Public schools are for everyone
I agree with Ronald J. Valenti, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, who said in a Dec. 9 letter ("Catholics students deserve basic services") that "there are basic services that all children deserve as equal members of society."
I believe, however, that we meet our obligation of being fair and just to all when we provide a public school system that is open to all children without discrimination.
When Mr. Valenti claims that the issue is not about religion, indoctrination or undermining public education, I could not disagree more.
How can anyone seriously believe that Catholic schools do not exist primarily for the purpose of religious education or indoctrination of the young and that taxpayer funding of such schools would not undermine the public school system by leaving the latter with a reduction in both funding and students?
So what if some non-Catholics are permitted to attend Catholic schools in Baltimore? There is not, and cannot be under our Constitution, a law requiring that those schools be open to all children and (unlike our public schools) they are wholly free to pick and choose from among applicants as they see fit. It's a lot easier to have schools that are regarded as good when you can do that.
If parents want to ensure that their children partake equally in the services provided by their tax money (and that of non-parents), all they have to do is send their children to our public schools.
If, on the other hand, they want something they perceive to be "better" for their children and send them to a religious school, then they should not expect the rest of us to involuntarily subsidize that choice. Responsible people pay their own bills for their own choices.
Kenneth A. Stevens
Teacher insulted by bias charges
I have been a "non-minority" teacher in Baltimore County schools for the past 26 years. Many of my colleagues and I are highly insulted by the accusations of racism made by Robert Dashiell, a school board member.
The time for such reckless and baseless charges has long since passed.
Unfortunately this outrageous attempt to pin blame on white teachers is reinforced by black administrators like Evelyn Chatmon, who imply that black students' failure to achieve is caused by low expectations for black students by white teachers.
Both conclusions are absurd.
The truth is more difficult to face.
If Mr. Dashiell or Ms. Chatmon were working with the Baltimore City system, would they -- could they -- make the same claims for responsibility for the failure in achievement? I think not.
Teachers and administrators in Baltimore County do operate on a double standard, however. We are far more likely to be lenient with a black student than a white student. We are more likely to include borderline black students in gifted programs than we are white students. In short, we bend over backward for fear of being called the "r" word.
The truth is that people like Mr. Dashiell and Ms. Chatmon are part of the problem, not part of the solution. They encourage less effort by giving the same lame message to blacks: "It's not your fault; it's those racist whites."
What a formula for failure!
David G. O'Neill
NSA series betrayed secrets
The series of articles on the National Security Agency has given the world the key to our country. U.S. allies, as well as nations with which we do not agree politically, certainly do appreciate this information.
Iran, Iraq, Libya, our former Cold War enemies, Afghanistan, Algeria and so on will take this information and uncover our most precious secrets even further. We know you didn't spill all the beans. However, enough escaped to start a trail of widespread intelligence disasters -- as well as terrorism.
Should ignore the flag burners
Now we retrace our steps and revisit the flag burning issue and hear all over again arguments on both sides, stretched to extremes. There is no (and should not be any) argument that flag burning as a means of expression is constitutionally correct. Although, as a reminder of my rights, I find it a vulgarity that I do not need.
Yesterday, I saw on television some old scenes of flag burning. It is clear that these people are incapable of finding a more intelligent, original or elegant way to express themselves.
So they burn a flag. Most of the time we do not know what they are protesting and it is doubtful that they know. But I am afraid they relish all the attention given to them and the furor they create.
So why not just ignore them and let them play their little games. Soon they may get rid of that or they may grow up. Whichever comes first.
Peter C. Sotiriou
Brodie gets things done
For Jay Brodie, "ivory tower" is no more than an architectural apparition requiring design review. Welcome home to "hands on" and to getting things done once again.
Mary Pat Clarke
Real help for Patterson Park
I would like to commend and criticize you for your Nov. 26 article about the Patterson Park neighborhoods.
Commendation is in order because you bring to light in a factual way a subject that has been very destructive to our neighborhoods: management of the Section 8 program. Even more important is the attention that the article has elicited from Baltimore's civic leaders, especially Housing Commissioner Daniel Henson.
On the critical side, the article paints too bleak a picture of the community as one in trouble, whose primary, and perhaps only, resource is its residents' willingness to fight back.
The fact is that our community has been attracting increasing, tangible resources, including those of Baltimore City, the primary funder of the Patterson Park Neighborhoods Initiative.
Besides community organizing and fighting bad landlords,the initiative, with the help of non-profit partners like Neighborhood Housing Services, is creating substantial numbers of new homeowners and providing funds to increasing numbers of residents to rehab existing properties. Home sales are increasing and "For Sale" signs are coming down.
Additionally, we are attracting the very real resources of local foundations and financial institutions to fund critical community-building projects.
We are working with the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, which are now on the verge of a major homeownership creation " project that we call "Live Near Your Work." There are also efforts under way to establish a Community Development Bank for East Baltimore.
Spirit is critical, but real help makes it work. And real help, like Jim Haner's article that exposes our nemeses, is growing.
The writer coordinates the Patterson Park Neighborhoods Initiative.
Don't stop with Harborplace
Harborplace needs refurbishing and the Rouse Company is asking the City of Baltimore for $7 million. My house also needs some repair work. I wonder what would be the best time to see Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to ask him for money for my repairs?