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Letters to the Editor 9/10

September 08, 2000

Letters to the Editor 9/10



Don't get too excited about latest SAT scores



To the editor:

Before the Board of Education gets too excited about our students' SAT scores, they may want to consider what the test measures and what it doesn't.

The SAT I, the test profiled by the board this past week, is an assessment of reasoning ability. As such, it's more akin to an IQ test than to a course exam. Smart kids, regardless of classroom performance, tend to rack up high SAT I scores. Less gifted students, even those with great study habits, tend not to do as well.

There are, indeed, college entrance exams that do measure retention of knowledge. The ACT is curriculum-based. And the SAT II subject tests, which many of the more competitive colleges now require, assess a student's grasp of specific coursework.

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Washington County's above average SAT I performance these past few years may just mean that we've had a smarter crop of seniors taking the test. And that's nice. But the Board of Education should be a little cautious about relating high or low scores to the educational system when it's more a matter of God-given ability than classroom learning.

As important as this test may be in the college admissions process, it may not be an appropriate yardstick with which to judge how our local public schools are meeting the needs of the county's thousands of kids with a wide range of learning capabilities.

Mike McGough

Hagerstown




Jewish tradition and Senator Lieberman



In Bob Maginnis' column of Thursday, Aug. 24, he wondered if there was a Jewish requirement to pray in public (vs. Jesus' admonition for people to pray discreetly and not make a show of their piety). The answer is simple: no, Judaism does not advocate nor encourage making a public show of piety.

Maginnis' question came up in response to a reader query about vice presidential candidate Joe Liebermann. I would like to clarify that contrary to what was implied in that column, Joe Liebermann didn't lead any prayers at the Democratic convention, nor did he make any claims to be especially pious, nor did he lift up his religion as a reason to elect him to office.

If Herald-Mail readers have heard over and over again that Lieberman is an Orthodox Jew, I would point out that they are hearing that not from Joe Lieberman, but from commentators and pundits, who tend to all say the same thing (no matter what the topic) over and over again.

The only points I have heard from Lieberman about his religion are: 1. how great a country American has become, that an Orthodox Jew can (finally) be chosen to be a vice presidential candidate (this was simply not possible until fairly recently in American history), and 2. that he believes the American people are tolerant and reasonable enough to vote for or against him based on his qualifications for the position, and without regard to his religion.

Lieberman had a disarming, childlike wonder about him when he spoke at the Democratic convention, seeming to marvel at how far he has come. I think much of the Jewish community shares his wonder and delight.

Having such a long history of intolerance aimed at us, it really is a source of wonderment and joy that a person who is visibly Jewish (not trying to "pass") can become a serious candidate for Vice President of the U.S. As Lieberman said, "what a country!"

Rabbi Janice B. Garfunkel

Hagerstown




'Easy listening' lost in money shuffle



To the editor:

This past week, the Hagerstown area lost a treasure. John Staub, owner of one of our Hagerstown radio stations, sold the station's FM frequency, 104.7 (WWMD), to a radio station in Greencastle, PA, which I can only describe as WAYZ. Life will never be the same.

Now the Greencastle station owns both their old frequency, 101.5 fm, and 104.7 fm and is broadcasting country music on both of their frequencies. This, of course, is in addition to a number of other country stations in the market area.

There was more bad news that was fallout from this sale. On Sunday mornings, The Church of the Redeemer had an excellent broadcast called "Practical Living" which aired on WJEJ/WWMD at 8:30 am.

According to the person on duty at WJEJ, since the remaining am signal from the Hagerstown station (1240 WJEJ) doesn't reach Gaithersburg, the church cancelled its contract. (We later found the program, by chance, on WAYZ at 11.)

So, now we have lost the "easy listening" programming that was in stereo on the fm frequency and an excellent Sunday morning broadcast.

This is very frustrating because it is all about money and the heck with the people that were being served by the WWMD programming! Advertisers don't like "easy listening" stations since the people who are enjoying the music are not as attuned to the advertisements.

It is like on TV, when the volume is increased during the time the advertisements are aired (even though it is not supposed to be.)

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