Praise for Frazier

Lisa Frazier certainly struck a raw nerve with her honest and insightful outlook [Prince George's Extra, Oct. 13, 1999] concerning justice in the Gilberto Hernandez case. Ms. Frazier has identified the wider issue--how to deal with the New America with all its opportunities and challenges. May we all share in those opportunities and help each other with those daunting challenges. If any book editor dares to print an update of "Profiles in Courage," Lisa Frazier's article deserves automatic consideration.

Father Brian Jordan, O.F.M.

Church and Friary of St. Francis of Assisi

National Shrine of St. Anthony

New York

[See related story on Page 6.]

Placement Questioned

Ms. Lisa Frazier should be commended for her Oct. 13 article, "New Power Brokers Grapple With 'New' Minority." It shouldn't have been buried on Page 2 of a section that was going to be distributed only in one county (Prince George's County) of our rather large country.

Had the story really been as she initially invited us to pretend it was (i.e., a black victim and seven white assailants, with a white prosecutor ignoring two black eyewitnesses to the fatal assault and refusing to bring felony murder charges against the white assailants), this story would have been front-page news not only in The Post but in other major newspapers as well.

Furthermore, had the story really been as Ms. Frazier initially invited us to pretend it was, and had a white principal attacker merely been convicted of involuntary manslaughter, by now the NAACP would be up in arms and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division and the FBI would each be conducting an inquiry into the Prince George's County state's attorney's handling of the case.

But the victim's name was Gilberto Hernandez. That doesn't sound African American, does it? Then who cares if his God-given right to life (as affirmed in our Declaration of Independence) was violated by his attackers, and who cares if his constitutional right to equal protection under the law was violated by the Prince George's County state's attorney? It certainly isn't front-page news, is it?

Well, Lisa Frazier seemed to care, and she should be commended for it. I care, too.

William J. Scanlon Jr.

Ellicott City

On the Money

You are right on the money [Michelle Singletary's Talkin' Money, Oct. 20, 1999].

It would be nice to have some upscale stores in Prince George's County, but I really don't care.

I have a 6-year-old and a 10-year-old, and I spend most of my time in Wal-Mart, Target, Sears and J.C. Penney. I usually order my clothes through catalogues and pick them up or have them delivered. I have been part of Prince George's County for 33 years. I am 36 now, and I am more concerned about the future of our children then some upscale stores in my back yard. We need to concern ourselves with the Prince George's County school system and stop begging upscale retail stores to come into our county.

Patricia A. Green

Bowie

The Prince George's Extra welcomes Letters to the Editor. Fax to 301-952-1397, e-mail to pgextra@washpost.com or write to Letters to the Editor, Prince George's Extra, The Washington Post, 14402 Old Mill Rd., Suite 201, Upper Marlboro, Md. 20772. Please include a daytime phone number and your address. Letters may be edited.

FORUM

Questioning the Superintendent's Agenda

We have some concerns with our new school superintendent's political agenda. She wants to increase residential property taxes for the purpose of education in Prince George's County. After only three months on the job, Dr. Iris T. Metts has determined the reason we have problems with our educational system is that there is not enough money to take care of all of the educational needs. Dr. Metts has introduced what some have coined the innovative Metts Method. According to the Metts Method, she promises Prince Georgians that when she produces a detailed report that will detail her expressed needs, we will trust her. She promises to increase Prince George's County school MSPAP scores by 4 percent in four years. Wasn't it just this past spring that state School Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick announced Maryland's MSPAP scores had increased 4 percent over last year? Then it would be safe to say that Prince George's County MSPAP scores, as low as they are, are represented in this marginal increase that our state educators boast about. Dr. Metts promises to assure Prince George's County schools' place among the top 10 high-scoring MSPAP school districts in four years. Would Dr. Metts settle for 10th place in the top 10? Nonetheless, Dr. Metts has concluded in less than four months that she cannot attain this goal without more money from us. Without more money from us, she will be unable to build new schools and make teachers happy. Without investing one year of personal dedicated effort, she requests that we pay more taxes because she cannot cut another educational program or service. If her numbers are correct, then of the more than 800,000 residents who live in Prince George's County, 25 percent have children that attend Prince George's County schools. What about the 45 percent of the residents who live on fixed incomes who are over age 55 who cannot afford to add another prescription to the long list of medicine they currently take largely because of their tax burdens? What about the 15 percent who represent the small family of four whose average income is less than $10,000 a year? Do they give up on the dream of becoming homeowners? What remains is the 15 percent working class who are barely able to pay property taxes because they live in homes valued between $150,000 and $300,000, whose personal property taxes are currently assessing at $2.40 on every $100.

Dr. Metts, we believe there are a few so-called education programs you could cut. More than a few, you could even eliminate that would ease the expressed financial burden that exists within our school system.

We have a few recommendations. If you taught explicit sequential phonics from kindergarten to third grade, you could cut the expensive cost to teach the federally required whole language program, and you could eliminate the entire reading recovery program for middle and high school students. If you eliminate the MSPAP and return to teaching students how to master academic subject matter, you could begin testing students on their mastery and in the process give parents an accurate measuring tool in which to measure their child's academic achievement.

You would no longer have to pay for certifying teachers in the Outcome-Based Education philosophy, indoctrinating administrators, nor would you have to pay to market the propaganda used to deliberately misinform the public.

If you eliminated MSPAP and its associated curricula and programs, you could send the outrageous number of school psychologists back to the classrooms to be teachers or force them to practice their professions outside the school.

By eliminating the Functional Behavioral Assessment designed to target behavior indicators that help to diagnose our children and place them on drugs, you could throw the suicide prevention program out the front door and save a bundle. If you cut these programs, others would render themselves useless, because your way of promoting self-esteem and confidence-building has assured an economic calamity for the future of this county. Why? Most of the new adults your schools have produced in the past generation feel very good about living at home with their parents and have no incentive or personal desire to become independent taxpayers. If you would perform a more in-depth research in the search for the root-cause of why economy is rapidly falling and why your schools are not producing the return on investment taxpayers currently provide you, you might find that teachers will be happier because you could pay them more for their academic qualifications.

However, you must spend more time internally. Taxpayers desire a better return on their investment than a mere 4 percent increase in MSPAP scores. Most taxpayers do not realize that MSPAP scores are used to determine our economic potential and personal property value. Taxpayers want to know how you intend to meet this goal. Asking taxpayers to foot the bill to pay for additional schools, paying teachers more and making our schools safe are administrative issues that you have inherited because of poor use of our tax dollars in the past. The declaration you have made says nothing of the academic problems that must first be addressed.

Zalee Harris

Temple Hills

Patricia Brady Dennis

Chesapeake Beach