It is said that you are never a hero at home. But it was still surprising to read your June 10 editorial concerning the need for "inventive" drop-out prevention initiatives.
Maryland has had one of the most inventive and successful models in the country in place for more than four years. Known as Maryland's Tomorrow statewide (FUTURES in Baltimore City), the program identifies youngsters in the 8th grade who are at least a year behind in reading or math or have failed a year or exhibit other characteristics that put them at risk of dropping out.
With a sustained combination of advocacy, remediation, leadership development, business, parent and community involvement, thousands of young lives that appeared hopeless are turning around.
Now operating in 80 schools throughout the state, enrolling almost 8,000 teenagers, Maryland's Tomorrow is not a quick fix. A commitment is made to stay with these kids on a year-round basis (that means summer jobs and summer schooling) for four years -- and the important fifth year -- the critical transition year from school to work or school to higher education.
Independent evaluation of the program by Pelavin Associated in Washington has consistently shown Maryland's Tomorrow students to have a higher pass rate on the Maryland functional tests, a higher promotion rate and a lower drop out rate than comparable students in the same schools.
The evaluators claim that Maryland's Tomorrow has made schools a "less hostile environment" for students. Our next goal is to expand this inventive and successful program to the middle schools.
Marion W. Pines
The writer directs the Maryland's Tomorrow project.
Beware of Bogus Private Clubs
This is written in response to Gil Crandall's letter to the editor about the Elks Club controversy in Annapolis. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland defends the rights of citizens to associate in truly private organizations.
Many so-called private clubs are not small, intimate and highly selective organizations. They are powerful institutions which boast memberships in the thousands, have substantial assets and revenue, benefit from federal and state tax exemptions and provide their members with an exclusive forum for political and business decision-making. Many serve meals and beverages and are, in effect, public accommodations, which under state law cannot discriminate.
In 1990, the City of Annapolis passed a local ordinance that denies liquor licenses to private establishments with discriminatory membership policies. Several private clubs in Annapolis which in the past discriminated on the basis of race, sex, religion or national origin, changed their membership policies to conform.
The Annapolis Elks Club, which maintains a national membership policy of discrimination against women, did not. In fact, the Elks recently won a suit to block the Annapolis anti-discrimination ordinance.
However, the decision is being appealed by the ACLU on behalf of the Coalition for Open Doors, the Maryland Commission on Human Relations and two private citizens of Annapolis.
The constitutionality of the Annapolis ordinance is beyond question. Landmark Supreme Court decisions in the past decade make clear that local governments can, under certain circumstances, regulate the discriminatory practices of private clubs. Only clubs that are small, selective, family-like associations truly deserve the label "private" and the constitutional protection that goes with it.
Whatever the outcome of the legal dispute over the Annapolis anti-discrimination ordinance, the issue of discriminatory private clubs will not go away soon or quietly.
This is because those advocating non-discrimination are not a minority of "far-out liberals" or "zealots," as Mr. Crandall alleges. Rather, they encompass a majority of Maryland citizens who will continue to work toward a society where true equality of opportunity exists.
The writer is legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Maryland.
Frustrated, annoyed and powerless. That's how I felt after my recent trip to Oriole Park at Camden Yards via light rail.
My story: I was lucky enough to have a ticket to a weeknight Orioles game. The most logical transportation option was light rail. I arrived at the Mount Washington station an hour prior to game time to find the parking lot completely filled.
I drove through the neighborhood and found that any parking spot close enough had a meter. O.K. No problem. But the meter would only take enough for two hours and the meter is in effect till 10 p.m.
Do I park several blocks away with the prospect of walking there alone following the game? Do I return home and leave my Oriole Park seat unoccupied?
Or do I feed the meter as much as it will accept and hope that the police patrol understands that the majority of cars parked near light rail this evening are off cheering the O's?
I chose the third option. I went to the game. I got a parking ticket for $17. This story does not have a happy ending.
Ruth H. Fader
An article on page 1 of The Sun June 12 describes the appalling conditions at Diggs-Johnson Middle School. An article on page 5C of the same paper offers a partial solution.
Nabil Harim, a young man living in trash-strewn Upton, organized a self-help program when he couldn't get help from the city or adult neighbors. The Upton Trashfighters now keep the neighborhood clean.
What a constructive way to use youthful energy and enthusiasm. These young people have probably earned something else: pride and self-respect.
Even before The Sun's June 17 article, I was pondering the insulting idiocy of the "Inner Loop" and "Outer Loop" signs that have recently appeared around the Baltimore Beltway.
Surely, I thought, such basic knowledge of our city's major interstate needn't be posted, making all of us look like geographic dunces who don't know on which side of the road our largest city is located, or like featherbrains unable to distinguish between the inner side of a circle and the outer side.
Before reading your article, I couldn't help but wonder if a licensed Maryland driver could actually be that directionally inept.
After reading your article, which sadly confirmed that "the majority of people have no idea whether they're on the inner or the outer" loop, I wonder: What good will the signs do for our drivers who can't read?