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Filthy PlanetBeth Woodell's May 10 letter commented...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Filthy Planet

Beth Woodell's May 10 letter commented on the misdirection of America's environmental efforts, urging a shift in focus from recycling consumer products to clearing our biosphere from toxic petroleum by-products and industrial pollutants.

While her concerns are shared with the Baltimore community, contrasting these two environmental issues is simply unrealistic.

Ms. Woodell asks us to "take a look at the big picture" to recognize the "single biggest contributor to a filthy planet" instead of "micromanaging" everyday waste products. What she fails to understand is that these 12-ounce cans and two-liter plastic containers add up to some staggering statistics.

We as consumers can have a significant impact on making our planet more ecologically sound. Nobody discounts the problems with pollution. But satirically attacking the American communities' recycling efforts by shaming our inattention to air pollution is like berating a spouse for cleaning the dishes one plate at a time.

Yes, I have the guts to give up my auto and walk when I can. I have the guts to car-pool whenever possible and I even have the guts to own the most environmentally efficient vehicle made in 1987. But do you have the guts to join America in saving millions of trees and recycling billions of waste products in the next year?

Join the environmental crusade, recycle and lobby for better worldwide pollution standards.

Rus VanWestervelt

Cockeysville

God and School

I have read your editorials on the sad condition of our public schools. As a 1949 graduate of the A course at Poly, and as a former math teacher at City College, 1960-1964, I think you neglected to say how and when our schools started going down. They weren't always as bad as they are now.

I feel the downturn began when Madalyn Murray succeeded in taking God out of our schools and let the Devil go in. Check the record and see if it is not true.

Our jails are filled with the products of 20 years of godless teaching: "Whatever feels good, do! Don't pray, don't mention God, ever."

If you want to fix up our schools, start by teaching the Ten Commandments and acknowledging that there is a God who loves us and whom we are to love. Then you will see a miracle happen to the schools, the children and in 20 years, the adults.

=1 If you don't, then start building more jails.

Galeon

Timonium

Sharing a Slice

A May 4 Business section article on Pizza Hut stated the company was hiring 50,000 permanent part-time employees. "It's gratifying feeling," Allen Huston, the firm's chairman, was quoted as saying.

Why not hire 25,000 full-time employees with health and retirement benefits?

What are all these people plus all the other permanent part-time employees all across the country going to do when they need health care and a pension?

1% Is Mr. Huston going to share his?

Patricia Till

Glen Burnie

No Smoking

In your April 22 editorial, "No Smoking in Baltimore County," you refer to "lobbyists for the. . . restaurant industries" who "aren't about to quit fighting legislative attempts to ban public smoking." Please advise to whom you refer.

As your own earlier editorial states, "In Maryland, the state association of restaurateurs reversed field to back a statewide ban of smoking in all public places."

Since the Restaurant Association of Maryland is the "state association of restaurateurs" and is recognized as the legitimate voice of the hospitality industry in Maryland, I must question the accuracy of the lead sentence in the April 22 editorial.

Marcia S. Harris

Baltimore

The writer is executive vice president, Restaurant Association of Maryland.

Mental Health Cut

There is confusion regarding County Executive Roger Hayden's proposed cut of $871,234 in the county's funds for mental health services throughout Baltimore County.

This represents an over 40 percent cut in county funds. The Baltimore Partnership for Mental Health and Mental Illness Advocacy and Education (The Baltimore Partnership) opposes such a cut.

RTC The Baltimore Partnership consists of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Metropolitan Baltimore, the Black Mental Health Alliance, the Mental Health Association of Metropolitan Baltimore, and On Our Own.

United by a common mission, these four organizations represent the collective social action and advocacy voice of thousands of individuals who have mental illnesses, families and friends, mental health, human services and education professionals, clergy, community leadership and other public spirited persons.

Contrary to Mr. Hayden and his budget director's belief, the increased federal and state monies awarded to the Baltimore County Bureau of Mental Health are earmarked for special services.

This new money represents a federal block grant to Maryland. Actually, the state's funding of mental health services is declining.

Reduced funding will potentially result in higher costs for residential and institutional care for persons with mental illnesses. In actuality, all citizens of Baltimore County will suffer from these proposed cuts.

Susan Tager

Jan Despar Maybin

Diane Cabot

Peg Sullivan

Baltimore

The writers are executive directors of the four organizations in the Baltimore Partnership.

Chained Liberty

It is ironic that the Statue of Freedom (referred to in Bennard Perlman's May 12 article, "Armed Liberty") atop the Capitol was cast in a foundry using slaves.

Frederick W. Derrick

Columbia

Identifying Talented Youth

It was a pleasure to see The Sun carry a wire story on the achievements of Kristen Cook of Florida (May 12).

That a 13-year-old can earn a Scholastic Aptitude Test score of 1440 reflects substantial academic ability that richly deserves recognition.

Yet achievements of this magnitude are no surprise to the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth.

In fact, Duke University (for whose talent search Kristen earned her impressive scores) models its Talent Identification Program on the Johns Hopkins Seventh Grade Talent Search, which first established the use of the SAT to identify academic ability in younger students.

In 1993, CTY has identified five seventh-grade females who scored as high as 740 and 790; in 1991, one young woman, Chienlan Hsu, scored a perfect 800 score on the SAT mathematics section.

As the SAT is normally used to gauge the academic ability of college-bound seniors, these high scores reflect considerable achievements for seventh graders.

At a time when discussion has increasingly focused on the need for improved education in mathematics and the sciences, the kind of public recognition that Kristen Cook has earned is absolutely essential.

Right now, Duke University and Johns Hopkins University are collaborating on a paper on young women's abilities in the sciences and mathematics -- abilities that are, in fact, much more prevalent than is widely known.

Young women -- and indeed all students -- need to see that they can develop their academic ability to the fullest.

For the CTY staff, the last paragraph of your article was especially poignant. When Kristen's mother, Carolyn Cook, acknowledges that her daughter "is not challenged in school at all," she mirrors the concerns of many CTY parents and students.

Ultimately, encouraging academically talented seventh graders to take the SAT is only a means to an end: to identify a large number of students who will benefit from academic intervention -- that is, the opportunity to take courses that do challenge them.

Because of limited resources -- limited budgets, personnel, etc. -- many schools simply cannot address the needs of students whose abilities exceed the majority.

The educational mission of organizations such as TIP and CTY is to provide alternatives so that students like Kristen can avoid academic stagnation and sustain an enthusiasm for learning.

Linda B. Barnett

Ned Balbo

Baltimore

The writers are, respectively, the deputy director and the academic dean of summer programs for the Center for Talented Youth.

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