It's the Teachers Who Deserve Our Support
I am not a teacher, but I have been intensely involved with my three children's education in private and public schools for 17 years.
I know many teachers and take offense for them at the unfortunate conclusion of your June 21 editorial branding them obstructionists whose interests are not the public's interests.
In my work, I consult with businesses and professions of all types, and I personally know of no other profession on the whole more committed to making a positive difference in the lives of our youngsters and, by extension, in the life of our nation.
They undertake this task within the adverse working framework of low pay, low ability to impact the administrative decisions that affect their lives and low levels of respect from the public they serve -- including you, whose job to inform and influence is not unlike theirs.
Until this country places a higher priority on education, until we respect and pay teachers what they are worth to our society, we will be reading and bemoaning the test results that show us as a nation lagging behind the other industrialized countries in public secondary education.
What will it take until we realize that budget cuts in education only mean more money needed for social services, unemployment compensation and ultimately the criminal justice system?
At this time when money is tight and educational renewal is urgent, we need insightful leadership that can motivate the profession and the public to change. We need leadership that can demonstrate ordinary, everyday respect and consideration to the teachers and parents who care so much about, and have invested so much in, the education of their children.
Baltimore County School Superintendent Stuart Berger's arrogant, abrasive style is a poor model for a system that cannot help but impart values as it educates. It will not get the job done no matter how good the policies may be he wants to pursue.
For he may be brilliant, and he may care deeply about education, as I have heard, but without the ability to inspire others to close ranks and to follow him, he cannot serve successfully as a leader of innovation.
Until he learns to move people and projects forward together, he will remain an expensive risk for this or any school board.
Recently, I watched my second son graduate from a fine Baltimore County high school, a school of which teachers, parents and students are rightly proud. I saw in this past year a serious deterioration of morale and effectiveness, with no improvement in sight.
Please do not support Dr. Berger at the expense of the teachers. Education takes place in the classroom, not in the superintendent's office.
I would feel remiss if I didn't express my sincere compliments to The Sun's June 24 front-page layout, whether intentional or not.
The picture of the assemblage at the Loch Raven High School auditorium showed the stone-faced, seriously sanctimonious "deep thinkers" in Baltimore County.
It was a classic photograph in itself, since both sides of the Stuart Berger issue have been unable to resolve their differences in a reasonably adult fashion and in the best interest of the youngsters.
Yet it was an article below it, concerning Junius Wilson, a 95-year-old deaf man of African-American extraction who has been mistakenly imprisoned for mental illness since 1925, that offered an interesting contrast in the perseverance and dignity inherent in some individuals.
This man, who had little if any chance at birth to make even a modest success of his life, was able, under what at times were incomprehensible conditions, not only to survive to an extraordinary age but did so in a socially unbelievable manner.
Those professionally associated with Mr. Wilson describe him as "outgoing, intelligent, sociable, charming, playful and industrious, with a keen power of observation."
Perhaps those qualities are a part of the magic elixir that makes life rewarding. Who knows? I know this: I am rooting for him to live another 95 years under greatly improved circumstances, and it sounds like he might just be able to do it.
It was the disparity of human nature in the two above situations that caught my attention. There has to be a message here somewhere. Maybe it just has to do somewhat with having sound perspective and the ability to move forward in as positive manner as possible, regardless of the obstacles encountered.
Stuart N. Carlisle
Ginsburg and Law
Your June 19 story, "Abortion issue simmers before Ginsburg hearing," by Lyle Denniston, mischaracterizes my reaction to Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg's remarks on abortion at the Madison Lecture at NYU.
The story is wrong in suggesting that Judge Ginsburg changed her approach to the abortion issue in response to remarks that I made to her.
Since the mid-1980s, both Judge Ginsburg and I have written academic articles urging that state laws denying women access to abortion be seen as a form of gender discrimination, as well as an issue of constitutionally protected privacy.
The joint opinion in the Supreme Court's 1992 decision in Casey v. Planned Parenthood incorporates this approach, saying, "The ability of women to participate equally in the economic and social life of the Nation has been facilitated by their ability to control their reproductive lives."
Judge Ginsburg's entire career reflects a deep sensitivity to and empathy with poor and unsophisticated people. It is wrong to suggest that this is something new in her thinking.
In the Madison Lecture, Judge Ginsburg provided a wise and complex analysis of the role of judges and the abortion issue.
At a formal dinner after the lecture, Judge Ginsburg did exactly what she urged good judges to do, i.e. she engaged in a process of mutually respectful dialogue with people, including me, with views somewhat different from her own.
The subtle refinements in the final version of her lecture reflect the normal process of development of all good scholarship.
Sylvia A. Law
The writer is a professor of law at New York University School of Law.
Should anyone wonder what is wrong with American business or why it seems necessary to have "union-busting" legislation in Congress or why manufacturing is fleeing to Mexico or anywhere else that will have it, I direct your attention to the June 16 story about Ricky Gates.
Read aloud the first sentence of the second paragraph, the one that says toward the end, "[It] . . . was a four- or five-hour job that would net him two days' pay under union rules."
On June 28 an article entitled "The Intrepid Commuter" appeared in the Maryland/Regional News section of this paper. The reporter did list the information as it was given to him by our office, but, unfortunately, with one glaring error.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., does not drive a 1993 Mercedes-Benz. What she does drive is a 1993 Mercury Sable.
The error occurred on our end when the record was interpreted incorrectly. The mistake, admittedly, in light of Senator Mikulski's firm belief in supporting American-made products, does the senator and her constituents an injustice.
The record listing the car type as MERC for Mercury, however, could be easily interpreted as "Mercedes."
The Motor Vehicle Administration wants to clear the matter up and set the record straight. Senator Mikulski has always driven an American-made vehicle (our records show that her last two cars were Chevrolets) and, through her car purchases, proves that she is a true practitioner of "pocketbook patriotism."
W. Marshall Rickert
The writer is administrator of the MVA.
The contemplated sale of the Orioles to an out-of-state group of buyers for $141.3 million is now front-page news. This was accompanied by projections of "cash flow" which confirm that the investors will recover their investment in a relatively short period. This very favorable investment result will be assisted, in no small measure, by the "gift" of services and facilities by the city and the state.
A New York Times' sports columnist, Robert Lipsyte, has made the following observation:
"If taxpayers are expending large sums to keep ball clubs in their cities through tax abatements and other subsidies, shouldn't we have some assurance they won't move? Shouldn't we have equity in the teams? Should the cities themselves own the teams?"
Samuel L. Silber