Montessori education honors the importance of early learning

Regarding the May 4 article, "Californians weigh merits of preschool for all": More than 100 years ago Maria Montessori researched and proved how valuable early education is. I had the wonderful experience of teaching 3- to 6-year-olds in a special Montessori school in the Dayton, Ohio school district. The school was in the inner city. In my class I had 24 children (eight from each age level). I only took in new 3-year-olds. These children stayed with me for three years. It was an all-day program with free breakfast and lunch.

When my children left my room for first grade, they were reading chapter books and doing advanced math as well as research projects. They loved to work and had a foundation laid for future learning and study. We had time to work at a concrete level, using the wonderful Montessori materials.

Too many school districts are pushing children into worksheets and paperwork before they understand the concept being taught. They need to be given the time to explore on their own. This is when they discover the joy of learning. This is the importance of starting education early.
Joan Turner

Saving Jewish families on Rhodes

Helen Schary Motro's April 25 Opinion piece, "Remembering a Jewish Greek tragedy," reminds me of the heroic efforts of Selahattin ülkümen, who was Turkey's consul-general on the Greek island of Rhodes in 1944. When the occupying Nazi forces ordered the deportation of all Jews, Mr. ülkümen bravely stood up against the deportations by protesting to the German officer in charge, and he later issued official Turkish exit visas to Jewish families. ülkümen's actions ended up saving some 40 Jewish families from almost certain death. Soon after, the Turkish Consulate building was bombed, and ülkümen's wife died of related injuries - one week after the birth of their son.

In 1989, Israel's Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority) awarded ülkümen the title of "Righteous Among the Nations." In 2001, ülkümen was honored with the Supreme Service Medal, Turkey's highest honor.
William Edward Alli
Bowie, Md.

A secular government protects religion

Regarding the May 4 article, "Bible's profile at the Capitol touches a chord": I'm an atheist, but I fully support the right of any Christian to read the Bible from the steps of our nation's Capitol. However, there is one small point I would like to make: The government that prefers religion over nonreligion can prefer one religion or sect over another. Some perceive a secular government as necessarily hostile to religion. I disagree: A secular government is least hostile to religious liberty than any government claiming divine authority or claiming to be founded under the shadow of any particular religious faith.

I have no doubt that most (though certainly not all) of our nation's founders were religious, and many were Christian. But it is too far a jump to then claim that they established a Christian nation or government.

On the contrary, these men established the first wholly secular government in history. Their experiment has been tremendously successful for the religious enterprise, allowing the US to become one of the most religious countries in the western world.

I wish my religious neighbors no ill will. I don't seek to silence them in public discourse or at the ballot box. I don't distrust them or teach my children to hate them. I only wish that they were all as courteous to me.
Gregory R. Reed
Gobles, Mich.

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