Save the Tower
Now that Maryland has its own official monument at the battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa., the old brawl over demolition of the observation tower is again in the news.
Ironically, the spire was designed and built on a low budget by a Maryland firm about 20 years ago.
I'm inclined to agree that the tower doesn't do a thing to enhance beauty of the battlefield or its surroundings. And its presence does nothing to make the battlefield any more valuable as a national historic treasure.
But its value could be a resource in some ways.
If we were to ask what is the most important reason ecology is such a national priority nowadays, the answer would probably be our quest for space exploration. For years now, satellites have shown our little spaceship surrounded by a thin layer of atmosphere, unique in all of its beauty.
The ecological shot heard round the world was Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring," a best-seller about the time we began seeing pictures of the earth taken from space.
So, what has space travel got to do with the Gettysburg tower? What the tower does is give the visitor a panoramic view of the region and not just the battlefield, in much the way that satellite photographs show not just Baltimore but the Chesapeake region.
The tower could be a good way of keeping preservation of the battlefield and area around it foremost in the minds of everyone.
Of all the accouterments on or near the battlefield, the tower is my favorite. I've enjoyed it several times in recent years.
To have a bird's eye view of such a historic place is a real treat. It allows me to see the entire battlefield at my own pace, not at the pace of a tour guide or museum program.
Once on a very windy day in the early spring, I disobeyed a sign which forbade entrance to the uppermost deck of the tower.
I had to hang on for dear life as the wind at 307 feet was definitely for championship kite flying. It almost blew me over. The feeling I had afterward was very much like the one I have after going for a swim in the ocean.
As we continue to squabble over the preservation or demolition of the tower, let's ask if all this bickering would be taking place if some entrepreneur wanted to open a 500,000-square-foot shopping mall or outlet center near the battlefield.
Probably not. We'd probably just accept increased traffic congestion, crime, pollution and land desecration as inevitable ingredients of the American dream.
This is a response to the Opinion * Commentary column of Peter Jay Oct. 20, "The 800-Pound Gorilla in the Statistical Jungle."
The editorial choice to use that terminology as a headline for a commentary on a book which questions the intellectual ability of black people is an insult. It is difficult to believe that it was unintentional. An apology is called for.
The repeated assertion that IQ differences between black people and white people has been a matter of "continued censorship," "taboo," "unmentionable" and "a blackout" is patently false. There has been no attempt to censor.
As any college freshman can tell you, the issue has been studied in depth by sociologists, educators, anthropologists and other experts. The results of their studies are printed in any Sociology 101 textbook and elaborated on in any number of scholarly books.
Contrary to the commentator's contention, "intellectual freedom" has not been threatened or even "limited".
If the authors of "The Bell Curve" had spent their time writing an 845-page book on the cumulative effects of 250 years of racism, they would have clear answers to their questions.
The myth of white superiority has been around too long. It's time to label it for what it is -- pure bunk.
Rob Hiaasen's Nov. 16 story on the Public Relations Society of America's annual convention in Baltimore was appalling.
I believe the reporter showed a negative bias and displayed an embarrassing lack of knowledge about the public relations profession.
Certainly one aspect of public relations is encouraging the media to write stories about corporations, non-profit organizations, public programs and other news issues. But to think that a practitioner's role is limited to baby sitting the media is short-sighted and naive.
While examining new developments in industry trends, technology and tactics were central in this year's PRSA convention, much of the meeting was focused on enhancing skills in areas ranging from writing and media relations to management and research.
In addition, the conference addressed topical issues that affect Americans such as corporate downsizing and the growing lack of confidence in government.
Perhaps Mr. Hiaasen's article was intended to be a comedic essay, in the style of Kevin Cowherd's genuinely funny "The Flip Side," but it was not labeled as such.
Instead it was presented as a news story, a real disservice to your readers. What's more, it was an embarrassment at a time when a record 2,200 communications professionals -- some of whom are ex-journalists -- were in town.
David M. Imre
L The writer is president of the Maryland Chapter of the PRSA.
No Magic Way to Reform Schools
The Tesseract experiment has been attacked because students' test scores and attendance are disappointing and have not improved dramatically. Some claim that Tesseract contains the magic ingredient that will automatically improve the learning achievements in the designated schools. Others have criticized the program as a monster that will not succeed in reaching its stated goals.
It would be the opening wedge for the creeping encroachment of the privatizing of public schools. A free public education is a fundamental edifice in the structure of democracy that needs an informed and participating citizenry. Now the hue and cry is that Tesseract has failed and we must get rid of it.
It was an error in perception that Tesseract is a panacea and the magic bullet that would instantly cure all the ills and ailments of a floundering public school system.
The pros and cons have not focused upon the several elements that make for a successful school with acceptable learning standards and achievements.
What happens too frequently is that diverse elements of school and community point political fingers of blame at each other.
Privatization is not the magic exhilarant potion and cure-all.
Parents and other citizens say it is the failure of teachers. Others, it is the failure of students. Some say it is the failure of parents.
The crux of the matter is that these divergent groups must work together to produce a good school. The adverse publicity and conflict have lessened the success potential of Tesseract.
Parents, students and some teachers are saying that Tesseract won't do anything for me. The fundamental factor is that whether a school is private or public, students, parents, teachers and administrators must be motivated and dedicated.
The television program "48 Hours" carried a program on diet food, health and weight control. The bottom line is there is no magic formula for weight control. Eat sensibly and consume balanced portions of healthy foods cooked properly.
There was one school where the youngsters ate bread containing flax. The executive of this flax bread company claims that bread with flax is more healthy than other breads and increases the learning capacity.
The children were convinced that this is so. They recited a phrase, "We are lean, learning machines." Learning increased, and their high morale moved them forward in educational achievement.
Apparently, the same thing is happening at Johnnycake Elementary School in Baltimore County and Barclay Elementary School in Baltimore City.
To be sure, adequate education funding and sufficient resource materials are of great importance. However, there is no magic bullet. What grade and motivation can be given to students, parents, teachers and administrators?
Are parents encouraging their children to learn with love and discipline? Is a time set aside for doing homework, and is school work being done with consistency?
Deal realistically with these factors and do not expect some magic formula that will sprinkle us with success externally without an internal change of heart, mind and endeavors.
Rev. Sidney Daniels
The writer is pastor emeritus of Emmanuel Christian Community Church.