Parents' Responsibility for Education
There is no doubt about it, the city school system is in bad shape. But it angers me to read a quote from the mother of a first-grade student, "She doesn't know her colors, she doesn't know her alphabet. . ."
Aren't these the things a child should learn from mother and family, even Big Bird?
The school system will never succeed as long as parents believe that learning and discipline begin with school.
Three cheers for parents like the Wilsons, who take an active part in their son's learning activities.
The Sun has printed several articles about incompetent teachers in the Baltimore City public schools. However, there are incompetent principals who seem to escape media attention.
It seems that principals would rather focus on teachers than on themselves, because we teachers are the most vulnerable. Many principals seem to forget that they were once teachers.
This year, I was placed in a situation of teaching under an incompetent administrator at Carver Vocational-Technical Senior High School. I was the victim of an administrator who could not make decisions, who constantly apologized for lack of courage and who constantly lied to protect his ineffectiveness.
I saw this man yell and use profanity at students to make them goto class. He treated his friends on staff better than other teachers who were merely associates. He often caused conflicts between teachers and other administrators. He even defended an assistant principal when he knew that she was clearly wrong. Moreover, teachers were not allowed to have input in how the money was to be spent that they helped raise for the school.
I saw teacher morale drop, including my own. I personally felt a sense of hopelessness. Moreover, the students were victimized by the situation, because they saw the frustrations of the teachers who taught them. Many of the students actually felt sympathy for us, which was often expressed.
I want the public to see that there is a flip side of the coin concerning the problems in the Baltimore City public schools. If we teachers are to do our jobs well, then we need competent administrators who will assist us in our endeavors.
Jacqueline C. Butler
Now that The Sun has painted an astronomically negative image of the city schools, why not paint a seven-day picture again of the positive images of the Baltimore City public schools?
You have taken isolated incidents and blown them up to make it seem like this is how city schools are. All schools, public, private and parochial, have bad and good sides. This includes county schools.
In my 30 years as an outstanding public school teacher in Baltimore City, I never had to have pupils share books. There were more than enough books. I have never encountered many of the incidents you have printed.
I have been retired for five years and I'm sure you found the worst examples to lower our city school's image. Come on, Sun. There is a great positive side, too.
Lola J. Massey
Since I've been critical in the past of Sun coverage of local events, it's only fair to commend you on the school series. Now that's the kind of investigative reporting I expect from The Sun.
Art and History
It is laudable to designate, respect and enjoy federal historic districts, and I am pleased to reside in Baltimore's historic Federal Hill neighborhood.
I do think, however, that some few persons have been overly zealous in their preservationism, by condemning the presentation of contemporary Baltimorean artworks on private property.
Evidently the city code provides that antennae, air conditioners, satellite dishes and roof decks (modern comforts all) are to be kept out of sight in an effort to preserve the flavor of 1875.
Yet as I stroll down Montgomery Street I note that it is flanked by parked automobiles, and gardens filled with many modern exotic flowers and shrubs. Here and there a window boasts a 50-starred banner; yet I hear no complaints about these anachronisms.
It is the artworks themselves? Do they perhaps block the view of the "historically correct" Inner Harbor for a few households?
A stroller notes many new decks and concrete reinforcement from behind, but I never noticed the Baltimore sculptures until they were pointed out to me, and when I, in turn, point them out, my companions so far have enjoyed the surprise. They are certainly not obtrusive and are a celebration of place which brings me joy.
We should feel pride to live with the art and legacy of our city. History and art belong in our daily lives and shouldn't be achieved in museums if they are to help maintain our sense of community.
This is one area in which peoples from other cultures outshine us. Before moving to Federal Hill, I wrote architectural criticism for a Milanese publication and took great pleasure in discovering the artistic secrets of the inner cortile of pallazzi.
In the Brera, Milan's historic center, I was as likely to discover a Tiepolo ceiling as a sculpture by Manzu; all art there is loved and lived. There is preference for local sons, and we should welcome the homage to these highlights of Baltimore's art and architecture. There is sterility only in the rejection of art for arbitrary reasons, or perhaps is it due to envy?
L. Anathea Brooks
No Big Thing
I hope there isn't a giant overreaction to the incidences of under-age purchases of liquor at Baltimore City establishments (The Sun, June 11).
I'm surprised the young tester didn't get served at more than 12 of the 30 places tested. I think enforcement of the highly questionable 21-year-old drinking age should be on a complaint basis, like many other laws.
We shouldn't be listening to unsolicited advice from people from Illinois until they are paying the high taxes of this city. The police have their hands full fighting real crime that is running rampant in certain parts of the city.
Also, you have to consider the perspective of the clerk working at the liquor store. I worked in two city liquor stores and had to be careful who I refused to serve, knowing I had to walk out of there at midnight.
G. Ted Yurek
The Sun carried an article June 8 by reporter Angela Gambill concerning the Native American protesters at the Columbus exhibit.
It would be refreshing if reporters assigned to this type of event would include information on why a group feels the need to demonstrate instead of quotes from bystanders who often do not have enough information to comment accurately.
Ms. Gambill quoted a woman identified as a graduate history student at Georgetown University who felt that Native Americans had no right to be there and that Columbus should not be blamed for the values of society 500 years ago.
Tell the African American population that slave owners in the South should not be blamed for their atrocities, since society's values have changed, and I am sure you will get more than a slight protest from the NAACP.
Ms. Gambill makes it sound like this woman knows what she is talking about. She obviously does not.
The article included comments like, "Slavery was part of the culture. In addition, the [American] Indians killed each other and stole each other's land, but nobody wants to discuss that." These are full of inaccuracies and half-truths, and unfortunately most people reading something in the newspaper read it as the truth.
Native Americans did not steal each other's land. History shows that the only ones stealing land were the whites.
Early Native Americans believed that they did not own the land and therefore the land was not theirs to sell or steal. This basic belief was the main reason explorers like Columbus were met with open arms, and consequently the reason the Native American population continues to suffer.
What was being celebrated at the Inner Harbor that weekend? Not the discovery of America 500 years ago, but the introduction of Western civilization and its legacy of greed. Columbus came to this continent because of greed and the Native American has suffered the consequences ever since.
What most of the people who visited the exhibition were not taught in school is all too real to most native Americans every day of their lives. The real truth is that Christopher Columbus and the explorers did not give a damn whether cultures that had existed for thousands of years before they were "discovered" were virtually wiped out.
The only thing these explorers were concerned about was how much gold and land they could get. They did not want to share; they wanted it all.
We should be teaching children and adults in this country about why Native Americans are so upset over the Columbus fiasco, not theatrically glorifying a human tragedy.
Colette Little Fawn Becker
In response to one of your correspondents' condemnation of the accuracy of current astrological arithmetic, I have in my possession a copy of "The American Ephemeris for the 20th Century 1900-2000," which can be used by astrologers to calculate horoscopes. On the inside cover it states:
"The planetary positions in this ephemeris differ slightly from the earlier editions because of more accurate ones available from JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratories). Since 1984 the JPL data has been used in the Astronomical Almanac -- the joint publication of the U.S. Naval Observatory and the Royal Greenwich Observatory."
According to this book, the JPL figures put the sun at 0 degrees 38 minutes, 43 seconds Aries, on Saturday, March 21, 1992 and on Monday, April 20, 1992 the sun was 0 degrees 9 minutes, 53 seconds Taurus.
Why do these figures differ from those given by the person whose letter you published? Are we to believe that the JPL hi-tech computers are all wrong in their calculations and if so, shouldn't someone tell the laboratory -- immediately?
I was always under the impression that through the centuries astrological charts -- hokum or not -- were based on planetary positions updated from the time of Ptolemy -- or was it 2,000-year-old Mel Brooks? I forget.
Blame it on the JPL's current position of Mercury opposite Pluto retrograde.
J. B. Wright