EMG vs. Md. IntechThe brouhaha over the...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

EMG vs. Md. Intech

The brouhaha over the 72 people entertained by Educational Management Group, Inc., for weekend trips to the company's home offices draws attention once more to the terrible lack of communication between the state and county education systems in Maryland.

The primary justification for the trips appears to be that EMG is presenting a unique service that is available nowhere else.

Only a few short years ago, four to be exact, those same people could have received almost exactly the same kind of introduction to, and demonstrations of, interactive television systems right here in Maryland at Maryland Intech in Owings Mills.

The package also included a vast range of educational materials designed specifically for television, incorporating already accepted and established teaching outlines and guidelines in use in the Maryland schools.

Somehow, the message never reached those people. The reason it did not is probably that it would have cost the county governments a million or so dollars each to install the equipment, and it could not possibly accept an idea from the state that would cost the county money.

Much better that the county should wait a few years and pay four or five times as much to purchase a much less effective system on its own out-of-state.

The former Maryland Intech was a division of the state Department of Education originally established 20 years ago to produce educational television programs.

It received national recognition for the quality of its products; many of them are still in daily use nationwide.

A few years ago the outfit changed the name to Maryland Intech because of its growing involvement with computers and other electronic teaching equipment.

The emphasis then centered upon putting all the developing electronic mechanisms to the best possible use in meeting the changing needs in education.

Interactive television (where students can talk to the televised instructor as though he/she was in the same room) was one of Maryland Intech's strongest and most fully developed educational packages, but its weakest point was the cost of the equipment.

The state would not pay for it for the counties, and the counties would not pay for a state toy, so nothing happened.

Then-Gov. William Donald Schaefer evened an old score by disbanding the entire production division, and the years of work went down the tubes.

The counties can now go out and pay an out-of-state agency four times what it would have cost them to get the same technology through their own state.

How many more times will this scene be repeated before the school systems learn to share their advances?

Gene Griffin

Catonsville

Following Biblical Commands

I wish to respond to the July 19 commentary by John Brain on the action of the Episcopal Bishop of Easton in stripping the authority of a retired priest because he blessed the union of two gay men dying of AIDS.

In my opinion -- and I believe in the opinion of many orthodox Episcopalians -- this was the bishop's proper disciplinary

recourse in response to an act of disobedience against the church, to say nothing of an act against the revealed commands of God.

The church has always rejected homosexual unions as contrary to the laws of God and nature because that is the clear understanding of the Scriptures.

In their ordinance service all bishops state: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I . . . solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church."

Love of one's neighbor was certainly a central theme of Jesus, but he did not speak of erotic (eros) or brotherly (philios) love but of agape, a higher love -- like the love that Jesus has for us.

Part of agape love is desiring for one's neighbor that which God desires for them, as revealed in the Old and New Testaments. "Thy will be done" assumes that what we want for one another and ourselves is that which our holy, righteous and loving Father wants for us.

Sometimes that means saying the hard word -- "tough love" as it's called today.

Perhaps an appropriate response to the two men dying of AIDS on the part of the retired priest would have been to have declared to them God's mercy and love for them, and his willingness to forgive their sins through the most loving and selfless act of all: Jesus' death on the cross in the place of all of us sinners.

After confession, he then would have pronounced the blessing of absolution.

The Episcopal Church is in a crisis of authority right now: Who will determine our moral limits?

Many in the church have sold out to the prevailing culture which condones actions specifically forbidden in the Scriptures. Jesus, summing up his sublime interpretation of the Old Testament law in the Sermon on the Mount, said: "Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

I think Bishop Martin Townsend of Easton is to be commended, not criticized, for his brave stand and proper exercise of church authority.

Madeline S. Whitaker

Baltimore

Public Schools Fine

I am writing in response to Jonathan Alter's Opinion * Commentary column (July 25) on class and public school vs. private school.

I attended public schools for 12 years until graduating (with honors) in 1983. I then went on to college where I received a bachelor of fine arts degree.

I am pretty much right in the Generation X demographic, which also means I went to school during the beginning of the decline of public schools.

In high school, I was fortunate enough to attend the Baltimore School for the Arts.

In that environment, privileged kids from Guilford and Roland Park gave up the opportunity to go to tony private schools for the chance to study their art with kids from the O'Donnell Heights projects, North Avenue and Hamilton. Not only did we study together, we hung out together as well. The only social class there was the artist class. If only all public schools were that way.

Had I not been accepted to the School for the Arts, however, my plan was to go to Mervo for a cosmetology degree, and I would have gotten in special effects makeup for film, or perhaps hair dressing and makeup. I now work as a film professional in set dressing and props, so my path to adult responsibility was already somewhat thought out.

This came from my parents. We were always taken to see theater, to museums, and taught that a library was a cool place to hang out (especially in summer).

Basically, my point is that the schooling starts at home. Your parents, or other authority figures, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, all teach you what is important in life and that the quest for knowledge is one of the most important quests you are on in this life, and that quest indeed lasts a lifetime.

The schools teach you the skills for this quest.

It is my hope that kids attending public schools now can get out of it what I did -- 12 pretty darn productive years.

Elizabeth Bell

Baltimore

Swans' Ways

Mute swans who are indigenous to Europe are beautiful, white, majestic animals. Some years ago somebody introduced them to the Chesapeake Bay. Pretty as they are, they present a danger to the ecological balance of the Chesapeake Bay. They consume large amounts of aquatic vegetation (four to eight pounds a day each), grazing and uprooting underwater plants up to four feet deep.

This often has a negative impact upon other fish and wildlife species (soft crabs, rock fish) that depend on these grasses for food or shelter.

They number now by the thousands, and since they don't have natural enemies, they have increased immensely in numbers in the past few years.

If some method were not found soon to stop this expansion of these birds, this state will have to start importing soft crabs and rock fish from other states.

S. Shpak

Baltimore

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