What's next? General Motors' Grand Canyon?An article...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

What's next? General Motors' Grand Canyon?

An article in The Sun May 3 bore the headline, "Howard may sell name rights for parks," gave me the shivers. Yet when I raised the subject with acquaintances I was even more shocked: Most told me they didn't really care nor understand my question. What has our society come to? What does naming a park for a company say about our culture and values?

We are collectively referred to as "the American consumer," rather than as "the American citizenry" (or other appropriate term). Consumption and corporations making money (in this case, communities selling their identities to corporations) seem to be the primary motivators of an entire nation. Many of our sports stadium names carry corporate sponsorships, bringing us one step closer to the world of the 1975 film "Rollerball."

Set in the 21st century, it had huge transnational corporations ruling all aspects of life and sports.

Will we soon have our children asking to go see the General Motors Grand Canyon?

Michael Greenman

Ellicott City

Head-wrap article was off the mark

The May 10 article in The Sun in Howard by the Rev. Robert A. F. Turner about the history of African-American clothing was interesting, but otherwise irrelevant to the recent controversy surrounding Shermia Isaacs. The major flaw in Mr. Turner's analysis is that, unlike the law of 18th century South Carolina, no suggestion has been made that the Howard County dress code provide one set of rules for African-American students and a different set for everybody else.

I'm incensed that Howard County taxpayers have had to spend a small fortune to defend a race-neutral school dress code just because some people are more interested in making some kind of misdirected statement than they are in education.

I'm further incensed that the school board provided an in-home teacher for Ms. Isaacs, who chose not to go to school, when much more pressing needs face our schools.

James D. Walsh

Columbia

Wave of students justifies new school

The May 11 editorial, "Why Ecker resists new school," notes that the recent lower-than-predicted rate of home construction in Howard might help to explain County Executive Charles I. Ecker's opposition to building another high school.

While home construction, primarily in southern Howard with three mixed-use districts planned, is certainly a key factor fueling the need for a new high school, an even stronger indicator is the tidal wave of students rolling through Howard elementary and middle schools.

This is because of the building boom of the 1980s and early '90s and the continued attraction of Howard County to families with school-age children.

School officials want to build a high school before the current high schools are drowned in waves of students that even more portable classrooms and additions can't contain.

Anne M. Darr

Clarksville

Archiving Columbia's brushes with royalty

A royal welcome will await the Queen of Soul and her appearance at the Columbia Festival of the Arts, but avid royal watchers and longtime Columbians will remember that this is not the first time Columbia "had the honor of playing host to royalty," as noted in "Aretha Franklin to star at festival" (April 17).

On April 6, 1976, Columbia hosted Sweden King Carl XVI Gustaf. According to the Baltimore Evening Sun the next day, the monarch was interested in touring Columbia because Sweden had a history of involvement with planned towns.

The king was escorted through the young city by Columbia's founder James Rouse, Gov. Marvin Mandel, Columbia Association President Padraic Kennedy and others during his visit.

Columbia's history is rich and is being carefully preserved and exhibited by The Columbia Archives, a service of the Columbia Association.

Barbara Kellner

Columbia

The writer is director of the Columbia Archives. School board budget deliberations, normally a dreary affair for me, were enlivened two weeks ago by an outpouring of bona fide concern on the part of parents, teachers and Howard County businesses. A long list of earnest speakers shared their views.

From the precocious grade-schoolers to the impassioned pleas of Del. Frank Turner until the morning hours when the sound reasoning of county hospital President Victor Broccolino could finally be heard, one knowing voice after another joined in the effort to maintain the excellence of our schools.

Superintendent Michael Hickey was right to raise the alarm.

I am quiet pleased that The Sun reports a rethinking of the budget in favor of the children.

I am proud of all the citizens who let their council persons know their feelings.

It illustrates for the students especially that people are the real force in government and that this participatory form of democracy we often take for granted needs a little exercise now and then to keep in shape.

John J. Snyder

Columbia

Task force takes high road on proposal

During the Howard County Council capital budget hearing on April 21, one of the leaders of those opposed to the Hale Haven-to-Doncaster connection publicly challenged the integrity of a council member for supporting the task force recommendation.

The other council members proceeded with the hearing in a professional manner.

Throughout the debate, the pro-task force leaders have always taken the high road, methodically staying with the facts.

During the hearing, when an opposition speaker recommended that only a part of the recommendation be implemented, it was a majority task force member who assisted by holding the dissenters' map even though she disagreed with what was being said.

When those opposed to the Hale Haven connection retained an influential Republican attorney to fight their cause, there were no cries of indignation that the process was being politicized.

We know that the council members will make their decision based on the facts, and not on outside pressures.

They have a no-win decision to make. We know that they will do it in an ethical manner.

Herman Baker

Irene Baker

Ellicott City

Paperwork mixup leaves student as the scapegoat

Our daughter, a senior at Atholton High, is a four-year honor roll student, two-year junior ROTC student, two-year junior varsity softball player (captain, second year), JV and varsity cheerleader, two-year varsity softball player (varsity team captain, second year) and varsity boys' basketball co-manager.

Her awards at the school include: Military Excellence Award, ARC Award for Achievement, most valuable player for softball in 1996 and most improved cheerleader in 1997.

One week before the end of the softball season and three weeks from graduation, the walls of this exemplary four-year structure came falling down around her.

Because of an anonymous phone call to a rival high school (whose team was knocked out of first place by our daughter's team), a paperwork administrative error at the beginning of her junior year was used as justification to deem her to be an "ineligible player" for the 1997 season.

Because it was never discovered for that season, she was ineligible for the 1998 season and "suspended from participation for the next 60 days."

She was not allowed to join her teammates on the field for the upcoming playoffs. To say she was devastated is an understatement.

Our daughter was enrolled her first year of high school as an out-of-district student because she wanted to take Junior ROTC like her brother (who is now in the Air Force). After her sophomore year, she decided not to continue in JROTC.

She asked if she could change her schedule. Because the high school was changing to "open enrollment," she would be able to continue there.

During open enrollment, if a new student is enrolled out of district, they are unable to play sports for that year.

When the question came up, she was advised by a guidance counselor that she was a current student and, therefore, should not have a problem. Sounded logical. (A waiver for sports was requested and approved at the beginning of her freshman year.)

For the next two years she continued to attend school, study hard, play softball and make her mark. Then came the call last week which was placed at the most strategic time to benefit the rival high school.

Now, because we did not request a waiver two years ago, which we certainly would have done had we been told, she has to suffer. She is the one who has worked so hard.

I went in her defense to the Howard County Department of Education to request that it reconsider because of the extenuating circumstances. Also it was obvious that there was no deception or intention on her part or the high school's.

The county athletic director acknowledged he saw no proof of intention. To my shock, I was told nothing could be done to change it, because it would set a precedent.

We understand the purpose for rules and policies to punish those who abuse the system. However, there needs to be a change to protect the innocent student when it can be proven that an honest mistake occurred.

There are coaches in this county who put winning above the feelings of the students, no matter the cost. It sickens me that these bureaucrats can claim they do their jobs with the child as the No. 1 priority, but in the same breath say, "I can't help you."

What's wrong with this picture? And how do we absorb her pain?

Glenn Porter

Columbia

Pub Date: 5/24/98

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