Getting To School Safely
After reading the editorial dated Jan. 27 ("Where School Responsibility Ends"), I feel that the writer has no real idea of what really goes on around the Old Mill High complex.
As a parent of students who attend Old Mill High, I resent being labeled as "petrified." A better word would be "concerned" for all students. Why aren't the schools responsible for student safety? Especially since there are students being assaulted on school grounds and on designated sidewalks that lead to and from the school complex.
. . . No one's asking for "24-hour patrols," only more help before and after school in certain areas such as Shetlands Lane. There are real problems that exist in this area.
I would like to address the article (Feb. 23) on curbing welfare benefits. Because of the recession, state workers have had to increase their hours with no raise in pay. Sacrifices are being made . . . by everyone.
Charles Forbes, of the Maryland Interfaith Legislative Committee, says that "Middle-class parents with three or more children are not charged tuition by the public schools their offspring attend."
Does Mr. Forbes know where the money comes from for our education system? From middle-class property owners' taxes. We pay at the gas pumps (welfare mothers generally can't afford cars so they take the bus). We pay the bill for everyone. . . . When I was 6 years old, my father passed on, leaving my mother with eight children under the age of 18 at home. Her recourse was Social Security survivors benefits, which at that time had a ceiling on it. . . . My mother had never worked a day in her life, but took work as a waitress to support her family. The older children baby-sat the younger ones. . . . And guess what? All eight children have full-time careers and have never been on welfare. What does that tell you?
The Real Problem At The Naval Academy
This is partially in response to the editorial cartoon (Feb. 21), and partially in response to the lack of response which I have noted in all the papers which cover the Naval Academy.
While I don't want to "sling mud," I also don't want problems ignored which are present in this local institution that trains officers for the nation. And, I don't want the Electrical Engineering department or a fine faculty member attacked once again to divert attention from a problem which belongs to the entire academy.
I am a former faculty member in the department of Electrical Engineering at the Naval Academy. I loved working at the academy because it can provide a high degree of personal fulfillment and professional challenge. Relationships built with my peers were very satisfying and there is a tremendous opportunity to "affect the product."
In the 9 1/2 years during which I worked there, I observed many changes in the brigade, the faculty and the administration. . . . Past senior administrations are at fault for developing in the brigade an attitude of infallibility and superiority which many find offensive, a lack of personal responsibility for their own success, and a belief that one is not guilty until or unless he is caught. There has recently been a start at reversing these flaws, but the academy now faces a test of the current administration's resolve.
I understand that "some" midshipmen premeditatedly pooled their financial resources and bought the exam from a civilian worker somewhere in the chain of getting the exam to the copy center. Until this recent cheating event, the process for submission of material to the copy center, including exams, was loose, with no one signing for responsibility of possession along the way.
Even if the instructor had not followed procedure, short of selling the exam himself, or placing it at the disposal of any mid who wanted it, blaming him or the EE department should be an insult to the "honor code" of the brigade of midshipmen. An instructor should be able to give a sealed envelope containing an exam to a student taking that course with instructions to take it the copy center and expect that it will get there uncompromised. That is honor. Any "error" on the part of the faculty does not absolve the midshipmen who committed such a blatant act of dishonor.
There are reportedly 28 midshipmen believed to be involved out of about 700 and [academy spokesman] Cmdr. [Mike] John, says that "there is no evidence to believe the exam has been compromised to the extent that it would have to be taken again." This is based on the observation that the grade distribution came out "about the same" as previous course-wide exams. . . .
Yet, in 1974, for a navigation exam, 20 out of 965 were found guilty of involvement in a cheating scandal, and the entire sophomore class was ordered to retake the exam. Have the standards of culpability been reduced over the years? The administration says no, but what is the message midshipmen take from this?
Members of the military frequently avow that one of the primary lessons for the midshipmen to take from the academy is that of the spirit of group unity. One of the methods employed in all branches and levels of the military for instilling this spirit is the punishment of the group for the actions of a few. Retesting would have been an excellent concrete example of the philosophy that everyone suffers when even one member of the group screws up.
I must admit that even I have some misgivings in asking the entire class to retake the exam. There were many students who worked and who did well on their own. It is possible that they might not do as well on a retake as on the original exam, and it just seems wrong that the innocent should suffer also. But to deny retesting because it doesn't look as if the cheating helped anyone and it would be a lot of work is in itself a demonstration of a lack of professional ethics and personal integrity. At least use the "right" excuse. . . .
Patricia E. Burt