School critics hurt system by going to...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

School critics hurt system by going to court

Your article on the Baltimore City public schools computer system concerned me greatly ("Special-ed tracking system may be replaced, city says," March 21).

If the school system currently has a deficit, how is it that $60,000 has been spent for a court advisor to review the new data system? If teachers are spending money out of their pockets for materials, how is it the court can make these demands? Where was the court when the $6 million was spent on the tracking system in 1992-93?

No one has discussed the issue on a statewide basis, just what is happening in Baltimore City. But what subdivision in Maryland is doing an adequate job of providing special education services?

These actions also appear to be discriminatory. What actions have been taken against Montgomery County and Howard County?

School Superintendent Walter Amprey has only been in his job four years. Yet the state and the courts seem to expect miracles. The school system is a bureaucracy, and it takes time to change a bureaucracy. It is easy to criticize, but difficult to have creative ideas and to implement change.

If the courts put the schools into receivership, will things be better? Probably not, and no one will care.

History has shown that when the courts take over a school system no improvement is demonstrated.

Edmund R. Stansbury

Baltimore

Teacher standards

In reply to Jean Thomas' letter on teacher standards (March 25), I agree that teacher training courses are beneficial.

However, there are other standards. To teach, one needs a strong voice and good delivery plus excellent health to withstand what is required of a teacher.

A good teacher must relate well to students. This seems to be more in the personality of the teacher than what is learned.

Finally, a good teacher needs to understand the subject matter she or he teaches.

In other words, training standards are fine, but they are not the only standards for a good teacher.

Also, substitute teachers with classroom experience should receive credit toward the 90 hours of courses required for certification.

Margaret L. Dubin

Baltimore

Hostage to politics

Recently, there have been many passionate pro and con statements made about the school lunch program. The pros would have us believe many children will starve without the program. The cons say the program is a big waste of money and the country would be better off if it were either reduced or eliminated.

In reality, the school lunch program is just another example of political expediency. The schools are being used as a political pawn to placate special interest groups.

The schools' purpose should be to provide and further education. When they are used as a tool to solve social ills, as is the case with the school lunch program, the results are generally not very satisfactory.

For example, since the schools are open for only 180 days a year, one wonders how the children being fed by the school lunch program receive nourishment for the other half of the year.

There is no doubt that the school lunch program benefits some children, but only partially. If we allow Congress to cut this program without offering a viable alternative that addresses the needs of underfed children 365 days a year, the Republicans' Contract with America should be renamed the Contract on America.

James M. Hall

Baltimore

Downtown crime

I am writing in response to the March 24 article written by Peter Hermann and Tia Matthews entitled "Drop in Downtown Crime Praised".

It is extremely encouraging to read about the efforts of Downtown Partnership, a private organization that promotes businesses by striving to create a positive public environment for everyone who uses downtown, in concert with the Baltimore Police Department and local business owners.

As a native of Baltimore, there has always been a certain amount of fear and apprehension associated with the aggressive panhandlers in the downtown area. This, coupled with the visible prostitutes and drug dealers in the area, made our most valuable tourist attraction seem much like New York City. There is no doubt that fear of other rising crime downtown made many visitors, both local and tourists, feel less than safe.

While the fear of crime is a national phenomenon, the pro-active steps being taken to curb the crime level in downtown Baltimore are most comforting. The many programs currently instituted to combat crime, from officers riding bicycles in bright, distinguishable uniforms throughout the area to safety guides giving directions and assistance, can only lead to citizens feeling a greater sense of safety.

After years of feeling as though our city was destined to be another crime-riddled statistic, I am finally comforted with the knowledge of the actions being taken to raise the level of standards in the downtown area.

Michele L. Noppinger

Baltimore

Right stuff

Reading Scott Loughrey's March 8 letter decrying "conservatism" at PBS makes one wonder whether the Loony Left has, at last, lost touch completely with reality.

Fairness and Accuracy in Media, a group as far from being unbiased as you can get, is actually an arch-liberal organization dedicated to keeping the media firmly under the thumb of the "progressives" (read "ultra left-wing").

Having this bunch of clowns do any analysis of balance in the media is like having Slick Willie examine truthfulness: It's neither fair nor accurate, it's an oxymoron, and it's best not to be taken seriously.

Richard F. Oles

Pasadena

Robertson on gays

Gabriel Rotello's March 21 Other Voices column, "Should gays try Gandhi's methods?" presents a distorted view of the facts surrounding the Mel White story and the views of religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.

Mr. Robertson visited Mel White in the Virginia Beach city jail at the request of Mel White's distraught parents, who wrote Mr. Robertson asking that he visit their son.

As a father and grandfather himself, Mr. Robertson responded to the requests of a hurting family. As a further gesture of compassion, Mr. Robertson dropped the trespassing charge against Mr. White, who was responsible for his own arrest.

After meeting for five hours with officials from the Christian Broadcasting Network on Feb. 14, Mr. White was told that if he returned to CBN property the following day, he would be jTC arrested. The next day, Mr. White returned and chose to be arrested.

Mr. Rotello failed to point out that Mr. White's incarceration was self-imposed and designed to create a media event.

Mr. White ordered his followers not to post bond and refused to sign a release form that would have facilitated his freedom if he would only agree not to trespass again by returning to our property.

Mr. White chose to remain in jail and attempted to direct a media campaign from his cell.

Further, Mr. Robertson rejected Mr. White's claim that his opposition to homosexuality is responsible for violence against gays. That damaging and irresponsible charge is baseless and without merit.

In fact, in his meeting with Mr. White and in a letter delivered to him, Mr. Robertson clearly rejected that claim and strongly repudiated such behavior:

"I have never preached any hate against homosexuals or lesbians. And I would never condone violence or encourage violence. I have never, nor will I, counsel others to commit acts of violence against you or any other homosexual."

Mr. Robertson stands firm in his belief that homosexuality is biblically wrong. But don't be swayed by the "homophobic" label used by Mr. Rotello and others.

Consider how Mr. Robertson recently responded to a parent whose daughter is gay: "The Bible does not condemn such a person. The Bible offers help, love and understanding. Grant love. Grant mercy. Don't be condemning."

The jail meeting with Mr. White did not compromise Mr. Robertson's Christian convictions, or bring credence to the homosexual life-style.

Instead, the meeting brought the kind of Christian love and compassion to the issue that has been the hallmark of Mr. Robertson's ministry for the past 35 years.

But, that's something you won't hear from columnists like Gabriel Rotello.

Gene Kapp

Virginia Beach, Va.

The writer is vice president for public relations of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

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