved parent at Emma K. Doub Elementary. I am CAC chairperson, substitute teacher, and a volunteer, so I spend a lot of time with the students and teachers. Part of my involvement as a volunteer includes participation in the tutoring program which is part of the new Countywide Reading Initiative in our elementary schools. I am seeing firsthand the positive results our students are deriving from the program. At the elementary level, it has enabled the staff to improve and strengthen curriculum with very measurable results. Now, we will have the opportunity to see this incredibly beneficial initiative at work in our middle schools.

Advertisement

According to Mrs. Shumaker, principal at E. R. Hicks, the plan at that school is to reduce academic periods by five minutes each, thereby providing the time for an additional period of reading every day. The students will be going from a five period day to a six period day. According to Mr. Stenersen, principal at Springfield, they will reduce time in the Related Arts segment of the curriculum to make room for reading classes. My understanding is that at every middle school in the county, administrators will be doing their best to continue to give all students every subject they have now. In effect, no programs will actually be sacrificed. The curriculum in the other academic classes will be strengthened with increased reading strategies in their content. The proposed differentiated reading program will teach according to reading level, using a range of materials. Thus, children who are already at a minimum level will be given the help they need to improve their skills. Those in the middle of the scale will also be taught accordingly.

What I am hearing from too many parents is "my child already reads well, therefore his middle school does not need a reading program." I wonder how many of these parents volunteer to work at their schools with children who have not yet mastered average reading skills. The numbers of children at his level are surprising. The positive results from the reading programs are astounding. Ask any reading specialist in the county. Surely you know that there is a proven correlation between how well a child reads and how well he will succeed in school. If he reads well, he is likely to do well in academic subjects. Conversely, if a child reads poorly, he will do poorly in those subjects. Now, if you want to use the MSPAP fifth grade satisfactory reading score of 43.6 percent for something useful, consider what it implies: basically, fewer than half of our fifth graders are reading at a satisfactory level. How then can you propose to deny them in middle school or at any other level the one tool from which they could benefit the most throughout their lives? I have never heard a parent say, "my child reads too well, we really have to slow him down or he'll ruin his life."

Our middle school administrators and staff are to be congratulated for working out a way to get reading back into their curriculum with minimal detriment to other programs. I believe it is every parent's obligation is support the County Reading Initiative at every level of education. If your middle schools will be holding special meetings to introduce their specific programs to the families in their districts, I urge all parents to attend, including fourth and fifth grade parents at the feeder schools. Learn everything you can about the Countywide Reading Initiative, and volunteer as little a half an hour a week to help out. If your child reads well, work with a child who doesn't have someone like you for a parent. Give something to our schools besides an argument. Ignorance might be bliss, but these little readers will tell you, knowledge truly is power!

Stella Mandley

Hagerstown

Making a home of nursing homes

To the editor:

I needed to respond to the stereotypes about nursing homes promoted by Nancy Higgs in your March 8 article on the Outlook Pointe community. Nursing homes are much more than "a place where people go to die." They provide rehabilitation after acute illnesses, and either return people to the community or improve their ability to do everyday tasks. They are a long-term home for those who are unable to live independently due to chronic illness. A team of professionals work around the clock to provide wholesome food, a clean environment, stimulating activities, and tender loving nursing care. When death is near, the staff preserves the resident's comfort and dignity, and supports the family.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|