Success in SchoolHaving the ability to get...


Success in School

Having the ability to get into all sorts of trouble without looking for it, I should be wise enough not to seek more controversy. However, the May 2 opinion piece by Peter Jay -- "What Do 'Honors' Mean When Everyone Gets Them?" -- rankled me.

While I am not certain of Mr. Jay's thesis, my best guess is that he believes that education is some type of sport in which only certain people succeed. (I certainly hope that is not his view of medicine, because when I am sitting in the doctor's waiting room, it is my fervent prayer that he intends to cure everyone.)

I assume that since Mr. Jay was attending an honors society program at a private school, that either his children or someone close to him attends that school. Such attendance does not foreclose his right to an opinion about public education, nor should it. But I wonder how much familiarity Mr. Jay has with public schools. Does he realize that it is the goal of the public schools to be certain that everyone succeeds? Such a goal by no means leads to mediocrity nor to an inability to distinguish among student achievement. Not only is Mr. Jay's argument elitist and unrealistic, but his tone and examples are truly distressing.

First of all, Mr. Jay claims he does not know what an "educator" is. I find that rather odd for a man who writes a column that will be read by hundreds of thousands of people. An educator is someone who has spent many years studying education and has had a great deal of experience working with students. Really, for someone who is advocating higher standards, it would not have been difficult to look up the word in the dictionary.

Finally, Mr. Jay bemoans the fact that the average grade at Dartmouth College is a B and also that Brown University gives only As, Bs, and Cs. He finds these appalling statistics.

I, too, am surprised that the average grade at Dartmouth is a B, because, given the quality of its students, I would have expected the grade to be even higher. Why in the world would we punish students who achieve in high schools by giving them grades in college that do not reflect their excellent achievement and ability?

Simplistic solutions to complex problems make for great Sunday morning reading. Clinging to the past may be comforting, but it will lead this country to economic ruin.

Stuart Berger


The writer is the superintendent of Baltimore County public schools.

No More Testing

Roger Simon (The Sun, May 19) rightly points out that "the last thing we need is more nuclear testing" given the long-term environmental problems that testing causes. Continued testing could lead to a potentially more serious short-term problem as well -- the spread of nuclear weapons to other nations.

France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States are currently observing a testing moratorium, while China has not tested since last September. If testing resumes and this unprecedented opportunity to conclude a comprehensive test ban treaty passes, non-nuclear nations will have received an implicit go-ahead to pursue the bomb.

Recent revelations regarding the nuclear programs of Iraq, North Korea and South Africa suggest that President Clinton risks endangering the national security of the United States if he seeks to appease the Pentagon by allowing nuclear testing to continue.

Mark S. Sternman

Washington, D.C

The writer is a staff member of the Peace Action Education Fund.

Mighty Pen

Kudos to The Sun editorial writer who, with a single stroke of his (her?) magic pen, May 14, managed to move the Kentucky Derby from Louisville to Lexington.

William F. Malone


Clinton(s) Booed

The front page headline "Clinton draws cheers on road" (May 18) makes one wonder about the objectivity of your reporting.

I don't recall your reporting that the president -- or should it be the presidents? -- was (were) roundly booed by the majority of 300,000 people when he (they) appeared at the Armed Forces Day open house at Andrews Air Force Base two days earlier.

Believe me, he was!

Charles A. Frainie


No News Here

"Dog bites man." It just isn't news.

Why bother to print State Police Superintendent Larry Tolliver's letter (May 11) supporting your closing classified pages to honest people who want to sell legal firearms in accordance with state law? No news there.

This is the fellow who owes his career to Gov. William Donald Schaefer. This is the fellow who gave away $50,000 a year of taxpayers' money by discontinuing the sales of confiscated hunting rifles and shotguns and pistols to licensed firearms dealers. Why? He says the state doesn't need the money. He says one of the guns might end up in the hands of a criminal, though there is no indication that any ever has.

In any event, it is not news that the State Police superintendent favors every conceivable measure designed to hurt the interests of legitimate firearms owners under the cloak of fighting crime.

Robert L. Dunker Jr.


Suburban Artists in Need, Too

While I applaud Baltimore County Councilman Douglas B. Riley's call for more money for arts groups that serve the whole metropolitan area (May 14), I strongly feel that before Baltimore County gives funds to Baltimore City, the city government needs to first change its attitude about supporting the arts, specifically the guidelines on its city arts grants. That is a program that refuses to support individual artists and organizations that serve the greater Baltimore metropolitan area but aren't specifically located in the city.

I have brought the matter to the personal attention of members of the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Arts and Culture, raised issue at one of Rep. Kweisi Mfume's town meetings on the arts, and have sent letters to the Baltimore Community Foundation, whose report on Baltimore and the arts called specifically for greater cooperation between local governments and organizations, with the goal of turning Baltimore into an "Artistic Model for the Nation."

It would be a different matter if the county had a similar program to support its artists, but it doesn't. As a Baltimore County resident, I would certainly want to see any money go first to support the development of programs that would enable me to bring my artistic message to a larger audience, rather than to slip beyond my reach into an disinterested city agency.

In this climate of financial and political bickering, it's the artists who are the losers. Administrators, institutions and bureaucrats have to remember that it's artists that create the arts in the first place. Without us, galleries, museums and concert halls would be nothing but empty shells.

George F. Spicka


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