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Cuts put city schools in double bindI...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Cuts put city schools in double bind

I am an 8th-grade Baltimore City student who has attended public school all my life. I am now faced with the problem of choosing a high school which will suit me for the next four years.

I looked at several schools, two private and two public, but quickly decided against one of the public schools and one of the private ones. So I was faced with a decision either to stay in public school, where I had been since kindergarten at Mount Royal Elementary, or go to a private school which I had heard very good things about.

The good things about the private school were that it had lots of sports teams, though the public school had a good number too; the private school had smaller classes, while many public schools are overcrowded; the private school had funds galore, while the public school was just getting by. So my choice was obvious, right?

I had applied for a scholarship at the private school and had already made the second of three cuts with my public school education so I was going to visit to make sure it was the school I wanted to attend.

When I got to the school it was great. The teachers were nice, the classes were small and the chorus sounded great. But something was missing. Something didn't let me feel at home. I had made my decision, and I was going to stick with it.

The next week the eighth graders at my school were to fill out their applications, so I did, putting Western as my first choice.

The next couple of weeks were normal, until one day I heard in my algebra class that the state was planning to cut $4.8 million from city school aid.

"What?" I said. "They can't do that, the city is poor enough as it is, how can they cut more money?"

My algebra class is very small and soon a full-fledged discussion began. One of my friends, Kendra, pointed out that the money was going to be cut until the city could prove the schools were worth it. But how can we prove it if we have no funds to prove it with?

"It's a double standard," said Kevin, another classmate.

So what I'm asking is for those 85 people who favored the idea to cut spending for the BCPS to please reconsider. Some students may fit the public school stereotype, but there are a lot of students who don't, and those are the people who will be hurt.

Carrie Gifford

Baltimore

The writer is a student at Fallstaff Middle School.

Justice for whom?

What is justice? Who receives it in our current judicial system -- the criminal or the victim?

Last August, one bright afternoon as my granddaughter and I were leaving a post office in northwest Baltimore, a clean-cut young man wearing a hat approached us from the rear and stuck something hard in my right rib cage. He escaped with my pocket wallet (total loss of $75 or $80).

Both a woman approaching and the man who chased him saw him too. My granddaughter and I identified him from a police photo book. In addition, I was required to identify him from a second set of photos.

Seven months later, his case has been heard before a judge. Despite our identifying his photo in the mug shot book, my identifying him and my granddaughter pointing him out in court, because I was not able in court to say that I was positive it was the man, the judge found him not guilty.

There was no doubt in identifying the pictures. My 17-year-old granddaughter, who got a better look at him, pointed him out in court. His mother had even come to me apologizing when I told her the judge said not to discuss the case to anyone. I was honest, did not ask my granddaughter if it was the man. I followed the judge's order. His family left the court room laughing while we left hurt because he was the man.

Justice is on the criminal's side. Our society needs justice, too. Or must the criminals always get the last laugh because they are the only ones whom justice favors?

Jacqueline Williams

Baltimore

Government gas

As sure as the sun rises, the government's involvement with the experimental "oxygenated" gasoline has had predictable results. The price of gas has risen about 5 cents per gallon (ostensibly due to the "oxygenated" process), and -- in my case -- the efficiency as measured by miles per gallon used decreased by 14 percent.

Would it not have been truly amazing if the government had announced an experimental gas that not only cost less but would burn cleaner and with higher efficiency?

One hope is that, true to form, the government will hire consultants to do a 10-year study of the experiment, with a report of recommendations forthcoming.

Albert Thomas Holt

Cockeysville

Register guns

The Second Amendment guarantees the right to "keep and bear arms." Would this include an A-bomb? We may need some changes in our laws.

On the other hand, if guns of all kinds were totally outlawed it might have almost no effect on street violence, which is our big problem.

fTC Street drugs are illegal, but that does not stop the traffic. The same applies to guns. Some law-abiding citizens keep a gun for no very good reason, and accidents occur.

We should consider a registration and waiting-period law, but no more than about two weeks. Note also the word "registration," not license. License implies a privilege which can be withheld for no good reason.

!McKenny W. Egerton Jr.

Owings Mills

Safe car, bad driver

It's ironic the state of Maryland puts such a high premium on the mechanical safety of automobiles while -- in Baltimore at least -- the operators of these rigorously "inspected" vehicles routinely ignore the basic tenets of safe driving.

If every Baltimore driver who had not used a turn signal in the past six months or who had blatantly run a red light within the last two days were taken off the road, Baltimore would have clean air, parking spaces to spare, and auto insurance premiums that wouldn't give middle-class residents nosebleeds.

Not to denigrate local traffic cops, though; parking tickets do raise easy revenues.

Lea Jones

Baltimore

Shafting workers

"Downsizing" and "rightsizing" are the latest euphemistic buzzwords for laying off workers. With technological advances, especially the computer, workforce needs are reduced.

Do you remember the notion that if you work hard, you will get ahead? Not necessarily. Nowadays, if you work so hard as to do the work of two men, then why hire two men? Some short-lived praise or even tangible reward for this unusual diligence will probably result.

However, in time, this hard work will be taken for granted, and you and every member of the staff will be required to do the work of two men. This will then enable the employer to "downsize" or "rightsize" his staff by laying off one half. Of course this will dramatically increase the work productivity of the company. Such a company will then be showered with praise and hailed as a leader in restoring, ironically, the American worker to pre-eminence in the world.

Of course the benefits to the company do not end there. Since half of its workers are now unemployed, there is a glut of this type of worker on the marketplace. And what rules the marketplace? Supply and demand. So the company can keep its remaining employees in fear, even depriving them of existing benefits, since there is a ready supply waiting on the outside. A laid-off worker is probably an ideal employee. Nothing like a few weeks on unemployment to soften up such a person. They will now be cheap, submissive and oh-so-grateful for the job.

Some critics might charge that not all companies are as ruthless and calculating as this. Probably not, but such a company has a decided competitive edge over others, and competition is the name of the game.

The employees' plight is compounded by the fact that no one really looks out for their interest. The unions have been beaten up in public opinion by professional public relations hit men. Besides, unions have traditionally been the allies of blue-collar 00 workers and the current situation affects mainly skilled, educated, white-collar workers.

Who will come to their aid? No one, not the media, not the politician and least of all public opinion. Their message: "You had better just shut up and bear it like a man. You see, shafting the employee in this way is good for the company, good for business, and what's good for business is good for America."

Michael Phillips

Columbia

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