Stear clear of latest fads when teaching our children
Craig Schulze is right in his Opinion Commentary ("Reflection on blur of teaching trends," June 3), regarding the many problems faced by teachers today. Some of the problems I have noticed during my work with the legislature include:
Methods such as whole language instruction being forced on teachers even though there is little or no evidence that they work well.
"Specialists" who are no longer in the classroom using intimidation -- I call it the "mean teacher look" -- to get teachers to comply with their wishes.
Many good teachers often give up and go elsewhere.
We should demand that new approaches to instruction are well-researched and proven valid before we buy into them.
Research showing the actual results of new teaching methods is not only necessary to provide a baseline with which to measure teachers' and students' progress, but should be required before anyone attempts to install them in our schools.
The writer represents Anne Arundel County in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Online support groups can provide comfort
The article "Computer networks of concern" (May 24), hit close to home. There are many support groups that have been developed online. They can be life-savers and valuable sources of information and support.
Almost a year ago, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Pemphigus Vulgaris. Fear and anger do not begin to describe how I felt, and still feel at times. I was lucky to find the Pemphigus Foundation on the Internet as quickly as I did. It helps to know that there are others to whom I can turn, who are sharing similar experiences.
As a social worker, I have experienced the value of support and information for myself and others. Support groups offered through the Internet are an important resource for people who might otherwise be isolated.
Too many invitations to nation's debt party
The reporter who wrote the front-page story on bankruptcy ("Bill targets credit debt") and the cartoonist who draws the "Tommy" cartoon were definitely on the same wavelength when they wrote their respective pieces (June 7).
Each week, I receive several pre-approved applications for credit cards in the mail, plus a telephone call or two on the same subject. If the credit card companies and banks that are sending me these applications knew that I no longer work full-time and have only a part-time job and do not draw Social Security benefits yet, they wouldn't be sending me these "invitations." Or, would they?
Donna S. Orwig
Showed poor taste calling Heston 'craggy'
The editorial about the National Rifle Association, of which I am not a member, and its new president, Charlton Heston, is in very poor taste when you have to resort to name-calling, describing his face as "craggy" and mentioning his "good diction" ("In new role, Heston sticks to his guns, June 9).
It seems to me that a paper that is all for diversity and multiculturalism, would have room for a white male, with good diction, no matter his facial expressions.
Children are suffering without their parents
I feel sorry for the children described in Susan Reimer's article "The Juggling Act" (June 3). These children are suffering because both parents have chosen to work outside of the home.
It's hard to believe that these couples, who are highly educated and who have careers in medicine, law, hospital administration and the like, cannot figure out a way to live on one income.
I left a successful career because my husband and I believe that our children need and deserve the nurturing that only a parent can provide. The couples in Ms. Reimer's story have chosen to live frenzied lives. They need to separate need from greed and figure out how to provide a calmer family life for their children.
Maureen M. Larkin
Zinman's BSO tenure will not be forgotten
It was a distinct pleasure to be present June 6 for one of David Zinman's final concerts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The playing was inspired and filled Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with the lustrous sound that has become the orchestra's hallmark.
Although I left Baltimore in 1974 to attend college and now live in Philadelphia, I have followed the orchestra's fortune closely over the years, attending concerts when I could and collecting many of the orchestra's magnificent recordings. It is sad to see Maestro Zinman departing. His distinguished tenure will not be quickly forgotten.
It is heartening to know that Baltimore had the foresight to invite a world-class American-born conductor to lead its orchestra to international renown.
Dr. Robert M. Kaiser
Pledge of Allegiance part of our obligation
Gregory Kane exaggerates the obligations of his fellow citizens to serve the desires of people like the San Diego school girl who refuses to recite the Pledge of Allegiance ("Liberty, justice for all pledge not reality," June 3).
And he feels that people who enjoy the imperfect blessing of the United States have no reciprocal obligations of basic commitment to the common cause.
The distinguishing feature of the rotting culture of the United States is a spreading expectation that all our needs and whims will be fulfilled for us by others.
Citizens are fallible human beings. Our overall well-being depends upon our individual contributions to justice and material plenty.
Harford picked best site for senior-youth center
In Harford County, we have proposed an innovative facility that will combine our Bel Air Senior Center and the Bel Air Youth Center while balancing environmental concerns. This project will provide additional services to two important segments of the population while enhancing the environmental science program at the Bel Air schools.
The senior center in Bel Air has outgrown its facility. Because of overcrowding, classes must be held at satellite locations to accommodate the number of senior adults who want to participate in activities. Harford's senior population has doubled since 1992 and will continue to grow. We must be prepared to meet its needs.
Also, the Bel Air Youth Activities Council is looking for a new home for the youth center now located in the basement of a former church. A feasibility study conducted in 1997 determined that the facility was inadequate and recommended a new facility. This comprehensive study, conducted by an independent consultant with input from a 12-person task force, considered more than 30 sites before narrowing the selection to three preferred sites.
After an investigation into possible locations for these separate facilities, it became clear that one well-planned facility located in Bel Air could meet the needs of both groups more efficiently and effectively. The youth center feasibility study recommended a portion of the Board of Education property on MacPhail road, now referred to as Wakefield Woods.
The Harford County Board of Education agreed that the project had great merit. The board asked to become part of the project by initially planning two pre-kindergarten classrooms in the facility.
The proposed joint-use facility would encompass about 25,000 square feet, requiring between three and four acres of the 10-acre Wakefield Woods parcel. This is the same parcel that had been considered for a new Bel Air branch library and the Board of Education's Administration Center. Its zoning would allow construction of up to 140 townhouses.
The Wakefield Woods site has many attributes. It is centrally located, which would maximize access and minimize travel distances and costs. Since it is publicly owned land, there are reduced costs to the taxpayers. Parking needs are reduced by sharing the nearby Motor Vehicle Administration's facility parking, lessening the requirements for blacktop on the wooded site.
We propose to develop an environmentally sensitive plan that would preserve the remaining six acres of woodland through a perpetual conservation easement connected to the nearby 92-acre school campus. A reforestation plan would be developed with environmental instructors and their students, and new wetlands, meadows and woodlands would be created.
We need this facility, and we need to protect the environment. This project at this location will do that.
Eileen M. Rehrmann
The writer is Harford County executive.
No proof soup kitchen spurs downtown crime
Some restraint and more research is needed in the debate over relocating Our Daily Bread. For example, it is repeatedly stated that the area has a high incidence of car break-ins and petty crime, for which the clients are to blame.
The Sun said so in its editorial ("The future of Our Daily Bread," June 7), and it was repeated by Laurie Schwartz in her Opinion Commentary article ("Our Daily Bread patrons need much more than a good meal," June 8). It would be helpful if The Sun could obtain and publish statistics that might support that assertion. I am a neighbor of Our Daily Bread, my observation has not shown that to be the case.
What makes it the assertion more difficult to accept, is that the meal served is at midday, not known for high-crime time. Patrons of Our Daily Bread do not carry the necessary tools to break and enter. Also, it is not my observation that patrons are in the area from dawn to dusk.
Clearly the Enoch Pratt Free Library has a problem, and some parishioners of the Basilica find the poor on the street. It is not a pleasant experience to be asked for change. Those of us who live in the neighborhood are frequently subject to being panhandled. But to imply that the Walters, Peabody, the School for the Art and even Center Stage are somehow related to this question, obscures rather than clarifies.
Also there is scant evidence that potential customers are frightened from Charles Street. If these potential customers never become actual, no one will ever know why they stayed away. Further, it is at least questionable that any homeless who do appear on Charles Street will be moved by moving their daily bread.
What is at issue is that Charles Street should be doing better and is not. To suggest that the million or more residents of the area do not eat out more often on Charles street because many of the poverty-stricken are eating at Our Daily Bread is opinion and emotion, not fact or reason.
George E. Brown
I was very disturbed by Laurie Schwartz' Opinion Commentary ("Our Daily Bread patrons need much more than a good meal," June 8).
These patrons are human. They have feelings. They need to eat. Besides, not all of them commit crimes. How many automobile break-ins were there, anyway?
The article seemed empathetic at times, but stated, "aggressive panhandling, public urination and intimidation give school students and parishioners reason for concern."
Well, it's one thing to voice concern for a situation, but it's another thing to come up with an answer. A little bit of food and socialization may be the only thing these people look forward to.
Nuclear hypocrisy over India, Pakistan
It is ironic that the five nuclear powers met in Geneva to pass judgment on two non-nuclear powers who just happen to have nuclear bombs ("Nuclear powers move to stop India-Pakistan arms escalation, June 5).
It is particularly ironic that China, which has contributed deliberately and significantly to the Pakistani nuclear program, chaired the meeting. It is time for the hypocrisy to cease.
None of the nuclear powers or, for that matter, non-nuclear powers such as Japan and Australia, which are covered by the American nuclear umbrella, have any moral grounds for demanding that other countries not pursue their own self-interest, as they see it.
If nuclear bombs are bad for India and Pakistan, they are equally bad for the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France and China.
Rule change would hurt patients on transplant list
The article ("Health, federal officials debate organ donor protocol," May 30), on organ transplantation and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' regulations may have left some misimpressions.
United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) is the private community organization contracted by the federal government to make national rules and run allocations. It represents patients, professionals, the public and the federal government.
The public is served by a fair and effective system through UNOS, and the vast majority of the transplant community is in favor of the present rules and process for evolutionary improvement, with appropriate government oversight.
Neither the citizens of Maryland nor the country will benefit from a rapid, ill-conceived change produced by political pressure from a few.
The current rules developed by UNOS are balanced, with local use of organs to provide local availability of life-saving treatment but sufficient wider sharing to provide a good availability for sicker patients. We have a system that saves the most lives year after year, and it is continually evolving to improve fairness and effectiveness.
A few centers have attempted to divert organs to their patients from other patients in need in other programs. The process has thus turned political. Individuals connected with a few centers attempt to subvert the national system.
HHS regulations seem to bow to this political pressure, including provisions to remove the process from community control at the secretary's whim. This results in the danger of a change for the worse, with no chance for community redress.
UNOS has made major strides in finding the best way to compare waiting times for transplants and to expand sharing for the sickest. The recent controversy is slowing the implementation of these improvements, which would help patients across the country.
The regulations lopsidedly declare that waiting time, particularly for the sickest patients, be the major factor in allocation. It is clear from the studies that this would result in more deaths than the present balanced system because these sickest patients have poorer results and would require more transplants.
The transplant community will continue to support changes that will improve the net benefits to patients, but the regulations do not contain such a proposal. Patients will be best served if UNOS is supported in continuing to search for improved ways to do this.
Dr. James F. Burdick
Dr. William A. Baumgartner
Dr. Andrew S. Klein
The writers are director of surgical management, cardiac surgeon-in-charge and director of Johns Hopkins Medicine's Comprehensive Transplant Center.
Pub Date: 6/13/98