I am amazed that The Sun's editorial writers have sided with interim Baltimore City schools CEO Tisha Edwards in blaming school principals for the high rates of absenteeism at some schools ("AWOL from class," March 17).

Do your writers actually read the newspaper? They appear to have missed the stories about the high rates of homicide and other crimes. Some areas of the city are prospering while others are clearly dysfunctional.

The Baltimore City Health Department, together with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, have targeted neighborhoods in the city with morbidity and mortality rates equal to those of some Third World countries. They have too many liquor outlets and too few grocery stores. They also have high rates unemployment and financial distress.

Anyone who has ever worked in these areas understands that school absenteeism is a significant educational and social problem. If I wanted to hold someone accountable for this ongoing problem it would be the schools CEO and other administrators for failing to provide outreach workers at schools having high levels of absenteeism.

I am sure that the principals in those areas have enough on their plates just dealing with the problems of the children who actually show up for class. The blame game is especially unfortunate because it targets people who are in the trenches on a daily basis.

The schools, families, the business community and maybe the editorial staff of The Sun all need to step up to the plate and analyze the problem and then develop a strategy to fix it. I am certain that scapegoating the principals won't work.

Edward McCarey McDonnell, Baltimore,

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