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The real story at Poly is high...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The real story at Poly is high standards

The account of student suspensions at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in The Sun Oct. 21 contained inaccuracies that demand clarification, for they unfairly impugn some of the best students and staff to be found in any high school, anywhere.

At no time was there ever a decision to suspend the entire senior class, as the capsule summary on Page 1B stated -- nor was there a need to.

Indeed, a hallmark of Poly students in general is their cooperativeness and ability to accept personal responsibility for their actions.

Not surprisingly, some parents and students were extremely upset at the prospect of the one-day sanctions which were imposed.

Others graciously understood and accepted the consequences as part of the school's efforts to place the highest value on instructional time, to reinforce the highest standards of individual accountability and to demonstrate that infractions of policies cannot be condoned simply because they occurred in higher than normal numbers.

Could Poly's refusal to compromise on excellence be responsible for its recent combined mean SAT score increase of 33 points to 952 (compared to a statewide average increase of 1 point to 909), or the accumulation of nearly $4 million in scholarships for our most recent graduating class of 200 students?

Perhaps this is the real story that should have been reported.

Ian Cohen

Baltimore

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The writer is director of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

Trial lawyers are adversaries

I am involved in a business that causes me to talk to a variety of lawyers all day, every day. I like lawyers. They are good people.

Peter Axelrad is a good lawyer and good person. It was distressing to see the Oct. 11 news story that told about Federal District Court Judge Frederick Motz's recent criticism of Mr. Axelrad's verbal activities in a deposition examination of an opposing party.

Mr. Axelrad is a trial lawyer. He and all trial lawyers are expected by their clients and by society to be aggressive verbal pugilists.

Civil litigation is civil in name only. It is in no way genteel. Every case is a fight. That is because civil litigation is our society's substitute for the fist fight.

Instead of disputants physically beating each other up to decide their dispute, they hire lawyers to fight it out verbally. Their lawyers' words become the substitutes for the disputants' physical aggression.

And it works. That is our system.

A result of that is that litigation often is not comfortable for the disputants. There is nothing wrong with that. They need to understand that suing, or being sued, is a very serious business.

Aggressively conducted depositions often result in out-of-court

settlements. That is good for our justice system.

The federal judge's criticism of Mr. Axelrad will, in my opinion, put an inappropriate and unfortunate chilling affect on the aggressive pre-trial examination of evidence by trial lawyers.

David Mason

Baltimore

Annoyed reader ready to explode

Implode?

The use of "implode," instead of the proper "explode," is becoming all too commonplace.

A recent Sun story regarding the "implosion" of a tank car in Louisiana is only one more instance of disregard for accuracy in speech.

Those who say, "I could care less," when they mean they "couldn't care less" are careless and annoying. But for a &L; newspaper to use "implode," when the correct term is the exact opposite "explode," merits a rap on the knuckles.

For the record:

"Implode" means to burst inward. "Explode" means to burst forth or break out suddenly.

Laughery

Brooklyn Park

Bolshoi ballet called first rate

Contrary to the article by Sonni Efron in the Oct. 16 Sun, which decried the caliber of Russia's Kirov and Bolshoi ballets, I found the performance of Bayadere outstanding, exciting and everything a Petipa classic of this nature could possibly be.

During my recent trip to Russia, I did not see the Kirov, but had a thrilling evening Sept. 16 at the Bolshoi.

This company is now under the artistic direction of the great dancer Vladimir Vasiliev, and at no time was there a ragged edge or anything but supreme dancing.

The corps de ballet was superbly trained. The elaborate scenery, fine orchestra and some updated choreography made this performance acclaimed by everyone, including Russia's foreign minister and our own Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

I have seen this ballet many times and judge it from my standpoint of having taught ballet for many years, choreographed extensively and observed a lifetime of performances. I hope the Bolshoi will continue this "era of renewal" the article spoke of and that the Kirov, too, will somehow find its way.

Harriet Sauber Eisner

Baltimore

Horse racing industry provides tax revenues

The notion that any responsible Marylander can kiss off one of the state's major industries -- horse racing and breeding -- because that industry may be in trouble is incredible to this non-Marylander who nevertheless breeds and races a small number of horses in your state.

I'm referring to proponents of casino gambling, both business people and politicians, who seem to want to put the kiss of death on one of Maryland's oldest and, frankly, most tax-lucrative businesses.

The fact is that Maryland racing is not in trouble. It's beginning to enjoy a renaissance since discovering it must keep up with high-tech developments to survive.

The recent advent of inter-track wagering and off-track betting parlors is providing the entire industry, breeding as well as racing, with a new impetus.

Timonium last month posted record-breaking sales figures of young horses; the Maryland Jockey Club recently announced a huge increase in wagering receipts; purses at Laurel and Pimlico increased in some cases by 30 percent, thus encouraging more horses to race in Maryland. This is an industry in trouble?

Thousands of employees at farms throughout the state and at stable areas in Pimlico, Bowie, Laurel and even Fair Hill are dependent upon a healthy industry for their salaries.

The tracks pay large but reasonable amounts into the state's coffers. Yet no one appears to take this enormous state revenue into account when stating the case for casinos.

Me, I'll race my horses elsewhere, if Maryland goes. But what of Maryland, if its racing industry is allowed, by narrow-minded business interests and pie-in-the-sky politicians, to collapse?

What of those thousands of Marylanders who are dependent on the industry for their livelihoods?

Does Maryland really want to replace these thousands of workers with the comparatively few eye-shaded card dealers and pit bosses?

Malcolm Barr

Alexandria, Va.

Beware of messiahs

How convenient to separate the message from the messenger.

Are we experiencing deja vu? Many people abhorred the hatred and racism that characterized Hitler, but his ideas were riveting and exhilarating to the German people in the 1930s.

Many of them must have been filled with pride. And let's not forget: Hitler created the autobahns. Hitler was the ready remedy for a defeated and demoralized people.

We should beware of "messiahs" with a palatable and evangelical solution.

Susan E. Mannion

Baltimore

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