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Letters to the Editor - July 25

July 25, 2011

One-hundred percent proficiency no laughing matter

To the editor:

This letter is not about Tim Rowland saying, "Schools are chasing results that are flatly unobtainable." Nor is it about the editorial pronouncing some children "incapable of traditional learning." It is about Wayne Ridenour, the public face of Washington County education, saying, "This notion that by setting the standard at 100 percent we're going to get it (AYP proficiency) was a fallacy. And the educators laughed at it. They really did."

Rowland is, by his own admission, Carnac the Magnificent on the subject of school progress. Editorials epitomize getting what you pay for. Far more disturbing is BOE member Ridenour conceding the race before the polls open. One-hundred percent proficiency in math and reading is not a fallacy, Mr. Ridenour, it is a goal. The means to that goal were set by Maryland's own teachers— who formulated the curriculum, created the test questions, set the passing scores and determined the elevating standards to reach 100 percent by 2014.

As BOE president, Mr. Ridenour, you set the agenda for BOE meetings that have refused to report educational progress results of 5,000 K-2 students. This has hidden the alarm bell of significantly lower proficiency scores for third-graders this past year even after eight years of educator effort. You seem to be implying that it has been acceptable to soak up taxpayer funds for these eight years, knowing you would never achieve the state standards.

Some learning-disabled, troubled or other special-education category students (about 14 percent of all students) are not subject to the same testing standards and results, or even the same expectations. What you are further implying, Mr. Ridenour, is that our local education system, peopled with bachelor, master and Ph.D. holders, is incapable of 100 percent proficiency for either 86 percent or 14 percent of its students. That might be less offensive than Tim Rowland's poor kids can't learn editorializing, already threadbare by the 1970s, but only marginally.

We are not laughing.

Marilyn and Tom Janus
Hagerstown


Why do so many dislike liberalism?

To the editor:

I have noticed that there is some sort of negative air around liberalism. Republicans often mock bills or proposals from Democrats as being too "liberal." Some people seem to hate the idea of liberalism. Others blatantly lie to make the word seem like something it's not, for the sole purpose of scaring people into thinking that supporting a liberal politician is the equivalent of committing some type of heinous crime.

But why do people dislike liberalism when it has given American society such things as The Clean Air and Water Act, food inspection laws, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Securities and Exchange Commission, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Children's Health Insurance Program, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, GI Bill, Pell Grants, eight-hour work days, five-day work weeks, minimum wage, overtime pay, labor laws, safety standards, Rural Electrification, Peace Corps, Small Business Administration, child labor laws, nutrition, housing and heating assistance, and other programs and reforms to help protect those who Jesus would have considered the least in society?

So since that is what liberalism has done, why is it treated like something awful? I assume people think that these reforms are good ideas, so why do they support the Republican Party, who fought every single one of these reforms when they were originally proposed? Although to be fair, a few moderate Republicans supported them and were called RINOs (Republicans in name only).

Whenever a Republican politician says that they want "deregulation" what they are really saying is that they want to eliminate or greatly weaken the reforms that I have stated above. Today's Republican party has moved to the extreme right and many are unwilling to negotiate with Democrats for the betterment of the nation. Until they are willing to compromise, we should stop electing them.

Cameron Schroy
Greencastle, Pa.


A journey to Mars would be a ridiculous pursuit

To the editor:

Recently, on a PBS television program, it was being discussed what we do now that the moon has been explored. The gentleman who was being interviewed was formerly an astronaut. He stated that the planet of Mars is next. The ability to manufacture a space vehicle large enough to accommodate all that is necessary to complete one journey to Mars is unimaginable.

It would take four months to arrive at Mars and two years to live on Mars, waiting for the planets to properly align for a return trip of four months. That will mean having a vehicle large enough to store the necessary supplies for a crew for almost three years. While on Mars, waste would have to be disposed of, mechanics would have to be perfect and many other problems that may occur are too many to mention.

We went to the moon and, yes, we have advanced in technology, but what of exploring the Moon is worthwhile? Some people say we went there because it was there. The billions and maybe trillions of dollars we would spend for such a trip is mind-boggling. With the infrastructure in the United States fast falling into decay, why would we ever think of that kind of expenditure?

We do not need a foreign country to invade and destroy us, we are doing it ourselves. It's time to wake up and put our house in order to provide the necessities to maintain a decent existence here on earth. I suggest that those who wish to explore Mars be on the first trip there and pay their way.

Tom Wilhelm
Williamsport

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