Transfer policy hurts teachers, erodes schools

There is longer any doubt in my mind why the Baltimore County public school system is losing good teachers after reading about how teachers are not allowed to transfer to another school unless there is a "highly qualified replacement" ("Limiting teacher moves decried," Nov. 28).

Basically, if you are a highly qualified teacher in a low-scoring school, your reward for teaching in that school is that you are a prisoner.

Instead of rotating teachers who desire to leave a particular school, the system winds up losing them altogether. They opt for private school or work in unrelated industries.

So in the end, the county loses on all counts and education in general suffers.

I know of two talented young teachers who taught for several years in low-performing schools and tried to get transfers because of dangerous working conditions.

Since suitable replacements couldn't be found, they were denied the transfers. So now these bright young adults work in private industry.

That certainly will not help meet the goals of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Barbara Blumberg


Order breaks down in the city's schools

A growing number of alarming incidents in the city's schools indicate a breakdown of control on the part of those entrusted with maintaining order as well as an environment conducive to learning for students who are expected to become responsible members of the community ("Two city schools close early after fires are set," Dec. 1).

To the ongoing violence sweeping our schools can now be added the crime of arson. In the first two months of the current school year, 70 suspicious fires, arsons and bomb threats have been reported.

On Nov. 30, two fires were set in a storage room at Dr. Samuel L. Banks High School on Northern Parkway. A school employee was hospitalized for smoke inhalation, and the school had to close early.

Although the wave of crimes and arsons in the schools should not be blamed directly on Mayor Martin O'Malley, it is, nevertheless, occurring on his watch.

If he has aspirations to one day move into the governor's chair, it is incumbent on him to turn things around now.

Albert E. Denny


The ends of torture don't justify means

In response to the International Committee of the Red Cross report criticizing U.S. treatment of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Linda Chavez suggests the United States redefine torture because our primary enemies are terrorists whose aim is to "kill innocent civilians in the most horrific manner possible" ("With these enemies, it might be time to redraw the line on torture," Opinion

Commentary, Dec. 2).

Ms. Chavez needs a lesson in ethics. What the prisoner has done or might know is not relevant to the rules regarding his or her humane treatment.

And the answer to her question -- "Would we be justified in using whatever means necessary" if lives could be saved? -- is "no."

The ends do not justify the means. This is what makes a civilized society different from terrorists.

George Hoke


Environmental woes afflict rural India, too

A huge number of people live in villages in the Indian countryside. While the countryside remains cleaner than the city in most ways, the future for both the countryside and cities looks bleak if companies such as Coca-Cola have their way ("Future on display in 'Maximum City,'" Nov. 28).

For the past several years, people in the towns of Plachimada and Mehdiganj have faced severe water shortages. They are unable to irrigate crops or provide enough safe water for their families.

The severe shortages are not the result of drought, but of companies moving to these communities to exploit the underground water supply.

Hundreds of hand-pumped wells have gone dry in the area in the past few years, while Coca-Cola uses much of the water to make soft drinks.

While the problem of mega-cities is great, let's not forget about the poor, rural areas, and that the American public commands a huge influence over the actions of the U.S.-based corporations that operate in these areas.

We must continue to monitor these actions and hold corporations accountable.

Paul Schramski


Ehrlich is responding to a pattern of abuse

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. recently violated one of the cardinal rules of press relations: Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel. He stopped cooperating with two Sun journalists, apparently in response to The Sun's consistently jaundiced coverage of him ("Meet with The Sun, Schaefer advises governor," Dec. 2).

Politicians who believe they are getting a raw deal from the media have no other recourse. The print media have no oversight. There is no regulatory agency to whom one can take a grievance. Few newspapers have real ombudsmen.

Letters to the editor -- the place for readers' freedom of speech -- are heavily regulated. Reporters and editors don't take criticism well, and the way they view themselves is so different from the way their readers see them that any real dialogue requires an interpreter.

Mr. Ehrlich did what most politicians and press secretaries only think about doing, after a history of shabby treatment, which in this case stretches back three years and is well-documented.

This is not about one isolated incident.

The real issue is where The Sun draws that thin line between exercising freedom of the press and abusing it.

Mike Johnson


Hunters rarely go on killing sprees

I feel compelled to respond to the letter from an eighth-grader in response to the Wisconsin hunting tragedy ("Violence of hunting prompts a tragedy," letters, Nov. 29).

The writer believes "it is a fact that those who kill animals are more likely to kill people." I hope he doesn't believe that everyone who processes meat for a living is just one step away from causing the next murder spree.

The writer suggests that such an outcome is bound to happen when we "legally arm these people and tell them to go out and slaughter animals for their own entertainment."

But no one tells a hunter to go out and slaughter animals for fun. Hunters are, mostly, respectable people who collect their own meat instead of paying others to slaughter and process it for them.

Hunters are not murderers. Hunters are people who love the outdoors and enjoy the camaraderie of the outdoor experience or the solitude of being in the woods alone.

And it is important for anti-hunting enthusiasts to realize that hunters pay self-imposed taxes on hunting and fishing equipment to raise millions of dollars to save and enhance wildlife habitats.

Tim Wist


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