Big Learning Curve

Your article on the reaction of Prince William County's educators to the latest scores from the state Standards of Learning exams [Prince William Extra, Aug. 1] tells only part of the story about the woeful performance of county students in history. The full story is told in graphic detail in the pass rates that accompany your article.

School Superintendent Edward L. Kelly admits that history is a problem in fifth-grade, where there is an average pass rate of 35 percent, compared with the state average of 46 percent. But the story is much worse than that.

Our students do not start out history-challenged. In the third grade, they have a 60 percent pass rate, which tracks with the state average. When they get to the fifth grade, they drop off substantially in history, while maintaining almost the same third-grade level of pass rates for other subjects, except mathematics.

Whatever happens after the third grade to turn our children away from the study of history appears to stay with them in the educational system through high school. At that level, the pass rates for U.S. history fell to 31 percent. Those for world history are 41 percent. In contrast, pass rates for mathematics increase by an average of 11 percent.

To correct this situation, county educators must first educate their students to pass the state learning standards in history. A quick fix, however, is not the answer. Rather, a strong curriculum change is needed to ensure a continuing flow of politically liberate citizens in the future. That should be the primary goal.

RICHARD SECREST

Montclair

Not Broken, Don't Fix

The article written by Libby Coppeland, titled "Piedmont Expansion Promises Upscale Housing," is incomplete and misleading [Prince William Extra, Aug. 1]. It fails to point out the present supervisor does not truly support and voted against the current Comprehensive Plan that promotes these type of developments. The current supervisor openly claims the Comprehensive Plan is "broken" and intends to "fix" it.

The facts are that Gainesville District citizens are opposed to the sprawl that the current supervisor, Edgar S. Wilbourn III, supports. The citizens worked very hard to help craft and promote the new Comprehensive Plan and the "Rural Crescent" preservation it promotes.

The citizens' voices were heard in the recent Republican primary by voting in a majority for two candidates who support the Comprehensive Plan. The current supervisor failed to win a majority in his own party. He won the primary (only by 11 votes). But "the cause" to promote the Comprehensive Plan was the real winner and will win in the upcoming November election.

The present supervisor, Mr. Wilbourn, does not support the Comprehensive Plan, and it is wrong for you to lead your readers to believe anything else.

GREG GORHAM

Annandale

A Hard-working, Honest Foe

[Some racetrack supporters have] implied that only supporters of proposed racetracks are hard-working, honest people.

I opposed the Haymarket gambling parlor with a racetrack, yet I often work more than 10 hours a day to support my horses and I have no criminal record. Can all the major promoters say this?

[Supporters are] elated about the prospect of live racing in this county to better opportunities for Virginia horse breeders. Where is the breeders' support for Virginia's Colonial Downs? Why is this track in near financial ruin? How can a track open only a few hours a week save the horse industry?

Yes, gambling is a major concern. We built homes and established our lives here because it is rural residential. We have fought for years telling the county and state we like it this way. We like the ability to ride our horses, to jog and to ride bikes with our children along our country roads without fear of attack or harassment.

We are not talking about going to the local market and buying a lottery ticket with your milk and bread. We are talking about people from Virginia, the District and elsewhere betting and drinking for 11 hours a day, seven days a week in our neighborhood. Do you want your kids and loved ones on the roads with these people at night?

Statistics have proven crime increases dramatically around gambling establishments. Did you know 18-year-old high schools students could enter and gamble? Don't our kids have enough problems?

Our Fire Department does not have the equipment to protect this project, and the additional traffic will severely inhibit their response time to fires and emergencies within surrounding communities because of the absence of alternate roads.

Equestrian activities abound here, promoting free enterprise without bringing the degradation a gambling parlor brings.

[Supporters are] wrong describing us as disgruntled NIMBYs. I am not disgruntled. I am outraged that here we go again having to fight for the safety and well-being of our children, our homes and now even our own lives.

LINDA S. JAROCH

Haymarket

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