Sauerbrey comments praised and pannedHurrah for gubernatorial...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Sauerbrey comments praised and panned

Hurrah for gubernatorial candidate. Ellen R. Sauerbrey. She calls for withholding state education aid to local schools if they fail to crack down on disruptive students.

I would go one step further. Parents of disruptive students should be fined or made to pay extra local or state taxes. After all, every time a teacher takes time away from teaching students who want to learn, taxpayer money is wasted.

Students can't learn in a disruptive classroom. To handle troublesome, interrupting youngsters takes plenty of individual or small-group supervision or counseling and that costs the taxpayer money, money, money.

This week over National Public Radio, a violent, angry student was taped having a hot confrontation with the vice-principal of Northern High School, for all nationwide listeners to hear. No wonder there were so many suspensions at Northern. This nasty-mouthed student should have been suspended on the spot.

Unfortunately, there are far too many Baltimore City schools that are a shameful blight on our fair city. Thank goodness, we can be proud of our Baltimore Symphony, our Orioles and our beautiful Inner Harbor.

Ruth Von Bramer

Randallstown

On Nov. 26, gubernatorial candidate Ellen Sauerbrey said she would seek authority to withhold state education aid from local systems that fail to crack down on disruptive students.

Most of her 19-point agenda dealt with discipline issues along with some phonics instruction. Sounds great, but all this only treats the symptoms of anti-social behavior.

Ms. Sauerbrey totally ignores the fact that one third of the kids in Baltimore City grow up in poverty. Is she aware of the rage and despair that deprived kids feel when they see no light at the end of their tunnel? When they are bombarded by TV plugging stuff they can never afford? When there are no safety nets to catch them when the obscene welfare "reform" package bounces them into the streets?

How can a child pay attention in school when he is kept up all the previous night in a homeless shelter? Children in homeless shelters cannot afford morals.

Poverty breeds bad behavior. What is the excuse for the behavior of Ms. Sauerbrey when she never speaks about economic justice, decent jobs that pay living wages, affordable day care, affordable housing, universal health care and state-operated drug rehabilitation programs and recreation centers?

If Ellen Sauerbrey makes it to Annapolis, don't hold your breath.

Gerald Ben Shargel

Reisterstown

Race track would benefit the county

Maryland governments provided millions of dollars for roads and support for three sports stadiums that brought the state back to where it was roughly in 1983. But with the opportunity to be a part of the growth sport of the 1990s, big time oval-track racing, the various governments are little more than passive observers.

Every study has shown that the proposed Maryland track would be the most accessible in the country. It would bring in real jobs, money and international awareness to the area.

Race track aside, Route 43 should have been extended years ago. It will open a section of the county that needs to participate in growth. Extending 43 will ease congestion on other roads.

There is concern about noise from a track. Personally, I would rather hear the occasional excitement of the sport than the present silence of an area dying of governmental apathy.

J. A. Martin

Baltimore

Railroad monuments are worth preserving

Your Nov. 27 editorial on railroad preservation in Maryland, while focusing on memorabilia, suggests a need to preserve important structures as well.

Museums based on historic sites, such as Mt. Clare, home of Baltimore's B&O; Railroad Museum and the Ellicott City Station, afford the opportunity to admire the "package" as well as the "gifts" inside.

There is another type of structure equally deserving of recognition and preservation -- the engineering masterpieces of the B&O;'s contribution to the American industrial revolution. The Patapsco Heritage Greenway Committee, with support from CSX Corp., is developing an interpretive "park" to view the 1835 Thomas Viaduct in Relay.

This bridge is a testament to the ingenuity and faith of architect Benjamin H. Latrobe Jr. and his B&O; associates from the board of directors to the stonemasons and "common" (in name only) laborers.

As a matter of clarification, the Ellicott City Station was opened in 1831, not 1830. It still claims the distinction as America's oldest and the world's second oldest surviving railroad station. The Liverpool Road Station in Manchester, England, is thought to be the world's first.

The Ellicott City Station restoration mentioned in your editorial includes reconstruction of the origional engine repair facility (which will become a "working" shop), its doorway and the 1863 turntable platform.

aul S. Bridge

Ellicott City

Margarine has lowered fat

The Sun reported on new research about trans fat ("Stick margarine and shortening are threat to heart, study shows," Nov. 20). This research reflected consumption of foods prior to 1991.

Consumers may be misled to believe this study represents today's margarine products. Nothing could be further from the facts.

Since 1980, the average fat content of margarine products has been reduced by 30 percent. While the total fat content has decreased, so has saturated and trans fat.

But there is even better news for consumers. Soft and liquid margarines that dominate today's margarine category are low in trans fat or are trans fat-free. Even trans-free stick margarine is now available.

The new research revealed that polyunsaturated fat, found in high levels in margarine, protects against heart disease. Therefore, are margarine products heart-healthy?

While this new research can't tell us, because it evaluated only specific fats and not individual foods, seven recent studies, involving more than 70,000 people, show margarine products, especially the softer varieties, are a heart-healthy choice.

The American Heart Association and others continue to tell us to lower total fat and saturated fat in our diet. That is precisely the advice margarine makers have been following as they continue to improve their products to meet consumers' needs.

Margarine is still the best choice.

Sue Taylor

Washington

The writer is dietitian for the National Association of Margarine Manufacturers.

Mathematics curriculum is equal problem

"Reading by 9" series deserves an award. The response from the community has been overwhelming, the discussions active, the action by state Superintendent Nancy Grasmick wonderful. Thank you.

Now I challenge The Sun to resubmit this series of articles but change the word "reading" to "math" and "whole-language to "critical thinking." You will find the identical problems with the Maryland state math curriculum.

I hired a tutor this summer to teach my fourth-grader multiplication skills, but found she did not even know her basic addition facts or how to tell time.

Jolie McShane

Reisterstown

Remember the Met, restore Hippodrome

Many thanks are due Fred Rasmussen for his outstanding Nov. 30 "Remember when" column, "Talkies came to the Metropolitan," on one of our city's former cultural treasures -- the magnificent Metropolitan Theater, the Met.

It should have been noted that the Met's first-run policy extended through its later use as a black movie house. The Met, along with the Regent and Royal theaters, brought together members of the African-American community during Baltimore's infamous period of racial segregation.

Isn't it time for the mayor and his council to finally make good on their promise to restore, and to return to the entire population, the majestic Hippodrome theater before total decay leads to its demise? Let's hope for an immediate renewal of the Eutaw Street corridor.

Anthony A. Cacossa

Baltimore

Proficiency tests help students, schools improve performance

In the realm of public education, as with so many other parts of society, the "means" often become more of an issue than the "end." Such is the case with the tough new high school tests proposed by State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick to improve student performance.

Dr. Grasmick recently presented the Maryland State Board of Education with two recommendations: these proficiency tests become graduation requirements for Maryland students as early 2004, and these tests be phased in gradually, rather than launched all at once. The board will vote on these recommendations at its Dec. 9-10 meeting.

Most Marylanders have told us they want to improve the performance of our high school students and better prepare our graduates for life after high school. Surveys indicate that most of us agree on the need to hold students to high standards. We agree on what we want for our children.

While most of us agree about the need for high standards, many of us may have different ideas of how to achieve that goal.

I do not believe that the skills and knowledge a student must possess in order to graduate can be squeezed into one test or series of tests. Graduation is the accumulation of an academic career of accomplishments rather than a single test or achievement. It has never been the board's position nor the position of Dr. Grasmick or the Maryland State Department of Education that any high school test become the sole determining factor on whether or not a student graduates.

However, we must begin to create a more responsive school system -- one that provides an education and diploma that will serve our children well in a challenging world. The state board's job is to see that they receive that high-level preparation.

While some worry about making tests a graduation requirement, there is precedent. The Maryland Functional Tests, developed in the 1970s to measure students' mastery of fundamental mathematics, reading, writing and citizenship skills, have been a graduation requirement for many years. When they were developed and phased in to Maryland's high schools, some warned they would prevent many students from graduating. Today, nearly every Maryland student passes the Functional Tests with little problem.

Some people believe that the tests -- which have not yet been developed, much less administered to students -- will rob students of the opportunity to move on in school and graduate. I believe the tests would do precisely the opposite. Through the high school assessments, we have the opportunity to improve the chances that our children will succeed. By passing a rigorous series of high school tests, the skills that Maryland students will have mastered would compare favorably with students in high-performing schools across the nation and around the world -- the same people who will compete for jobs with our own children.

We owe it to our children and to the state to continue the process begun more than two years ago by the state board and Dr. Grasmick. We should carefully and wisely consider these high school assessments as one tool among many that we as educators, parents, and a community of Marylanders have to improve our schools and our students' performance.

We must not hurry the process. We must reject unsound ideas and move ahead cautiously with good ones. We must not allow partisan issues to cloud our deliberations of this important step in high school improvement.

Rose LaPlaca

Baltimore

The writer is president of Maryland State Board of Education.

Skyscraper hotel plan criticized by readers

Judging from The Sun's reports, the City Council seems intent upon abdicating its responsibility as a governing body in any issues related to the proposed Wyndham Hotel.

This apparent nonfeasance is perplexing and begs the question of whether council members are being improperly swayed to neglect their responsibilities. In order to clear the air, council members should make clear to the public whether financial influence has been brought to bear on their decision-making.

I have asked City Council President Lawrence Bell and the rest of the council to answer the following questions for the public: Have you accepted political contributions from John Paterakis? If so, in what amount?

Have you accepted political contributions from any individual or organization representing the gambling industry? If so, from whom, and in what amount?

We deserve to know what is really going on behind this seemingly insane process.

Jon K. Ayscue

Baltimore

One watches with intense interest as members of our City Council struggle with a decision concerning the Wyndham Hotel.

It might serve them well to recall the farsighted observation of architect Mies van der Rohe, "Less is more."

Tylden W. Streett

Baltimore

I appreciate your articles concerning the Wyndham boondoggle. clearly violates the master plan.

As a taxpayer, I am upset that this proposal has been allowed to come this far. It should have been rejected when its violation of the master plan was first noted.

The master plan should not be amended to accommodate this monster.

O. E. (Gene) Carson

Baltimore

The worst building ever proposed for Baltimore. Out-of-site, wrong location.

Scarlett Place condominiums, at an average height of 15 stories, is bulky and overpowering. But at least you can look down and round it and see the harbor and the Rusty Scupper and the Science Center beyond it.

At more than than three times the height of Scarlett Place, the Wyndham Hotel, rising some 50-plus floors, counting mechanical penthouses on the roof, would cause as much damage to the Inner Harbor, Little Italy, Fells Point and Baltimore as a whole as the proposal some 40 years ago for a 12-16-lane drawbridge to carry I-95 through Federal Hill and across the Inner Harbor.

Has everyone in positions of civic trust and leadership lost their minds, been co-opted or bought off?

Harvey Schwartz

Baltimore

Thank you for your editorials of Nov. 23 and 25 urging the City Council to not give away its oversight authority.

As a resident of the Fells Point area who has recently finished the complete renovation of my home, I also urge the members of the City Council to stand firm against pressures from the administration to assure that any development in the Inner Harbor East is to the benefit of the residents of Baltimore.

As an architect and urban planner, I know that there is more than one way to solve a problem. I find that the developers of the proposed Wyndham Hotel and their architects are quite arrogant.

I hope the City Council will send the developers and their architects back to the drawing boards to come up with plans for a viable project within the current urban design regulations of the Inner Harbor East.

Robert Olsen

Baltimore

Remember reason for the season

The front-page Nov. 29 article, "On your mark, get set, buy up those bargains," was a sad commentary no how Christmas has been reduced to a frenzied shopping spree. With not one mention of the reason for the season, we were treated to consumers telling us how, after willingly rising before dawn, they rushed to stand in line to be the first in a store offering the biggest bargains.

We are teaching our children that Christmas is a two-month search for the perfect present for everyone on the list. Now, long before Halloween, stores begin decorating for yuletide. Toys 'R Us even omits Santa, feeding into a child's greed by passing out scanners to let the gift-givers know exactly what they want.

Newspaper articles give us advice on how to relieve the stress of frantic holidays, made so because Christmas has become commercialized beyond belief. Our youngsters have come to believe they deserve the best, trendiest, most expensive gifts advertised. Few of us shop for the joy of buying something for someone we love.

We often wish for an old-fashioned Christmas, but, as the Nov. 29 article pointed out, more than ever we continue to focus on shopping instead of sharing the spirit of the season.

Perhaps in the midst of all our buying, wrapping and mailing, we could take just a few moments to slip into a church and kneel before a manger scene to remember what we're celebrating. A (( brief prayer of thanks for all the riches in life that need no gift-wrap would be the most precious gift of all.

Cooky McClung

Betterton

Pub Date: 12/06/97

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