I am dismayed by the suggestion of some educators and public officials that adding 20 days to Maryland's school year would make a significant difference in students' educations {"Maryland Proposes the Nation's Longest School Year," Metro, Sept. 26}. State Board of Education member Donald P. Huchinson says the extra days would help students compete with the students of other Western nations. But as a high school student, I know that trying to remedy inadequacies in the educational system by tacking on extra school days is a foolhardy and futile gesture.

Mr. Huchinson also has the wrong attitude concerning our education as compared with that of students in other Western nations. Education is not a competitive sport, and the purpose of education is just that, to educate, not to produce children who are taught to fear that no matter what they do, others are going to have knowledge they have yet to gain.

Mr. Huchinson also said that we need extra school days to catch up with the so-called "knowledge explosion," but it's the quality, not the quantity, of education that needs to be improved. And before we start tampering with a semi-satisfactory educational system, we need to determine how to improve the school days we already have, not to make excuses for the educational efficiency we don't have.


I can't understand why the Maryland State Board of Education would spend $53.3 million to extend the school year by 20 days instead of spending the money to reduce class size. Reducing class size would improve the school experience for children while also improving test scores. Smaller, more intimate classes might actually make learning enjoyable. Perhaps this proposal is part of the new Puritan mentality. You must suffer to be a good person. Students and teachers must sweat through 20 hot summer days.

When I was a child in the Baltimore City Public School system, all the ills of the school system were blamed on large class size. I am part of the baby boom, and because there were so many of us, we had to go to school in shifts. Everyone dreamed of the time when class sizes would be smaller and the student/teacher ratio would improve. Imagine my surprise when I grew up and school systems began closing schools that were ''under-populated'' instead of taking advantage of the situation by providing smaller classes.

A teacher can provide much more personal attention to 15 students than to 30. It's easier to catch the daydreamer, the cheater, the underachiever, the class-cutter if a class is small. Students in small classes actually get to know their teachers and are more likely to participate.

I have always been a fierce advocate of the public school system. But if my son has to give up his summer vacation and suffer through large classes I will probably consider private schools.