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Fisher death reminds why child protection must...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Fisher death reminds why child protection must move 0) forward

Last year, 9-year-old Rita Fisher died after weeks of abuse and neglect. Authorities knew about the abuse. Workers testified that they followed procedures.

Several months later, Shamir Hudson died in another highly publicized case. These deaths were a painful reminder that in Maryland we still are unable to protect our most vulnerable citizens.

This year, the General Assembly passed important legislation aimed at reforming our child protective services system. Del. Maggie McIntosh introduced the Child Welfare Work Force Initiative. It was based on the simple notion that workers must be trained, competent professionals, and caseloads must be reduced to reasonable levels.

Against all odds, the legislation passed. A clear victory? One would hope. Now it is time to implement the measure, and the state has lost its gumption. A new study says the measure will cost $50 million. The state is balking, proposing a weak and limited pilot measure for $900,000 that would not even help Baltimore City, which has more than half of the state's caseload.

If you read between the lines, the state's proposal could result in a loss of existing higher skilled caseworkers in the pilot jurisdictions. It is not acceptable to gut the purpose of this legislation or to ignore the jurisdiction with the greatest need. To do so would be to compound senseless tragedy with willful neglect. Abused and neglected children deserve far better of us.

Jann Jackson

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Advocates for Children and Youth.

Baltimore City cannot afford to have another mayor like William Donald Schaefer or Kurt L. Schmoke. This city has some serious problems.

This city has one of the highest homicide rates in the country. The schools are failing, drug abuse is running rampant and the tax base is declining at an increasing rate.

We don't need a mayor who is more concerned with business interests than the plight of the city's residents. A mayor who is loyal to those he appoints -- even when they prove to be corrupt, ineffective or indifferent -- can only hurt the city.

The city's problems are too broad and far-reaching to be resolved by someone who has to worry about re-election. The office of mayor should become more of a ceremonial position. A city manager should be hired to deal with the city's growing problems. This professional would be able to make decisions to benefit the city without the distraction of politics.

Drastic measures must be taken to save this city.

Wilson N. Trueheart Jr.

Baltimore

Digging for Maryland's past revealed deep, rich roots

Frank Roylance's article "Maryland's first Baltimore" (Dec. 22) on the dig at the Aberdeen Proving Ground shows how deep and rich are the roots of Maryland history.

As the 45th rector of St. George's Episcopal Church in Perryman, I was privileged to visit the site earlier this year with my parishioner, Maj. Gen. Edward Andrews, and members of his staff to see this operation and some of the artifacts it is yielding.

Old Baltimore was a prosperous settlement, with a courthouse, a jail, a tavern, tobacco wharves and farmhouses. And religion? In the 1670s, Col. James Utie sponsored the first assembly of Christians in the upper bay area, naming it for the patron saint of England. He built a chapel about 1680 near Muddy Creek. In 1718, the parish moved to its present site inland at Perryman Road.

As we visited the probable site of the first St. George's, we could imagine hearing the first rector, the Rev. John Yeo, preaching the gospel, baptizing babies and celebrating communion more than 320 years ago.

Old Baltimore was not just about taxes and tobacco.

Philip Kingsley Smith

Towson

The writer is historiographer of the Diocese of Maryland.

Evening Sun's Talbott was the best teacher

The Sun brought a real sense of loss to me when I read about the death of Bill Talbott, long a police reporter for your newspapers ("William B. Talbott, 70, Evening Sun police reporter," Dec. 21).

When I got out of basic training in 1960, I was hired by The Sun as a police reporter. I rode with Bill Talbott on his beat, and it was an awakening for me. In a few shorts months, I learned more about the newspaper business than I have in the past 38 years.

Talbott was patient with an enthusiastic young man who had too many questions and little knowledge of the business. He showed me the ropes and guided me through the streets of Baltimore.

Talbott knew Baltimore and the police. As the obituary said, he often arrived at a crime scene before the police, and he taught me how to do that as well. He displayed integrity and an understanding of the police that has remained with me through the years. He never wanted to be anything other than a police reporter, and he was the best example any young reporter could ever have.

In those days of the early 1960s, The Sun was blessed with outstanding journalists such as Paul Banker, Buck Dorsey and Clarence Caulfield. But Bill Talbott will always remain the best journalism teacher I have ever had.

As a colunmist with the Gazette Newspapers in Frederick, I pray each day that what I produce will rise to the standards Talbott set for me long years ago. May he rest in peace.

John W. Ashbury

Walkersville I felt compelled to write about Gov. Parris N. Glendening. Although I'm thankful that I didn't vote for him, I'm stuck with him, just like those who voted for him.

Mr. Glendening has sent an in-your-face thank you to Maryland ** voters for re-electing him. First, he reneged on his campaign promise to accelerate a tax cut. Now, he rewards his political cronies with pay raises of more than 15 percent. You can bet that there's more to come. Same old governor, same old tricks.

Ron Parsons

Glen Burnie

Charter schools are answer to need for achievement

The release of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program results indicates that Maryland schools are not ensuring that all students succeed.

Those results clearly point to the fact that Maryland children need a means of increasing their academic achievement.

One possibility is public charter schools. Public schools in every sense of the word, charter schools are open to everyone, operate with public funds and account to a public authority.

Public charter schools are designed with the sole purpose of increasing academic achievement. If they don't meet their academic goals, their charters can be revoked. Staff, free from the terms of bargaining agreements, are employees of the schools rather than school boards. Charter schools allow families the option of choosing an educational program that fits their child's needs.

The charter concept is spreading because it answers a need. The MSPAP results demonstrate that like other states, Maryland public education has that need.

Joni Gardner

Columbia

The writer is president of the Maryland Coalition for Educational Reform.

Some affection for U.S. by young Iraqi citizen

Did anyone notice the little girl, Ala, on the front page of the Dec. 21 issue? She was surveying bombing damage in Qorna, Iraq, with her father and dressed in a USA sweatsuit. Evidently, they don't all hate us.

William Kautz

Catonsville

Pub Date: 12/26/98

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