Dole a hypocrite
In his recent diatribe directed toward Hollywood's leaders of the entertainment industry, Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole lashed out at their promotion of "violence, rape and casual sex in movies and music.'
"Must we debase our nation and threaten our children for the sake of corporate profits?" he asked.
This writer agrees that Hollywood must confront its responsibilities by substantially reducing the violence in the films it produces.
But Mr. Dole must be challenged and condemned for his unconscionable opposition to our environmental laws primarily designed not only to protect our precious children, but, indeed, all citizens of our nation.
Our environmental laws assured us of safe drinking water and unpolluted air. Toxic waste dumping and industrial pollution were substantially reduced.
Our wetlands played a key role in flood control and served as nature's kidneys to purify our lakes and rivers and the waters in which we fished and swam. Yet an estimated half of the nation's wetlands have disappeared since colonial days. Today 290,000 additional acres are still being lost annually.
In industrial factories across the nation, men of greed and power who initially cooperated in assisting to cleanse our environment have found it more profitable to return to their former dirty and dangerous methods, resulting in an increase of emphysema, lung, heart and other debilitating diseases.
If the opponents of our environmental laws have their way, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land on which we live will become as destructive as a nuclear weapon unleashed on our nation by a foreign enemy.
Mr. Dole, who is determined to gut our environmental laws, must be charged with hypocrisy and utter insensitivity to the future of our children, as he bows to the malevolent demands of his big business buddies who "threaten our children for the sake of corporate profits.'
Leon Peace Ried
No need to divide
For 50 years, the Baltimore chapter of the American Jewish Committee has been building coalitions and working to increase mutual respect and understanding between Jews and other religious, racial and ethnic groups within our region.
Through on-going dialogues and programs, we are committed to developing positive intergroup relations and healing past hurts.
Recent news stories and a Sun editorial (June 25, "Lessons Still to be Learned") clearly remind us that this vital work is not yet completed. However, we feel the editorial unfairly equated a local incident with a flagrant example of anti-Semitism in Poland.
The chapter's response to a concerned member was to assure her that we were aware of the occasional insensitivity to Jews and Judaism that unfortunately still exists among some members of the Christian clergy and laity.
And we informed her that the AJC is actively working with many Christian leaders in our community on a series of interreligious programs and activities designed to improve interreligious relations.
Because Scripture cannot be re-written, it especially needs to be taught and interpreted with great care and sensitivity. Indeed, this has been a primary concern of the AJC since its founding in 1906.
And the Baltimore AJC chapter will continue to do what it has been doing for a half century: work with our colleagues in the Christian community to build a better America.
We strongly believe that religious differences need not divide us as a nation. Rather they can contribute to the cohesive beauty of America.
It is that kind of religious pluralism that has been a hallmark of our nation. It is good to know that the AJC in Baltimore can count upon so many allies and friends in this important undertaking.
The writer is executive director of the Baltimore chapter of the American Jewish Committee.
As a taxpayer, I am distressed by the decision to fund something like the Walter G. Amprey Employee Lending Library ("Library offers help for troubled school employees," June 29).
I find it incredibly naive to think that teachers and administrators would flock to a "self-help" library specializing in titles like "I'll Quit Tomorrow" and "The Courage To Heal."
Why don't teachers just come in wearing a sign reading "I'm an addict"?
The library's director is Mr. Amprey's wife, Freda. One can imagine their conversations: "Honey, did you know Mr. [Smith] had a heroin problem?"
Mr. Amprey doesn't see a conflict of interest in hiring his wife, who earns $65,000 a year as director of the schools' employee assistance and wellness program: "The library is an honor," he claims.
An honor to what? Naivete?
Reports back Balto. county teachers
Sometimes, if one hangs on long enough and digs in deep enough, a shining light brings illumination and restores the occluded vision of others.
For three years, many teachers in Baltimore County public schools have openly spoken against changes for the sake of change, changes with no specific direction and changes without proof of prior success.
For three years, these same teachers have been routinely berated in your editorials, threatened by administrators and some ultimately forced by principals to transfer or retire.
Some openly opposed the misguided changes in the gifted and talented program.
How many middle school teachers rose up in protest at faculty and/or school improvement team meetings when their principals decided to open the G/T program to any students whose parents wanted them in it?
How many accurately predicted that G/T classes could become unmanageable because too many students would not have true G/T ability?
How many voiced concerns that, as a result, the curriculum would have to be watered down?
How many teachers had reservations about eliminating any type of process for selecting G/T teachers?
How many vehemently protested the practice of forcing students to take all four G/T level courses or none at all, for the sake of scheduling convenience?
How many expressed concern that the new G/T changes did not include any method or schedule to assess the impact of these changes?
Some others openly criticized the changes in handling discipline cases. How many expressed concern that there was no consistent suspension and/or expulsion policy?
These skeptical teachers noticed inconsistencies within their own schools and their own areas. How many teachers prophesied that continuation of these inconsistencies could wreak havoc with the reality and perception of safety?
All of these questions are now answered in two major reports given to the Board of Education in June: the "External Evaluation of the Baltimore County Gifted and Talented Report" and the "Student Behavior Report."
All of these questions, as it turns out, were not asked by has-been, worn-out reactionaries. They were asked by teachers afraid of change -- afraid of the wrong kinds of change for the wrong kind of reasons.
And yet all of these questions were validated in the two reports, for the reports cited all of the above concerns as problems within the school system.
Both reports clearly state that these problems need to be corrected. The teachers were right in asking these questions. They were right in demanding answers.
Yet, how many were silenced by fear and intimidation? How many were threatened with and actually received administrative transfers because they didn't share their principals' visions?
Based on the two reports, it now appears that those principals and higher administrators who allowed the misguided changes to occur were blinded by their vision.
To accuse critics of new programs of being detractors (a person who speaks evil of or belittles another) or reactionaries (having to do with or favoring a return to a previous and usually conservative state of affairs) is both insulting and incorrect.
To tell professionals who voice valid concerns about new programs, "Argue with me at your intellectual peril," is not only childish but a bit ironic.
Three years and two reports later, the "detractors' " intellect seems to be in fine shape. Time has shown that they know what they were worried about.
The most important questions are left.
How many teachers have been silenced and threatened because they dared to voice concerns and misgivings about other changes in Baltimore County public schools -- magnet schools, site-based management, home and hospital, whole language, and inclusion?
How long do they have to wait before the Board of Education commissions a report that will validate them?
In short, how many other inquisitors with blinded vision sit in judgment of those "heretics" who dare question doctrine and dogma?