I read with interest and concern the Dec. 18 article (“Education program has ties to drilling industry”) about the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) recently presented to fourth- through sixth-graders at the O.H. Somers Elementary School in Mogadore.

As a scientist and teacher for over 40 years, I understand clearly the power of education and the value of research. Both can be used in many ways, but when a major industry ties in with Radio Disney to advertise their product under the guise of teaching chemistry and geology, it can only be described as a not-so-subtle effort to persuade these youngsters, at an early age, that the oil and gas industry is their friend and good neighbor.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have been lecturing about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) here in Northeast Ohio for the past three years and have studied the process extensively. There is a vast body of (scientific) evidence that leads to only one conclusion: that as presently practiced, fracking is a highly destructive process to both the environment and to those affected by it.

Indeed, as Rhonda Reda, the program’s executive director, stated, “the word fracking never popped up” in the presentation. How clever. Everyone, and most certainly the children playing this “game,” clearly understands that the ping pong balls being put into the “pipeline” represent gas and oil, and that the gas and oil get to the pipeline by a process called fracking.

The word “fracking” never needs to be mentioned. The “educational” process used here was correctly defined at the Youngstown assembly as “being about brainwashing our children.” Our schools are not meant to serve as advertising media for the gas and oil corporations.

Theodore Voneida

Kent

Path to a title, ?through the SEC

Over two decades when the late Tom Mickle, the Atlantic Coast Conference associate commissioner, first outlined the Bowl Championship Series concept on a cocktail napkin, he and ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan knew some conferences might balk. With the inclusion of computer ranking in the BCS formula, it meant strength of schedule would finally matter. The Big Ten and Pac 10 declined to participate for several years.

I was working for Host Communications in Chicago, and we represented what is now the BCS. I sold the first corporate sponsorship to General Motors. I made a point to keep a copy of the letter from Leo Burnett Advertising confirming GM’s $2 million sponsorship. GM has been a BCS sponsor ever since.

Prior to the BCS, very rarely did No. 1 and No. 2 meet in a bowl game. When I worked in media relations for the University of Georgia Athletic Department, No. 1 Georgia played No. 2 Penn State in 1982. But usually the champion was determined by subjective polls with regional biases that ignored strength of schedule.

I was part of the Clemson athletic department for the 1978 Ohio State vs. Clemson Gator Bowl game. It was a tragic night because of what happened with Coach Woody Hayes, but I came away extremely impressed with OSU and its fans.

From 1990 to 1995, I also represented the Big Ten Conference when I lived in Chicago. It was a tremendous experience. As a result, I cringe every time I hear that Ohio State has just one national title in the last 40 years and was the only Big Ten school to ever play in a BCS title game.

As Beacon Journal sports writer Marla Ridenour pointed out (“Title without SEC fitting,” Dec. 4), the Southeastern Conference has tortured Ohio State in the BCS era. When one has been tortured for decades, one wants to find an appropriate forum to face the long-time tormentor in front of witnesses to reach closure and move forward to a future of limitless possibilities.

Ohio State must defeat an SEC team in a title game to exorcise the demon. The Buckeyes cannot achieve closure by simply celebrating the demise of the BCS format that merely created the circumstances. The unfortunate reality is that not once did the BCS format pre-determine the SEC’s victories on the football field. Fortunately, under Coach Urban Myer, I believe OSU will also find closure.

David M. McGrew

Akron

Early intervention ?to boost reading

Regarding the Dec. 25 letter “A remedy for reading difficulties”: I fully agree with Timothy Rasinski that mastery of the foundational skills of phonics, fluency and comprehension is crucial to reading proficiency.

I am a first-grade teacher in a parochial school. My fellow primary teachers and I have seen many children struggle with reading.

Another key element is parental involvement. Children need to read aloud and be read to every day. Our first-graders take a book home every night. First-graders need homework. Parents must make the time for them to do this homework.

Early identification of learning difficulties is also key. Some educators do not believe in evaluation until third grade. By then, it could be too late. Third-graders should be reading to learn, not learning to read. Teachers’ hands are often tied by a process of interventions that must be followed prior to a formal evaluation. Nine weeks can be an eternity for a struggling first-grader. Very often, the interventions must be repeated.

A combination of strong instructional practices, parental involvement and the cooperation of district psychologists and evaluators is necessary. Please do not let early intervention become a “let’s wait and see” policy.

Rosemary A. Cardina

Kent