Quality schools require effort at every level
As a parent of children in the Baltimore County schools, I applaud the Maryland Department of Education's plans to institute rigid standards for high school graduation. Only through uncompromising standards will our children receive the kind of education they deserve.
However, I disagree with the methods proposed by the state, specifically the "final exam" that all seniors must pass in order to graduate.
As an engineer, I am very familiar with manufacturing and would like to draw an analogy between the education and manufacturing processes.
For many years, American manufacturers have been trying to improve the quality of their products. The most common approach has been to inspect all products at the end of their respective assembly or fabrication steps.
However, many industries quickly discovered that you cannot "inspect in" quality at the end of the line. If components that meet their requirements are not used throughout the process, the end-product cannot possibly be acceptable.
In the end, many companies found they needed to improve all the processes that lead to the final product in order to improve its quality.
It is the same with the education of our children. Giving them an exam at the end of high school will not make them learn any more or do better later in life. We need to concentrate on continuously improving and evaluating the educational process in every grade.
Only by doing this will we produce high quality students who are prepared for advanced education and careers.
Neil S. Rothman
Your editorial "A pound-of-flesh amendment" (Dec. 14) is frighteningly off the mark in a world where honest citizens are so often victimized by crime and feel so helpless against it.
You state that the "American justice system works." What planet do you come from?
Crime is everywhere. People are afraid to use bank machines or go grocery shopping for fear of being robbed or murdered. They are terribly frustrated with a system that cares more about protecting the rights of the lawbreaker than the law-abiding.
That mentality is certainly reflected in your statement that a victims' rights amendment to the Maryland Constitution "poses a threat to the basic American guarantees of the presumption of innocence, due process and a fair, speedy trial."
What nonsense! And what a total misunderstanding of the real threat to America today.
What about the presumption that people will be free of crime or the guarantee of being able to go out without being attacked?
People are afraid, and they have a right to be. They have lost faith in a system that won't even give them an opportunity to be heard when they become victims of crime.
You just don't get it. A victims' rights amendment makes perfectly good sense. It should be passed by the General Assembly.
Gov. William Donald Schaefer is against such a move. He thinks it would lessen Baltimore's chance of eventually landing an NFL franchise. Wake up people, we are simply not going to get a franchise.
So why not take Mr. Cooke up on his proposal? But let's do it right.
Use a combination of Mr. Cooke's private money and the funds allocated for a football stadium at Camden Yards to build a first-class domed stadium, the Maryland Dome. Move the Redskins there, and change their name to the Maryland Terrapins.
The name Redskins has become politically incorrect anyway. We could even have the nearby Maryland Terrapins college team play there on occasion, or the Naval Academy football team.
In the future, such a domed stadium near both Baltimore and our nation's capital might even attract a Super Bowl, or a college football playoff game.
We already have the area's only baseball team, and an extra 14 miles isn't too far to drive to see a football game.
The choice is ours, but remember -- half a loaf is better than none.
It is not the end of the world if Baltimore doesn't get a National Football League franchise.
In his book "Poor Richard's Legacy: American Business Values from Benjamin Franklin to Donald Trump," author Peter Baida relates the following anecdote about football mania:
"Unaware that Andrew Carnegie detested football, Woodrow Wilson, then president of Princeton University, showed his guest the college football field, hoping for a new stadium in 1906.
"At the end of the day, Carnegie told Wilson that he knew exactly what Princeton needed. 'What?' asked Wilson, the eager host.
" 'A lake,' said the philanthropist. 'That will take the young men's minds off football.'
"In this way Princeton, obtained a $400,000 lake three and a half miles long."
Alfred J. Cole
Don't be trite
A letter Dec. 7, headlined "Thanks, stranger," by Jacqueline Newman, described the good feeling she got from a "Hi, I love you," tossed to her by a stranger in a passing automobile.
She asked if she was right that, "if more of us would take the time to say 'I love you' not only to those we know but to total strangers as this person did, what a better world we would have."
I feel she is not right.
Why? Because the utterance of the phrase, "I love you" has, as it should, a deep and abiding meaning to be extended to those with whom we share a deep and abiding relationship.
It is not an expression to be bandied about casually by a stranger to make one feel good for the moment. Otherwise, "I love you," could become as trite and meaningless as "Have a nice day."
Elected school board is no solution
Once again, the obvious point in the continuing controversy as to how school board members are selected in Baltimore County is being overlooked. Instead of the need for the public to entertain other options,such as elected school boards as some suggest, the public should first give the current process a strong effort by getting involved.
The School Board Nominating Convention is not as inaccessible to the public as some of the media claim. Citizens may participate in the process through PTAs, community associations, civic groups, churches and synagogues.
If a citizen is not involved in some type of organization that meets the criteria to join the School Board Nominating Convention, then maybe the problem is citizen apathy and not the current process. We all have an obligation to get involved in our community.
Only after people have given the current process an honest effort, can we say it is time to consider other options. With that in mind, I would like to point out that to go from our current system to an elected school board is a rather drastic step. It is like going from A to Z and missing B through Y.
Certain groups advocate elected school boards to promote their own interests. If our current system has problems, than we should fine-tune the process and not throw it away.
Certain groups have used controversies such as the one this past year, in 1989 and in 1976 to promote the change to an elected school board.
I believe the printed media have an obligation to the public to educate us as to the importance of our involvement in the current system. Additionally, the media should educate the public as to how modifications to our current system will make it stronger.
Reducing the argument to an issue of our current system versus an elected school board does not serve the goal of educating our children.
Many people have been upset over issues such as inclusion and administrative transfers. If these two issues never became controversial, our school system would still be faced with major problems such as overcrowding, discipline, shortage of teachers and materials, meeting the needs of a diverse population, dealing with problem students and families, obtaining more funds in tough economic times and dealing with a growing student population.
Every time I hear the argument for an elected school board, I wonder just how an elected board will make it easier to meet the challenges we face. It seems that an elected school board will just make it easier to hide behind the problems.