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Letters to the Editor - July 20

July 20, 2011

School system hits some bumps in the road



To the editor:

After 10 years of an apparent smooth ride by Washington County Schools, they have now hit some bumps in the road. When nearly one-third of your schools are not meeting performance  standards, some need for concern would seem to be warranted.

Of course most citizens with any knowledge of the performance standards recognize the standards are raised every year.

The expectations that all students will be reading on grade level at some year in the future at first glance is admirable. However, as one who has volunteered in the school system this seems  a bit unrealistic. Students with learning disabilities just have a really difficult time. I think it is safe to say almost every school has students with ADHD and other learning difficulties

I applaud Superintendent Wilcox and his staff and classroom teachers for developing strategies to  improve the proficiencies of our students. Unless you have seen a student struggle it is somewhat difficult to visualize the level of the problem.


Meredith Fouche
Sharpsburg




Americans are mostly well-off in a relative way



To the editor:

There is no denying the statistic that most of the wealth in this county is concentrated in the hands of a few. There are those who have million-dollar homes and those who rent, those who can go out to eat and those who eat leftovers, and there are those who can retire in their 50s, many being state workers, and those who have to work 40 hour weeks till they are 60.  

Yes, this is the way things are, but it is also the way things have been for a long time. Throughout every age, there have been those with more than others.

Thinking about wealth in terms of its relative distribution is a nearly completely useless pursuit. It is like a bakery telling you that you are getting a 1/16 slice of a pie and not showing you the total pie or telling you how big that slice is in ounces or inches.

It is more useful thinking about the distribution of wealth in absolute terms — looking at how much one’s slice of the pie gives one in terms of goods and services. When one looks at this, one sees that even though most people have a relatively small slice of the total pie, total wealth, that slice still gives them a comfortable standard of living, $50,000 being the U.S. median household income in 2010.

Moreover, it is important to think about how far we have come over the last mere 250 years. We should thank God and capitalism that we are not saying, there are those who have homes and those who live in shacks, there are those who have a steady supply of food and those who are subject to famine, there are those who are masters and there are slaves, for this was the state of things in every part of the world a short time ago.

    
Andrew Joliet
Hagerstown




Allow students their critical thinking



To the editor:

Allan Powell’s column (July 15) extols Judge Jones’ “Dover” decision as saving real science from the clutches of creationism “wearing a tuxedo of Intelligent Design.” He attempts to force science into his Procrustean bed of Darwinian materialistic philosophy.

Chop a fact here, stretch another there. Whatever it takes, prevent student access to observation and viewpoints within science contrary to his philosophy. Let’s look at the conditions Texas school boards “impose” on text book publishers. (Excerpt from Texas Essential Knowledge Skills document.) Texts require students to, “analyze, evaluate and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence ... so as to encourage critical thinking by the student.” In regards to Darwinian evolution students would, “analyze and evaluate such facets as, common ancestry, mutation, natural selection, and the chemical origin of life.” This is evil?

To Darwinists, evolution is exempt from competition in the marketplace of ideas. She’s the mistress of all biology — “she who must be obeyed.”

Text book author Kenneth Miller will not accede to Texas requirements. Instead he promises to show, “the cell’s complexity is in fact explained by evolution,” and to, “explain the robustness of evolutionary theory.” Why are his facts not in his previous texts? The literature brims with revisions and doubts about present icons of evolution.

Consider renewed interest in sexual vs. asexual reproduction. The author of “The Masterpiece of Nature: The Evolution of Genetics and Sexuality,” writes, “Sex is the queen of problems in evolutionary biology.” How would highly efficient asexual reproduction, by chance mutations, morph into complicated sexual reproduction? After 150 years this basic problem has no solution.

Professor Powell knows, surely, that the Scopes trial was a setup to attract media, get a guilty verdict, and then appeal. Is Powell saying he would go to court to force schools to use a book placing the “black race” lower on the evolutionary scale?

 
Richard Giovanoni
Hagerstown

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