It's time for Stuart Berger to move...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

It's time for Stuart Berger to move on

Regarding your article "School chief tires of Balto. Co. battles," (June 15), Superintendent Stuart Berger is right: He is .. an agent of change, but he is certainly not a leader.

Berger came to Baltimore County full of himself and certain that he could bend the school system in any direction he chose.

I am sure he felt he had the backing of the School Board. I am also sure he had no conception of the degree of support and concern for the public schools held by the majority of the county's citizens.

While generally held in high regard, the system Berger came to was not perfect. It had been slow to recognize the changing nature of its citizenry in age, racial makeup and economic strength.

Its methods of recognizing and promoting superior personnel needed restructuring, and the quality of individual schools was uneven.

The system needed change, but it also needed leadership, something Stuart Berger has shown he is unable to provide.

His idea of how to create change is to dictate, threaten, coerce, stonewall and belittle.

Sitting in the safety and isolation of the Greenwood mansion, he leads by edicts issued in an imperious manner which create fear, disorder, insecurity and confusion.

He refuses to cooperate in any way with the county executive or the County Council, creating anger, suspicion and hostility among the fiscal authorities upon whom the financing of education depends. The result this year was the largest cut in the education budget in years.

His mishandling of inclusion resulted in massive protests by parents. His initiation of the "administrative transfer" has created hostility in several communities and massive defection from the school system by many able and experienced teachers.

His magnet school program has created major funding imbalances among schools, with some schools having money for almost any need while others seemingly are ignored like unwanted step-children.

Berger commented that as soon as he leaves, the system will return to the status quo.

Here is a man who believes he has no possibility of achieving his objectives. Why should he stay another year?

The money is there to buy out his contract. It would be money well spent.

However, if Stuart Berger were interested in anything other than his own massive ego, he would admit to failure, ask to be relieved of his contractual obligation and move on.

David M. Clements

Freeland

Lancers a great club

I compliment you on the wonderful article (June 7) about Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman and his involvement with the Lancers Boys Club. My son Justin just completed a marvelous four years experience with the Lancers.

The purpose of this letter, though, is to invite every parent throughout Baltimore with boys of high school age to offer this wonderful experience to their sons.

What other program offers an opportunity to meet such a variety of speakers as Supreme Court Justices Harry Blackmun and Sandra Day O'Connor, Oliver North, Michael Dukakis, Julius Irving and Digger Phelps, plus an opportunity to partake in a myriad of community activities ranging from tutoring middle school students to working with physically challenged children and -- at no cost -- attending Broadway shows from "Tommy" to "Les Miserables," Bullets games and trips to Kings Dominion.

Lancers is an experience available to any high school boy in the area. To join, simply show up in September for one of their bi-monthly Friday night meetings that will be held this year at the Friends School.

To parents of high school boys, the Lancers program is certainly an opportunity not to be missed.

Charles Shubow

Owings Mills

Smoke screen

A recent article revealed the amount of money the tobacco industry spent on lobbying state legislators this year ("Lobbyists swarm to gambling," June 4).

Let's take a look at what $400,000 can buy.

In the battle over clean indoor air, the industry successfully robbed waiters, waitresses and other hospitality workers of protection from secondhand smoke.

It appears that restaurant and bar employees do not deserve a safer workplace even though they must work around smoke all day and face higher risks of cancer as a result. How is this for a bonus?

The tobacco industry also convinced legislators to defeat a bill which would have made it harder for merchants to sell tobacco to children. The industry says it does not want kids to smoke, but you will never see it support a law to prevent tobacco use by youths.

Merchants can still sell tobacco to your kids through vending machines without fear of punishment. So much for the industry and legislators showing concern for children.

Not only did the tobacco industry pay numerous lobbyists this year, it also "sponsored" front groups.

A group called CONPOR was the tobacco industry's "grass roots" support in the fight against smoking regulations. All of CONPOR's bills were apparently paid by the Philip Morris and RJR tobacco companies, with help from the Tobacco Institute. Why does the tobacco industry need to hide behind front groups?

That's why I had to laugh when I saw a full-page advertisement in The Evening Sun that featured another front group's toll-free phone number.

It is sad to think that some people actually believe that the tobacco industry is fighting for their "rights."

They are not interested in fighting for smokers' "rights." They only want their money. By focusing on a so-called government "conspiracy" to rob smokers of their "rights," the industry is trying to make them forget the facts.

People start smoking as teen-agers, get addicted, then smoke many years. They eventually get horribly sick, cause some non-smokers to get sick as well, and often die young.

And much of the time, taxpayers foot the enormous bill.

I am waiting patiently to see an ad where the tobacco companies tell the truth instead of hiding behind their many smoke screens. Will any of us see the day?

Janice K. Schneider

Columbia

Motor sports

This state is missing out on the opportunity to build a first-class motor sports racing complex.

Neighboring states gain worldwide exposure from motor sports. NASCAR sanctions races in Martinsburg, W. Va., Richmond, Va., Dover, Del., and Long Pond, Pa.

Why not in Maryland?

The National Hot Rod Association recently sanctioned the first "Virginia is for Lovers Nationals" at Virginia Raceway Park. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce estimated it would bring in $14 million over four days.

Miami, Long Beach, Calif., and Detroit all sponsor Indy car races on the city streets.

Why not in Baltimore?

When someone mentions Indianapolis, I don't think of the Colts. I think of the Indy 500 or the Brickyard 400.

When someone mentions Daytona, I think of the Daytona 500 and Speed Week, not the beach during spring break.

Marylanders are fortunate in having the CFL, the Orioles and the Preakness.

But let's face it: The NFL has it in for Baltimore, attendance is down at Camden Yards and the horse racing industry cries poor every year.

Auto racing teams don't leave town in the middle of the night. Drivers don't go on strike. The motor sports industry is fueled by corporate advertising, TV broadcast rights and spectators.

If our legislature can support funding for Camden Yards and a golf and convention center in Western Maryland, it could support building a first-class motor sports facility in Maryland.

Failing that, the legislature should at least support private efforts to bring professional motor sports to Maryland.

Bruce Ehman

Rosedale

Farewell, Mr. Simon

For the past 15 years, the Baltimore City Public Schools have been the custodians of a veritable treasure in the person of David Simon, who is retiring this year as director of the Baltimore School for the Arts.

During his tenure, Mr. Simon and his dedicated faculty have guided hundreds of aspiring young artists toward successful careers in their chosen fields.

Even more importantly, by their loving example these committed educators have imparted the values and skills necessary to help their students become both graceful winners and gracious losers in professions that all too often are characterized by "dog-eat-dog" competition.

As the mother of both an alumnus and a current student at the School for the Arts, I suspect I speak for many other parents when I say that for my children to have been David Simon's students was not only a privilege but an honor.

Anne Huppmann Kidwell

Catonsville

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