School leadership continues to drift
In the departure of city schools CEO Bonnie S. Copeland, there are many factors in play - including election-year politics, her leadership style and the city school system's continued resistance to real and effective change ("Schools CEO leaving," June 20).
But however one feels about Ms. Copeland, she in no small measure righted the public school system when it was millions of dollars in debt, continued to make curriculum improvements and raise test scores, especially at the elementary-school level, and initiated other reforms.
She did not always exhibit an up-front leadership style, and this was one of the causes of her undoing. However, she entered a viper's nest and can now leave with some sense of accomplishment.
Unfortunately, the fact remains that the senior management of the city schools continues to drift this way and that, with a school board that never seems to have the data it really needs to make informed decisions. This is not a good situation, to say the least.
Here's a suggestion - let's downsize the school system's senior management, sell the North Avenue headquarters building to a developer to convert into affordable housing, go to a partially elected school board and give principals more power over their budgets.
That may be wishful thinking. But new approaches that reflect community input must be encouraged at this critical time.
The writer is president of the Roland Park Elementary/Middle School PTA.
Dumping Macs hurts designers of future
I read with dismay that Baltimore County schools are dumping their Macs in favor of PCs ("Schools pulling the plug on Macs," June 19).
Kids forced to work on PCs will be at a major disadvantage when trying to find jobs in the creative professions.
As a graphics professional for more than 20 years, I've used Macs exclusively. And I know that there is a simple, obvious reason Macs have dominated the creative professions: They are the best tools for the job.
Don't believe me? Then try getting a graphic designer or an art director to switch to a PC.
The move is even more shortsighted now that the newer Intel-based Apple computers can run both Mac OS and Windows, which would let students learn two distinct operating systems on one machine.
Purchasing Macs would be the most efficient use of school funds, and would allow aspiring artists and designers to learn the dominant platform in the creative industry while also having the option to boot into Windows when necessary.
It's sad to see misguided attempts to save money undercutting the creative professionals of the future.
What about abuse of American troops?
In response to reports that two American soldiers who had been captured and taken prisoner by an al-Qaida-affiliated group were then tortured and beheaded, I ask: Where are the so-called rights groups that decry brutality toward prisoners? Where are the human rights groups that should be rising up and condemning this act of brutality ("Bodies of 2 abducted soldiers are found," June 21)?
Where are Sen. John McCain and his supporters, who passed the "al-Qaida prisoner bill of rights" law on how we are supposed to treat prisoners we capture during this war?
I surmise that these human rights groups are not saying anything because they view the United States as the enemy and the aggressor and the Islamic terrorists as a misunderstood, downtrodden people.
These groups, in my opinion, are invested in the defeat of the United States, just as they were during the Vietnam War.
John A. Malagrin
Getting to the city the bigger concern
In light of the traffic mess from the Baptist convention, perhaps the city's slogan needs to change from "Get In On It" to "How Do You Get To It?" ("Prayers and oaths," June 21).
Make officials ride buses they oversee
As a regular user of the Maryland Transit Administration's buses, I was not at all surprised about the recent study released by the Citizens Planning and Housing Association ("MTA buses fail on-time tests," June 14).
But neither the study nor The Sun's coverage of it fully capture what the transit system's abysmal record really means to riders on a personal level.
On a recent morning, I waited 30 minutes for a No. 10 express bus that simply didn't show up.
I had to wait an additional 15 minutes for a local bus, which took 55 minutes to get downtown.
It took me an hour and 40 minutes to make a trip of eight miles. I could have driven into downtown Washington faster.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident.
If Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan and all the MTA executives were required to use the system they oversee to get to work each day, I imagine we might see some pretty swift improvements.
Does GOP object to deregulation?
It is interesting to hear Republicans blame the General Assembly for the current electricity rate increase, citing the deregulation bill passed in 1999 ("Hearing supports Ehrlich's opinion," June 21).
Are they forgetting that Republicans often oppose every form of government regulation on business?
If the Republicans had their way, the industry never would have been regulated and we would have been paying higher rates for the last few years.
If rates must rise to "current market levels," so be it.
I, for one, thank the General Assembly for the savings over the last seven years.
It isn't gays who damage marriage
As the writer of "Support everyone who wants to get married" (June 17) noted, "The greatest threat to the institution of marriage is divorce."
Inasmuch as the divorce rate is close to 50 percent and most of those in those marriages are straight people, how can the threat to marriage be blamed on same-sex marriage?
The straight population is ruining the institution all by itself.
Don't turn Bias into tragic hero
While no individual should pay the ultimate price for one mistake, I would point out that many good and noble people whom readers of The Sun have never heard of have died of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other ailments.
And let us remember that Len Bias chose to snort cocaine ("Lesson not learned," June 18). A poor choice, for sure. Please refrain from lionizing him; after all, his contribution to society was that he was an entertainer, a great player of a sport - not one who saved lives, gave comfort to the ill or otherwise made society a better place to live.
God bless all those who have gone to their grave with little or no notoriety.
John D. Milkowski