Lies, Lies, Lies
Thank you for publishing such a positive view of adoption.
Marbea and Karl Tammaro
The first casualty of the 1996 presidential election is Dr. Henry Foster.
I am not surprised by Sen. Phil Gramm, who puts his finger to the political winds before taking positions.
What I am surprised at is Sen. Bob Dole running as the experienced adult candidate who is so blinded by his presidential desires that he has completely compromised his integrity to get the support of the Christian Coalition.
They got him to support the senatorial run of Oliver North, whose only qualifications were that he was a liar and ex-patriot who ran an off-the-shelf secret government.
It is clear by the way Mr. Dole handled the Foster nomination that the Christian Coalition warned him abortionists have no place in their vision of a Christian nation and unless he defeated the nominee he would be denied their support (estimated 20 percent of the party) for the presidential nomination.
I have disagreed with Senator Dole on issues, but until now have never questioned his integrity. Bob Dole should put the needs of
the country before his presidential ambitions.
Scorn for Lawyers
A lawyer, better known for his skills as a lobbyist, brags of his connections. In the political world he is important because he is perceived as influential.
After a jury trial, Maryland citizens beyond such influence convict him of criminal fraud.
A respected federal judge ignores mandatory sentencing guidelines. The judge is impressed by the defendant's ability to lobby written testimonials from professional friends and political acquaintances.
The defendant also argues financial ruin as mitigation of his sentence -- an annual income that plummeted from $1 million to $150,000.
A judge on the state's highest court seeks the advice of colleagues to determine if there is an appearance of conflict if he sits in judgment of a personal friend and political ally. He apparently was unable to reach the decision on his own.
Members of our profession anguish over the public distrust of lawyers and the scorn of the ordinary citizen for the judicial system. Go figure.
Rignal W. Baldwin Jr.
For 16 years I was a teacher and administrator in New York state. The school districts in which I worked were considered to be prestigious by their communities, but in reality, they were far behind the times.
Complacency prevailed. Change took years to occur. Superintendents were afraid to take a walk around the block without first checking with everyone and anyone. The superintendent's welfare was priority; kids came last.
I came to Baltimore County two years ago. Immediately I recognized several positive features I had not experienced in New York.
The county was implementing meaningful changes which make a difference for kids. Were the changes made too fast? Some think so. But have they been successful? You bet!
Our kids are on their way to meeting the challenges of the 21st century. And Baltimore County is now recognized as a national model for several of its reform initiatives.
Stuart Berger is a child advocate. His decisions are based on what is best for kids, not on winning a popularity contest.
If his style of communication is offensive to some, so be it. As adults, we ought to be able to see past that and appreciate what he has brought to this county.
All too often, in their search for the perfect superintendent, school districts undergo constant change in leadership. Whatever had been accomplished is quickly undone. There is no stability; there is no growth.
Sadly, this negative pattern is rarely recognized, and the cycle continues. Will Baltimore County be one such statistic? There is still much more to accomplish. Are we going to exchange strong leadership, foresight and results for children for a puppet who may court and entertain us?
What a tragedy that would be for our children. They deserve so much more.
G; The writer is principal of Lansdowne Elementary School.
Park Circle is More Than Its Appearance
In his March 14 column, Michael Olesker tells about the tragic events leading to the death of Charlie Christensen, who was fatally shot as he waited for the bus at Park Circle during the previous week. Charlie Christensen, who was deaf, bled to death from his wounds.
Mr. Olesker describes Park Circle, the area where Mr. Christensen was killed, as "an open door to decay." Mr. Olesker also called Park Circle "entrance" to the Pimlico-Park Heights-Reisterstown Road communities where "they shoot people on a busy street," a place of "rotted houses" and "broken bottles in grassy front yards."
Although I grieve for Mr. Christensen and other victims of senseless acts of violence, I believe that Mr. Olesker wrongfully distorts and assaults not only the neighborhoods near the murder scene but also the character of its residents.
Mr. Olesker laments how the neighborhoods around Park Circle have changed since the '60s. However, changing neighborhoods are simply a manifestation of one of Baltimore's most flagrant realities -- racially segregated communities.
Compared with the Park Circle of yesterday -- described as the former "gateway to northwest suburbia" -- the Park Circle of today is a reflection of a number of complex issues.
They include, among other things, the historical pattern of "white flight" that characterizes most major American cities and the problems of absentee landlords.
Equating dilapidated neighborhoods with low moral character is foolish. It makes as little sense as equating the exterior beauty of the White House and U.S. Capitol with the moral character of those who reside and work in those buildings.
The "street culture" does not define the Park Heights-Reisterstown Road community. It is a tragic part of it.
Co-existing in this community alongside the pain created by some of our youth who have made the wrong choices are hard-working, contributing teen-agers, adults and elderly individuals who continue as those before them have done.
They struggle against the odds in order to build schools, churches and community centers as well as raise a generation of children who do not participate in the street culture, who refuse to accept negative media images of themselves and their people.
They understand that although this neighborhood can no longer be defined by middle-class standards, neither can it be defined as a neighborhood of broken things. It is a community of people . . .
As a 15-year resident of this community, I am more than aware of the dangers to physical safety that exist. I am also aware that the physical markers of a neighborhood to not represent the hearts or consciences of its residents.
While former residents of this community may feel a sense of loss because of what used to be, any commentary on a community must be tempered by the common sense understanding that just as there exists "good" and "bad" in one's own natural family, likewise in every neighborhood family -- indeed the human family -- there are those who give us reasons to be proud as well as reasons to be ashamed.
Baltimore's Air Is Getting Better
The June 21 edition of The Sun reported that the previous day marked the third time this year on which air quality in the Baltimore area reached unhealthful levels. "An ominous beginning to the summer season," says an official quoted in the article.
It bears noting, however, that a much different picture emerges when we compare Baltimore's air quality for this year with that of past years.
As of June 20 last year, Baltimore had recorded five days with air quality in the unhealthful range. Ten years before that, in 1984, we had already experienced 17 unhealthful days by June 20.
And in 1981, admittedly an exceptionally bad year for smog (ground-level ozone), Baltimoreans endured 30 unhealthful days by June 20 -- almost three times the number of unhealthful days recorded all last year by the Maryland Department of the Environment.
To be sure, the relationship between numbers of unhealthful days and years is not smoothly decreasing, due to the highly variable effects of weather. Nonetheless, these numbers point to an indisputable yet rarely acknowledged trend: Baltimore's air is getting cleaner. In the mid-1980s, Baltimore met only three of the six National Ambient Air Quality Standards regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Today, we meet five of the six, with ozone the only pollutant that has not met the standards.
And the prognosis for ozone attainment appears very good when one examines past air quality data and emissions control actions -- past, present and pending.
In 1988, when extreme summer heat (heat and sunlight drive ground-level ozone formation) and stagnant air hung over Baltimore, the region exceeded ozone limits on 36 days.
In 1993, when similar weather again prevailed, only 12 exceedence days were recorded.
The reason for the decrease is that ozone-forming pollutant emissions (nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds) have fallen significantly.
Let us not lose sight of the setting within which these decreases in ozone exceedences have occurred. Despite annual increases in vehicle miles traveled, emission controls prior to the 1990 Clean Air Act (principally, tighter automobile exhaust standards) successfully reduced peak ozone concentrations. The record on that front is clear and unequivocal.
The controls mandated in the 1990 act are much more widespread and aggressive: gasoline reformulation in 1995 and 2000; evaporative emissions controls; stricter automobile exhaust standards; controls on industrial emissions of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, and several others.
Unpredictability in weather notwithstanding and assuming traditional increases in vehicle miles traveled, the emissions reductions resulting from control measures required by the 1990 act -- measures that have or soon will be implemented -- will accelerate our progress toward ozone attainment.
The writer is a professor of environmental engineering at Johns Hopkins University.
Gordon Defends Views on Racial Factors and Intelligence
David Folkenflik's April 3 article about my sociology course on "The Bell Curve" pulled out all the usual stops to discredit views on intelligence that actually are "mainstream."
To correct media misrepresentations concerning Herrnstein and Murray's book, 52 experts published 25 propositions constituting Mainstream Science on Intelligence." Mr. Folkenflik disregarded a copy of the Dec. 13 Wall Street Journal article I gave him to depict me as extreme and my students as dupes.
Mr. Folkenflik aligned himself with academia's "politically correct" factions, whose views are unsupported by intelligence experts but who dominate public discourse because they are favored by journalists like him.
Contrary to Mr. Folkenflik's report, I continue to offer graduate courses, although few sociology graduate students take them. The course he briefly attended admits both graduates and undergraduates, a policy I have followed for 30 years.
I did relinquish a required graduate course in 1985 after students complained I knew too much about IQ for them to argue with me and demanded that all IQ-related books be removed from the syllabus.
My department proved only too willing to oblige the future teachers of its discipline. Readers can judge this incident, omitted by Mr. Folkenflik, for themselves.
My statement that I had "given up" on teaching graduate students meant merely that I had surrendered the hope in view of the political climate within sociology that they would, or could, attend my courses.
Mr. Folkenflik claimed that I attributed the stubborn black-white difference in average IQ "largely" to genetic differences, thus going beyond Herrnstein and Murray.
The fact is, I have not yet taken a position on that issue, although I do recognize, with many others, that IQ differences in general reflect a major genetic component and that standard environmental explanations have proved feeble. I had even directed Mr. Folkenflik's attention to my letter in a campus newspaper correcting the same error.
I mentioned to Mr. Folkenflik that my work on crime differed from that in "The Bell Curve" by considering not only the individual's IQ, but also the IQs of peers and parents. He ambiguously rendered this limited remark as, "he believes ['The Bell Curve'] does not go far enough."
In fact, when interviewed, I warned against a backlash if cutbacks in welfare and a too optimistic reliance on job training were to impose great hardships on low IQ individuals. Asked what would reduce the black-white IQ difference, I replied that brighter blacks could have more children. We know this would work without being certain why.
My response was not politically incorrect enough, apparently, so Mr. Folkenflik attributed to me instead a statement not made that less intelligent persons "should" be persuaded to have fewer children. This was linked to disinformation about sterilization of "immigrants, Jews, [and] blacks."
Asked by him whether I was not concerned about working with scary ideas, I drew an analogy to those who hike through grizzly bear country, noting that realistic knowledge leaves them less fearful than others might be.
Mr. Folkenflik grafted my reference to grizzlies onto unrelated material about my racially integrated boyhood and then shopped this phony text around for comment to local black academics. They, assuming "wild animals" referred to my black childhood friends, responded accordingly.
Making further mischief, Mr. Folkenflik described my teaching as "laced with invective against liberals," but gave no examples of such unprofessional behavior. In fact, I had counseled students to eschew harsh language when alluding to intelligence differences and had discussed critically policies both liberal and conservative.
Coming from someone who recycled the phrase "professor of hate" from a slanted Rolling Stone article about me, Mr. Folkenflik's characterization of my teaching as invective would seem better to apply to his reporting.
Students describe my lecture style in reality as too dry. After two hours in my classroom, a local TV news crew found nothing more exciting to broadcast than my discussion of a formula.
At semester's end, 58 percent of the class rated their instructor "Outstanding." My average rating on the four-point scale was 3.5. Students complimented me as "professional" and "The Bell Curve" as "eye-opening." Even the most dissatisfied student, who found both course and sociology "boring," stated, "Dr. Gordon is often misrepresented."
A more typical comment was, "Professor Gordon is a very open-minded man. He listens, answers questions and gives his views but by no means does he attempt to pressure students into believing what many say are 'controversial' opinions. Great professor."
Often, students mentioned me as the "best" aspect of the course; the worst was it "could be a little more exciting." One cited as worst "the bad press."
Mr. Folkenflik provided a prime example of the biased coverage of intelligence issues that students were learning about from studies of media: the favoring of academics whose political views coincide with those of the journalist, the misreporting of content in the service of demonization and the portrayal of established results as controversial because academics with little standing in the relevant field irresponsibly denounce them.
Robert A. Gordon
The writer is a sociology professor at the Johns Hopkins University.