Barbara Z. Krupnick (letter, Sept. 6) is right: A strong public school is an essential ingredient of a healthy and stable neighborhood.
This is why neighborhood organizations including the Charles Village Civic Association, the Barclay-Brent Education Corporation, the Abell Improvement Association, the Greater Homewood Community Corporation and the Barclay Community Council rallied behind the administration, teachers and parents of Barclay School in their 3 1/2 -year successful struggle for school board approval to integrate the private Calvert School curriculum into the Barclay public school setting.
This is also why the same organizations, joined most recently by the youth committee of the 25th Street Task Force, have continued to support Barclay with volunteer efforts, material and monetary donations, and a variety of advocacy activities, including last year's campaign to pressure the middle school program.
As an outside evaluator noted at the end of the second year of the Barclay-Calvert program, "a school serving an affluent suburban community would count itself lucky to have such community support.
"In a city school [Barclay's level of community support is] remarkable. No small credit for that support," he added, "lies with Ms. [Gertrude] Williams," the principal of Barclay School.
As the final year of the pilot phase of the Barclay-Calvert project begins, the school-neighborhood partnership will continue. The community has good reason to be proud of what the program has achieved.
Accomplishments to date include not only rising test scores but the outstanding performance of Barclay students in a national comparative study of writing programs; increasing numbers of students eligible for the gifted program; significant drops in referrals to compensatory programs and in students retained for a second year in the same grade; and -- perhaps most important -- confidence and commitment among teachers, students and parents.
We invite any interested persons to contact us for further information.
Jo Ann Robinson
The writers are coordinators of, respectively, the Barclay Community Council and Barclay Family/Community Programs.
Of the four elements of fighting crime (police, judges, jails and parole) only the police in my opinion are doing a satisfactory job.
The police do a good job of arresting criminals, only to have to arrest the same criminals again and again -- some as many as 20 times.
In court a sentence is often a ludicrous sentence or no sentence at all. Two examples:
A person convicted of a heinous crime is sentenced to "life plus 30 years." Picture a criminal lying in a cell for 30 years after death. My lawyer friends and my friends on the bench are quick to explain the lack of jail space and the parole system as reasons for sentences that make no sense at all.
A juvenile is released to the parents for stealing a car and his record is "secret" -- even to the judge. The same juvenile steals another car and another car and repeatedly is "released to the parents."
We can "fix" the jail problem effectively and economically:
For overcrowded jail space, use recently closed army camps. Use them in two ways:
For hardened criminals make the camps secure with barbed wires, armed guards (how about Army personnel?), the works. We never hesitated to take prisoners by the thousands in Desert Storm because there was no place to put them. Put prisoners in tents, not in the plush accommodations they now have.
Put juveniles in camps also, something like a Boy Scout camp -- not the same camp as above. For first offenders one night would be enough to give them a message, a message that if you commit a crime, you "do time."
The parole laws must be changed. If a person is sentenced to a given time, he serves that time. Give the judges a chance to hand down a sentence that makes sense.
Face the facts, crime is out of control. Murders are committed at record rates, drug dealing is everywhere, cars are stolen by the hundreds, etc. Let's really declare war on crime.
Quentin E. Erlandson
Your Aug. 26 article, "A victory for nursing homes?," was of great interest to me. The state of Maryland is to be congratulated for having the foresight to establish the chronic level of care.
This category gives our state a continuum of care not available in other states. The alternative is hospitalizing patients in units that are more expensive. This means millions of Maryland Medicaid dollars have been saved over the years.
The difference of opinion regarding the ventilator patient is not about dollars, it is about patient safety and quality of care. Chronic beds are classified as hospital beds; we must meet hospital regulations.
Our institution is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation for hospital beds as well as nursing home beds. Unlike nursing homes, chronic hospitals are required to have a quality assurance committee, utilization committee and ethics committee. They must also meet all the requirements that nursing homes must meet.
My point is that vent patients are ill, their conditions can change momentarily. Chronic hospitals deliver safe, quality care at the lowest possible cost.
This is what Maryland residents deserve.
Noel E. Kroncke
The writer is president of Deaton Speciality Hospital & Home.
Parole-Probation 'Time Bomb'
The article entitled "New parole agency chief sees 'a time bomb' " in the Aug. 29 Sun points out a critical problem.
Careful study of the state's parole and probation agency will show that it has been chronically under-funded since well before the current "budget crisis." Management, unable to obtain sufficient staffing, has attempted to deal with this under-funding by devising a number of schemes to deal with the burgeoning criminal population in Maryland.
The former director, Henry Templeton, determined that the agency could not meet all the demands being placed upon it. As a result, Mr. Templeton created a plan where those offenders most at risk of re-offending and/or committing serious violent acts would be supervised most intensively. These offenders would also receive most of the division's resources in terms of reduced caseloads and specialized programs such as intensive caseloads, day reporting, boot camp supervision, intensive drug caseloads and now intensive domestic violence caseloads.
While all of these sound wonderful, they were created at a cost. The cost was that most of the experienced staff needed to man these programs were drawn from agent and supervisory ranks throughout the state. These people could not be replaced. Mr. Templeton and his staff identified Baltimore City as having the most violent offenders. Thus the programs he established primarily (although not entirely) benefited Baltimore City at the expense of the rest of the state.
In addition, Mr. Templeton created a system where offenders moved through three levels of supervision from intensive to standard to administrative, with each level having lowered requirements for contact with the offender.
In the administrative category, there were no contact requirements. Also, caseload "caps" were placed on the intensive and standard caseloads which are not allowed to rise above 50 and 150 respectively. Open-ended administrative caseloads were assigned to supervisors who were already supervising six to 10 agents (in some cases many more) plus clerical staff.
Division management justified these decisions, to supervisors and the public, by giving the impression that only the "active" administrative cases, a small portion of all administrative cases, required work by the supervisor. The reality is that most, if not all of these cases, require daily work, taking up much of a supervisor's time and energy. Supervisors carry 250 or more of these cases.
The cost to the division for these decisions cannot be measured. Supervisors spend little of their time providing the guidance and training needed to ensure that agents can perform their jobs correctly. Administrative Law Judge Cornelia Bright Gordon clearly sympathized with the supervisors' plight.
We welcomed former director Nancy Nowak's recognition of the problems facing the parole and probation agency. We hope the public and the press will continue to express concern over these public safety issues.
Ernest Eley Jr.
The writer is the president of the Maryland Association of Parole and Probation Agents.