Gift of hope
Members of my church, Brown Memorial Woodbrook Presbyterian Church on North Charles Street in Baltimore County, have been following with particular interest the many reports in The Evening Sun in recent weeks on the problems in the Baltimore City public schools.
On the initiative of our member Sarah Duff -- coordinator, early adolescent years, the Institute for Middle Grades Reform of the Baltimore City public schools -- our church offered to the city schools sufficient funds to pay the fee and expenses to bring Dr. Lorraine Monroe, principal of the exemplary Frederick Douglas Academy in New York City, to Baltimore for a full day with city principals and middle school teachers.
This offer was accepted, Morgan State University offered space, and Dr. Monroe came to Baltimore on May 25.
In the morning, Dr. Monroe spoke to middle school principals, and in the afternoon all middle school teachers in Baltimore City were released to hear her engaging presentation of the philosophy, methods and principles that have been so successful in stimulating high achievement in the students in her inner-city school in New York.
The 1,400 to 1,500 Baltimore teachers who packed the auditorium gave her a standing ovation at the end of her talk, "Techniques and Strategies for Creating Quality Education for Middle Grades Students."
Who knows what the impact of that day may be in classrooms across the city in months to come.
A recent Evening Sun article included the statement that "the roots of the problem include low expectations and unfocused or absent community support." Our county church has tried to help turn that around with a gift of hope and encouragement to the middle school teachers of Baltimore City.
Anne S. Minkowski
Crime in the city
Baltimore City is in worse shape now than it has ever been. I can understand why so many people are leaving the city for the outer counties.
The main cause of this exodus? Crime. I used to love living in the city, but I would move to the county if it were not for my mother, who lives with me and doesn't want to leave.
The June 15 news article on city seems to be laying blame on Mayor Kurt Schmoke.
I never voted for him; nor do I feel he has done a good job for Baltimore. But I can't see blaming him for all that's going wrong.
I've seen police officers at times just sitting in their vehicles doing nothing or just talking with another officer also parked alongside him. These officers should be working their district, letting themselves be seen.
Commissioner Thomas Frazier said that out of 250 people arrested by the violent crimes task force in four big raids, 246 were convicted.
The Evening Sun showed that there were 92,783 crimes committed in 1994 ranging from auto theft to murder. Given the total amount of these crimes, how many were convicted?
I don't believe our court system is strong enough. Our judges don't hand down stiff enough sentences to keep these drug dealers and other criminals off the streets. Once these criminals are back on the streets, they do the same thing again.
The solution? Put them in jail and don't ever let them out.
Our court system is also too lenient on juveniles. This is where it should be nipped in the bud, because these juveniles who commit crimes are going to turn out to be adults who commit worse crimes.
The mayor, the Police Department and the judges should all sit down and discuss what can be done to make Baltimore a safer place to live.
Don't let the people of Baltimore feel like prisoners in their own homes.
New principal at Patterson ineffective
As a parent in the Patterson High School community, I am alarmed by conditions at the school.
I had hoped that wonderful changes would occur after the new principal, Bonnie Erickson, took charge for the 1994-95 school year. Unhappily, very little positive has come from her leadership.
When Ms. Erickson originally took charge it was with the understanding that the teachers, parents and community members would plan for the new academies, with some help from the Baltimore City Public Schools administration.
Unfortunately, a select group of "yay-sayers" Ms. Erickson brought from her previous school have had most of the say.
We at Patterson can solve our own problems. Yet we are fighting the same old battle: The proposed expenditures for the academies and the proposed funds aren't reconcilable.
Moreover, the planning is irrational and apparently senseless in many cases. Community involvement has been almost nonexistent.
This year violence has reigned at Patterson: There are fights every day, yet no punishment has been forthcoming for the offenders.
It's amazing that students and teachers have managed to survive -- which brings up another important point:
Several established members of the teaching staff have been told by the principal that they will be administratively transferred, despite having satisfactorily met all teaching criteria.
These are dedicated, experienced professionals who are devoted to the children and have maintained order for their students when often none existed in the larger school structure.
Among the reasons the principal gave for transferring these teachers was their tone of voice when asking questions at faculty meetings.
Apparently, one teacher seemed too articulate and cultured; another made a comment at a faculty meeting which the principal felt was inappropriate, and yet another teacher spent grant money "too sparingly."
All of the teachers were told on their yearly evaluations that their educational philosophies didn't fit in with the new academy plan for next year. Yet Ms. Erickson had not discussed her educational philosophy with any of them.
It seems to me that Ms. Erickson needs to work on her tone of voice, strive to be more articulate and cultured and take a lesson from the frugal teacher.
Ms. Erickson's educational philosophy for parents and teachers has been to divide and conquer rather than unite them behind a common goal that would benefit the school, the community and society as a whole.
As a taxpayer and voter, I strongly suggest our elected representatives look into this matter.
They might consider reinstating our teachers so that chaos will not reign during the 1995-96 transition phase, administratively transferring Ms. Erickson and bringing back former principal Jesse Little, who has a better understanding of the Patterson community and the issues of the school.
The writer is president of the Patterson High School PTA.
Boo to baseball
Former Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent's comments the other day about his lack of interest in baseball after the players' strike sounded a familiar note.
I share an Orioles 13-game mini-plan with a few other people. Having been to two games already this season, I now regret my decision last December to spend my money on the Orioles.
The reason I renewed our tickets this year was that I like our seats and was afraid that I would regret losing them if my anger and disgust at the players ever wore off.
It hasn't, and my interest in major league baseball has been permanently doused.
Never again will I care about or enjoy the pro game after the players' strike. Considering the obscene money those guys were already making when they went out, their disregard for the fans left me totally indifferent to whether major league baseball even stays in business. I'd love to see every one of them have to try to find a real job.
I have yet to watch a single game on television, and the only reason I go to the games is that the tickets are paid for.
Then, once there, it certainly doesn't help my attitude to get ripped off at the park for everything from hot dogs to peanuts to soda. After my seats were increased to $14 a pop (only to have fools like me pay the price), plus food and sodas for four, it costs over $100 to take my three small kids to a lousy baseball game.
But no more. They got my money this year, and that's it. I'm selling the rest of my tickets for this season, and as soon as I can, I'll spend my sports money going to see the Frederick Keys.
There, the dogs and seats are cheap, and my kids get in free by wearing their Little League uniforms.
I'll also turn my attention to Baltimore's new American Hockey League franchise.
Stephen M. Kranz