- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 7, 2007

What are ‘middle schools?’

The article “Are middle schools necessary?” (Commentary, Saturday) is flawed in that it doesn’t define what a middle school is, so most of what is mentioned is worthless.

As a student in Hartford and Rocky Hill, Conn., my first school was a six-year elementary, then another six-year elementary, followed by a three-year junior high school. We moved to Massachusetts in my eighth-grade year and to a two-year junior high school and then on to a four-year high school.

As a teacher, I worked in three school systems in Maryland that taught grades K-12. All the systems I learned and taught in had junior high schools, which comprised grades 7-8 or 7-9. Middle schools were basically unknown to me. My last 10 years in education, I was a vice principal in four different junior high schools, grades 7-9. During those last few years, I noticed that in other parts of Maryland there were middle schools, but they were teaching grades 5-8.

The question not answered in this piece is what is a middle school? Also, are all the middle schools self-contained classrooms or departmentalized? Or both?

Self-contained classrooms have great benefit, but students grow faster socially in a departmentalized situation.

In my experience, the “old” junior high school, 7-9, seemed to advance students faster than the other models, but the same issues are prevalent in any “middle” school, such as student harassment of others and other negative attitudes.

BILL MASON

Upper Marlboro

Don’t blame the pope

The article, “Pontiff-to-be helped rescue thousands of Hungary’s Jews,” (Page 1, Tuesday) reinforces the charge that Pope Pius XII “failed to do all he could to prevent the systematic massacre of millions of Jews.”

Sometimes the mists of history obscure realities that are essential to understanding and judging actions. Can’t the same charge be leveled at Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and any other Western leader? Wasn’t the Vatican an utterly defenseless island in the Axis sea? Wasn’t there precedent for terrible reprisals against Jews and others whenever the Vatican spoke or acted in opposition to Axis policies? Before reaching a conclusion about Pope Pius XII these questions should be considered.

THOMAS M. DORAN

Plymouth, Mich.

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Dina Porat of Tel Aviv University distorts the Vatican’s record during the Holocaust.

Pope Pius XII’s concern with the fate of Hungary’s Jewish population actually began as soon as Germany invaded Hungary in March 1944. Days later, the Vatican telegraphed Archbishop Angelo Rotta, the papal nuncio (or diplomatic representative) in Hungary, and instructed him to do what he could to help the Jews. The Vatican Secretary of State Luigi Cardinal Maglione repeated these instructions to Archbishop Rotta on April 5.

The Raoul Wallenberg Foundation credits Archbishop Rotta with issuing “more than 15,000 safe conduct certificates to Jews who were protected by the Vatican neutrality. Rotta also issued hundreds of safe conducts and baptismal certificates to Jews in labor camps, at deportation centers and on the death marches. He set up and personally protected numerous safe houses throughout Budapest.”

Until his death in August 1944, Cardinal Maglione, the first person to see the pope every morning, frequently instructed the Vatican’s diplomatic representatives in many Nazi-occupied and Axis countries to intervene on behalf of Jews. After Cardinal Maglione’s death, his deputy, Monsignor Domenico Tardini, continued to send out similar instructions until the end of the war.

In addition to Archbishop Rotta and Monsignor Angelo Roncalli — the future Pope John XXIII — many other Vatican diplomats, acting on the pope’s orders and on their own initiative, often assisted Jews and other victims. The diplomats include Archbishop Valerio Valeri (France), Abbot Giuseppe Marcone (Croatia), Archbishop Andrea Cassulo (Romania),Archbishop Francesco Borgongini-Duca (Italy), Monsignor Giuseppe Burzio (Slovakia), Archbishop Filippo Bernardini (Switzerland), Archbishop Gaeto Cicognani (Spain), and Monsignor Giuseppe Mazzolli (Bulgaria).

DIMITRI CAVALLI

Bronx, N.Y.

Pakistan wants a stable Afghanistan

This refers to Arnaud de Borchgrave’s “Three crises pileup” alleging that President Musharraf ordered “covert assistance to Taliban” to fight against NATO and U.S. troops. On the contrary, Mr. Musharraf’s geopolitical assessment led him to direct the Pakistan security agencies to wage war against Taliban and al Qaeda, as these evils pose grave danger to the peace and security of Pakistan and Afghanistan and consequently to the world at large. Pakistan’s leadership understands it beyond any shadow of doubt. Therefore, Pakistan is fighting against the Taliban in the country’s national interests. How come Pakistan can “repeatedly choose” the Taliban as Afghan rulers?

I would like to draw attention to the U.N. Security Council report released on September 24 that clearly states that insurgency in Afghanistan is indigenous and “its current center of gravity falls in and around the provinces of Afghanistan — Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgen and increasingly, Farah.”

Pakistan likes to see Afghanistan as a strong, prosperous and vibrant country. Peace in Afghanistan will be catalyst to security of Pakistan’s western borders. It will be a prelude to opening up of vast opportunities to promote our commercial and cultural ties with the Central Asian Republics. It will surely strengthen Pakistan hands to effectively address militant and extremist tendencies in the society.

Pakistan’s people and its leadership know very well that the Taliban are a real danger to their country. It is in pursuance of that realization that Pakistan has decided to fence and selectively mine the border to eliminate the slightest chances of terrorists’ infiltration. It reflects country’s firm resolve in counterterrorism.

Pakistan is eager to strengthen relations between the two countries. On Jan. 4, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Mr. Shaukat Aziz, visited Afghanistan at the invitation of the Afghan president. They discussed a whole range of issues between the two countries. It may be mentioned that Pakistan helped immensely in holding Afghan parliamentary elections and the presidential elections. It means Pakistan wants the present Afghan government to take firm control of the state.

M. AKRAM SHAHEEDI

Press Minister

Embassy of Pakistan

Washington

O’Malley’s shaky transition

The article “O’Malley takes his time with agenda specifics” is reassuring (Metropolitan, Saturday). We’ve been concerned about Mr. O’Malley because ever since his victory, he’s been looking like a deer in the headlights.Our Governor-elect’s stunned expression hascaused us some consternation: Is he as shocked as we are that he won? Does he really want the job?

CAROL AND CARL ANDERSEN

Baltimore

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