Parent dissatisfied with school board
From: Cindy Paul
With respect to all parents in Anne Arundel County, this letter is in response to all the letters that appeared in The Anne Arundel County Sun July 22 and Aug. 2.
Let me begin with: I do not and will not label myself an unethical or ethical parent simply by virtue of being a parent of children within the Anne Arundel County school system. I am, however, a concerned, loving parent who is no longer willing or able to have the mental, physical and educational needs (during school hours) of my children be met in a school system that is entrenched in desensitivity, bureaucratic red tape and clearly demonstrates abuse of power (i.e. the Board of Education).
I do speak from experience, and I, like so many other parents, find it necessary to remove my children from the public school system in our county.
To BOE officials who think parents and children have no rights and find it incredulous that I and others may be somewhat intelligent and have the guts to question their techniques -- this is the United States; I and my children have the right to choose a safe and quality education.
I have the right to choose not to send my children into an environment that is the marketplace for drug dealers. I have the right to choose not to send my children into an environment that is abusive (physical and/or mental), and I and my children have the right to say no to a cattle drive-type education.
It's ironic that we live within an hour's drive of President Bush, who calls himself the Educational President. Well, President Bush, as a consumer and with all due respect, I request a refund of all the tax dollars ($15,000) that I worked hard for and the IRS made sure you collected toward education. Thank you.
To parents throughout Maryland, we do have the right to stand up and be heard. We have the right through political means to make changes in the process that places individuals in the positions on the BOE. These individuals have to be held accountable for their actions or lack of action.
need to open up the process and bring in new people. I really believe that we need to have community elections that will send parents and grandparents, educators, clergy, community leaders and business owners to the BOE to run our schools. Just as with any elected official, should they not perform the duties the voters elected them to do (provide a safe and a quality education), they probably would not be reelected.
Therapy can help people face reality
From: Carolyn Sonnen
Indeed guided imagery and music can serve the purpose of escaping reality as Julie Jabaay stated in her letter of August 12. However, as a therapist, I know the difference between escaping reality and dealing with it.
The introduction to Angela Gambill's article on music therapy [Anne Arundel County Sun, "Therapist employs musical notes as special tools" 7/24/92] describes how a woman experiences the reality of loss in the upcoming changes in her life. Rather than escaping that reality, she used music to acknowledge and deal with it. In our American culture, loss and grief are realities that are often avoided. Music was quick to bring them to her attention.
Dismissing guided imagery and music as Eastern mysticism is totally inaccurate. All spiritual traditions have mystical forms (Christianity being no exception), and all spiritual traditions have music. Bach concluded his scores of sacred music with the words "Soli Deo Gloria" -- "to God alone the glory." Handel said he felt he was in the presence of God during every second of the weeks he was composing "Messiah" while Haydn dressed himself in fine clothes and a powdered wig each day rather than insult the Almighty whose presence he felt so powerfully in the creative process.
Granted, some music is trash. Great classical music is not. I hold deep reverence for the music I use in therapy and the music I perform. I also honor each individual who takes on the challenge of therapy in order to realize his or her potential. Our potential may indeed be given by God, but what good is it if we never discover or express it?
Fire department issue clouded
From: Gordon C. Hatt
I believe that open dialogue on matters of public interest is healthy in a free society. Unfortunately, sometimes that dialogue tends to cloud the issue and confuse the reader.
In my judgment, such was the case with Michael W. Robinson's recent article ["What's wrong with the Fire Department isn't the command structure," Anne Arundel County Sun, 8/2/92] concerning the Fire Department chain of command. Mr. Robinson begins his article with a brief (and incomplete) history of the chain of command in the Fire Department. He then uses this history as a launching pad to assert that a wide range of problems will be created by any changes in the status quo. He reasons that the proposed changes will, among other things, endanger public safety, not be cost-effective in light of budgetary constraints and demoralize the volunteers. I don't believe that Mr. Robinson's rhetoric remotely supports such allegations.
The allegations that the proposed change will endanger public safety is without merit. As Mr. Robinson points out, the current structure has been in place since 1977. At that point in the history of the department, there was a very small contingent of suppression officers. This small contingent was not nearly adequate to provide coverage on a countywide basis. Therefore, the addition of volunteer chief officers in the role of incident commanders was appropriate, even though these chief officers were (and still are) company level officers. I believe that Mr. Robinson might agree that the structure of the department, relative to suppression officers, has changed significantly over the last 15 years. The proposed change does nothing more than recognize this structural change in the department. It puts the volunteer company officer in the place which they actually occupy in the overall structure of the department. The proposed change does not preclude the volunteer officer from responding to calls and indeed from taking command if that is the appropriate action under the circumstances.
Mr. Robinson's article places the focus on the role of the volunteer officer as the commanding officer on emergency incidents. While the proper command of such incidents is paramount to the service we provide to citizens, it represents a small portion of the duties required of a management level officer. Most of the officer's time is consumed with administering to the day-to-day operations of the company. Indeed, the modern fire office must understand a variety of administrative functions, including; Title VII civil rights issues, recognizing employees with chemical dependance problems, handling budgetary matters, and a host of routine duties associated with running a company on a day-to-day basis. Mr. Robinson asserts that the ranks are "analogous." I think he will find, however, that most volunteer officers don't have the training or the time to administer consistently in this fashion.
Mr. Robinson alleges that the elimination of two ranks is not cost-effective in light of budgetary constraints. I submit that just the opposite is true. These ranks create an unnecessary and cumbersome layer of bureaucracy. In addition, given the small percentage of the total calls answered by these individuals, it is not cost-effective to provide them with free transportation at the taxpayers' expense.
When all else fails, Mr. Robinson relies on the old standby. He charges that the proposed change will demoralize the volunteers. Frankly, all of these charges being leveled by the volunteers is beginning to sound like the little boy who cried wolf. It seems that every change in the department is designed to "demoralize," "destroy" or "devastate" the volunteer fire service. If indeed all of these things do occur, it will be because the leadership of the volunteer fire service will not change with the times. Or, perhaps the volunteer leadership has their own "hidden agenda."
Finally, in addition to Mr. Robinson's other credentials, he is employed by the Baltimore County Fire Department. Baltimore County has a large contingent of volunteer firefighters. It is my understanding that the ranking officer in the volunteer service is a captain, and that there is no formal integrated chain of command. Many fire service personnel in this area (paid and volunteer) would agree that the Baltimore County system functions smoothly with such a configuration. For Mr. Robinson to assert that the proposed changes here would create the kinds of problems he alludes to is the height of hypocrisy.
Editor's note: the writer is former president of Professional Fire Fighters Local 1563, and currently serves as Fire Fighter III in Anne Arundel County.