Laws won't curb teen smoking, but parents can
It seems to me that this recent publicized outpouring of concern for children who smoke (The Sun, Aug. 10) is just another one of those moral crusades proposed by the federal government that we must undergo every now and then. But the approach that is being heralded as the solution, a reduction in advertising and availability, is exactly the wrong method.
First of all, many people smoke without it resulting in a deadly disease. Why don't we find out why smoking has different effects on different people's health? Obviously booze causes health problems in many people, but should the same rules be applied to it as well? Some alcohol consumption is actually recommended for certain conditions.
Second, by limiting access to cigarettes among the young, we will only create a wider interest in smoking as a status symbol, much the same as we experience with drinking.
Third, tobacco companies will continue to manufacture their products for sale abroad, and an extensive black market will develop if adults refuse to supply them to kids. . . .
It seems to me that the original breakthrough in reducing smoking was the result of peer pressure. Since this is probably the main reason that youngsters begin smoking, the main emphasis should be on parents to point out the absurdities of smoking to their offspring. Unfortunately, many of today's parents show little interest in what their children do, learn or say. The task will not be an easy one, but with the smoking bans currently in place, it stands a much better chance of success that the campaign rhetoric of politicians seeking election.
R. D. Bush Columbia
School reform can't come from top down
In response to Neal R. Peirce's Sept. 11 column, "State of the Schools: Both Dire and Hopeful," the practice of local administrators directly putting in place school reforms is not really an adequate solution. This remedy doesn't address an important part of the problem: For changes to be totally successful, they must have the support of both the government (either state or local) and the teachers. For local governments to put into place "bone-jarring" reforms misses the point, especially if the method used is seizing power from an elected school board, as Mr. Peirce seems to suggest. . . . To ignore the views of teachers and students in school reforms is counterproductive. Granted, one can argue that students and parents aren't informed enough to make suggestions about school reform. Teachers, on the other hand, are another matter. These are people who work with these kids on a day-to-day basis. . . . They can personally see what and how much students are learning. Is it really fair to exclude them from this reform process?
Of course, a teacher . . . cannot be expected to always see what's best for the district or possibly even his or her school. But they have important input and if they are involved in this process, they are more likely to accept changes that come from it. If they can accept the changes, they don't have to spend time fighting them, leaving them more time and energy to teach. And teaching the students is really what it's all about, isn't it?
# Michael C. Duck Ellicott City
Don't let plan for big schools go quietly
The Howard County Board of Education is scheduled to vote Thursday on a proposal for high school additions/renovations which will increase student capacity to 1,400 or 1,600. The board and the public only received the feasibility study concerning the additions at a Sept. 14 meeting. The proposal will signal philosophical changes and require compromises in the quality of the high school experience. Yet this important decision will be made without opportunity for public discussion and input. . . . Adding classroom space for bodies is only part of the equation. Program specifications drive school design and the bigger schools being planned and built will meet those specifications. However, the renovated schools will meet the specifications only when practical. The renovation proposals add classroom seats and cafeteria seats but they do not address other core facilities: art, music, auditoriums, bathrooms, parking lots. They don't guarantee adequate science and technology facilities. They invite more equity problems and in 10 to 15 years, we will be searching for more Band-Aids and lamenting the shortsightedness of the inadequate additions/renovations.
This situation should sound strangely familiar. We are currently facing the consequences of such shortsighted bottom-line-driven elementary school decisions of 20 years ago. If high school renovations are to be done, they must be done properly and meet the necessary program specifications. Doing anything else will shortchange students and be costly to correct in the long run.
The additions/renovations are being touted as . . . saving the costs of new schools. But, in addition to providing the quality education which we value, new schools support numerous community activities. They provide central gathering places, gyms, auditoriums, cafeterias, multiple playing fields -- all of which support the quality of life and the recreation activities we -- expect. The additions/renovation plans do not support the school system as it currently works. They provide no new facilities and, in fact, they eliminate some playing fields. . . .
The issues are too important to deny full public involvement. The decision should be delayed. Register your opinion now.
Ellen Rennels Ellicott City
Calvin Klein ads or not, sex sells
The Sun recently published an article that dealt with the issue of Calvin Klein's newest ad campaign. The FBI is now investigating these ads to see if child pornography laws were broken.
Calvin Klein's clothing ads are the same as many other advertisements printed in magazines and seen on television. Many of these other ads promote smoking and drinking, yet they are not being pulled out of magazines and off the air. Like Calvin Klein, they are directed at the young people of America.
We live in a society that has let sex become the most influential aspect on the media and in advertising. It is proven that ads with sexual connotations will appeal to a broader range of people than a more conservative ad. . . .
As a former model myself, I know that if you are a minor, your parents must sign many release forms in order to have anything published. These types are what sell products, beautiful people wearing beautiful clothes.
% Lindsay von Paris Ellicott City
Marlow has law and right on side in property battle
This letter is written in response to your editorial in the Sept. 1 edition in The Sun for Howard County ("Fulton Folly"). I am the attorney representing Mr. Marlow in the processing of his application for the use of his property as mixed use under the zoning regulations.
Fortunately for the property owners in Howard County, the editor has no authority in land use in the county. The writer's cavalier attitude toward property rights is the same blindness suffered at the federal level that has spawned the strong property rights movement in the western United States, and even on Maryland's own Eastern Shore.
First, the editor bemoans the fact that Mr. Marlow's property encompasses only 31 acres. Obviously, the writer is unaware of Howard County's zoning regulations, which permit mixed use development for acreage as low as 25. Thus, if the county government agreed with the editor's analysis, it would be violating its own regulations. Such an editorial shows the freedom of expression available when the writer has no accountability or responsibility for what is said.
Second, the editor's opinion exhibits a basic disregard for a property owner's right to use his property as permitted by law. The writer states that Mr. Marlow should wait to develop his property until the neighboring Iagers are ready to proceed with the mixed-use development of their hundreds of acres.
Remarkably, the editorial writer has no qualms requiring a property owner to wait to use his property until his neighbors are ready. Just as it would be wrong to require the Iagers and other neighbors to develop their property now under mixed use because Mr. Marlow desires to utilize his property now, so is it illogical and unfair to require Mr. Marlow to wait until other neighbors are ready.
Fortunately for my client and other property owners, the county government takes its responsibility for land use more seriously than the editorial writer. Through its zoning and other regulations, the county has manifested its policies on land use. Having adopted those regulations, the county applies them in a manner consonant with property owners' rights and the policies expressed in those regulations. The county would not offer mixed use as a development option, but then withhold this from a property owner tantamount to some kind of masquerade.
Mr. Marlow has owned this property in Howard County for almost 30 years. His development proposal meets the requirements for mixed use. Rather than my client "selling his portion and getting out," as suggested in the editorial, the editorial writer, if he or she even resides in Howard County, should consider their home and getting out, to a land where property owners have no rights and the law can be disregarded at the officials' whims. The message the county needs to send is: Once the rules are set, we will not change them in midstream, and we respect the fact that property owners own their property, and not the county.
% Thomas M. Meachum Ellicott City