- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 15, 2000

Home-schooling column gets high grades from readers

Home-schooling column gets high grades from readers

It was so good to read Kenneth Smith's column on home schooling ("Home worked," Op-Ed, April 6). We finished home schooling our children about six years ago, having home-schooled all three in about eight years (different ones at different times). We all miss those days and remember them as delightful learning times, consisting of reading favorite books, exploring favorite science topics, excelling in hands-on math, as well as relating to lots of other home-schoolers.

My three children, now between ages 20 and 27, say it was a tremendous success and look forward to home schooling their own children. As for social adjustment, the oldest is married and a talented landscape architect; our middle son, 24, is currently traveling and working in various stops around the world; and our youngest, at 20, is getting ready to spend a year studying German in Tubingen, Germany.

I think our home-schooling experience was a positive one, and I am so thankful for it. I just want to gather all those worried parents out there and say, "Try home school … not out of fear, but for the joy of it. It's great."

Thanks for Mr. Smith's column. It's an area of great hope for our future.

MARSHA LINDER

Solon, Iowa

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Thanks to Kenneth Smith for writing the politically incorrect column showcasing positive results of home education. My son is now in his second year at Hillsdale College in Michigan after being home-schooled for 13 years.

His only regret is that he was not even allowed to try out for the high school basketball team on Kodiak Island. After moving here from Michigan, where we had our own home-schooled teams (like the young man in Mr. Smith's column), we were dependent upon the local high school for sports. But because of the small-mindedness of the educational establishment typical of small towns, he was not allowed to try out.

Mr. Smith's column was refreshing and filled with truth that we home-schooled families have known for years. Keep 'em coming.

KATHI BAYER

Kodiak Island, Alaska

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Thank you, Kenneth Smith, for your insightful and apolitical column about the successes of home schooling.

It is a growing trend for a variety of reasons, and it works especially well for children who don't fit into the "cookie-cutter" mold of a public school student. My son is one of those children.

Diagnosed with a series of rare disorders (hypomyelination, hypotonia, and a form of autism), I spent four years struggling with health-care providers, insurance companies and public education agencies to find answers that would help his development.

In the end, I've realized that one-on-one teaching is the best method for my son. I am a single mother, so it is not an easy task. It will likely get harder as he gets older. But the differences in his development are well worth it. We still struggle, but at least now we're making progress.

I look forward to new information as it becomes available about home-schooled students as they enter college and professional life.

BRIDGET CRONIN

St. Paul, Minn.

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Thank you for the great column on the home-schooling family of Kevin Johnson. We've been home schooling for 11 years. I have eight teaching credentials and had been a paid educator since 1970, but home schooling has taught me how to really teach.

VICKI SURGES

Duluth, Minn.

Rabbi clears up two points about interview

Your readers should know that the otherwise nice interview about my recent book, "Finding a Spiritual Home: How a New Generation of Jews Can Transform the American Synagogue" (Jossey-Bass), needs two clarifications ("Synagogues facing modern challenges," Culture, et cetera, April 10).

Clearly, my point about cultivating a sense of ownership among members of the congregation should have read "synagogue body" and not "church body."

Additionally, the point that did not come through clearly is that congregations need to transform themselves from institutions that primarily see themselves as the sponsor of an array of services into faith communities that, more importantly, put an emphasis on fostering personal relationships and support networks among their members.

RABBI SID SCHWARZ

Founder and president

Washington Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values

Washington

All HOV lanes lead to a dead end

Blake Robertson's April 8 letter "HOV lanes just make traffic jams more horrible" struck a nerve with me.

I'm a D.C. radio traffic reporter. Like Mr. Robertson, every rush hour I see miles of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) asphalt going to waste with nary a car in site, while the rest of us for whom car pooling is impractical sit in traffic in the regular lanes.

According to AAA, only one in four drivers in the Washington area use HOV lanes. For the rest of us, who have after-work errands, multiple jobs, no neighbors who share our commute, etc., HOV lanes simply don't work. As we crawl through 40 minutes or more of traffic, seeing those empty lanes that our tax dollars paid for simply rubs salt in our wounds.

Results, not intentions, are what count. If the purpose of HOV lanes was to increase car pooling and reduce traffic, the experiment has clearly failed.

It's high time we did away with this failed government program and looked at other options such as telecommuting and bridge construction to address highway gridlock.

NICOLE NICHOLS

Falls Church

Nicole Nichols is a traffic reporter for WBIG-FM (100.3).

Americans need to hear about the dangers of 'toxic noise'

As the director of the National Campaign for Hearing Health, I applaud your article addressing the dangers of toxic noise ("Test project for bridge sure to be deafening," Metropolitan, March 22).

"Toxic noise" is a phrase coined by my group to define noises that can destroy and irreversibly damage hearing.

When hair cells in the ear, the sensory organs that allow us to hear, are damaged by loud noises, they cannot be regenerated. Like chemicals found in tap water or air, exposure to loud, everyday noise is a form of environmental pollution that can permanently destroy hair cells.

The result is hearing damage and, in some cases, permanent hearing loss. Prolonged exposure to noise above the 85 decibel level, such as that of a pile driver being used in bridge construction, has been shown to cause hearing loss.

Neighbors should not "become accustomed" to the bridge construction noise. They do so at risk to their hearing. Symptoms of hearing loss from toxic noise include ringing or pain in the ears, difficulty hearing quiet sounds, a feeling of fullness in the ears and an awareness of transient hearing loss.

To prevent hearing damage from toxic hearing loss, wear ear plugs/ protection when exposed to loud noises (those construction workers operating the pile driver are wearing ear protection for a reason), plug ears with fingers when "ambushed" by unexpected loud noises and see a doctor on a regular basis for testing and monitoring.

Our organization offers free earplugs to help prevent the damage caused by exposure to toxic noise. For information on the danger toxic noise poses to your hearing health, visit www.hearinghealth.net.

ELIZABETH FOSTER

Director

National Campaign for Hearing Health

Washington

The National Campaign for Hearing Health is sponsored by the Deafness Research Foundation.

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