Community schools can reach city youth
I was very pleased to read "Plan may help save some city schools" (Feb. 22).
As a lifelong resident of Baltimore, I have always understood how important local community schools are to our youth and to the community as a whole.
The community school concept will truly remake our schools into centers of our communities -- much as they were when I was growing up.
I applaud state Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick for supporting the proposal to change the way the state calculates school space use to reflect community school services such as vocational training and mentoring programs.
The more of our local schools we can keep open, the better the chances are that we will be able to reach out to Baltimore's youth and influence their lives in a positive, constructive environment.
Bernard C. Young
The writer is a member of the City Council.
Don't blame schools for parents' failings
Susan Reimer should be congratulated for her column "Action against school staff is misdirected" (Feb. 18).
Ms. Reimer rightly suggested that perhaps it is the parents of the failing students at Annapolis High who should re-apply for the job of parenting.
This makes more sense than Anne Arundel County School Superintendent Kevin Maxwell's plan, under which school personnel must re-apply for jobs they have been doing for many years.
There are parents who blame everyone else for the problems in schools.
They blame teachers, crowded classrooms, lack of money for schools, etc.
They expect teachers to teach responsibility, morality, manners, behavior and instill in the children the desire for education -- in addition to teaching their required courses.
But many of these tasks belong in the home.
And if more parents performed the job of parenting properly, many of the problems in our schools would disappear.
Miriam M. Fritz
Questions of identity central to history
Every few weeks I read yet another commentary bemoaning the failures of college instruction in history.
And the latest one, Kathleen Parker's column "Dissing America's Dad" (Opinion * Commentary, Feb. 19), screams injustice, on behalf of our first president, at the "silly sensitivity" to multiculturalism and feminism that has supplanted traditional history.
We've had too much Martha Washington, Ms. Parker claims, and not enough George.
Yet college courses in any field are meant to develop the mental capabilities needed for achievement in that discipline.
And, whatever Ms. Parker's personal feelings on the matter may be, questions of identity, ethnicity and gender remain at the forefront of historical research.
Commentators regularly panic over the supposed failings of science education in our schools and its potential to upset American dominance of research.
Meanwhile Ms. Parker advocates (without a hint of irony) asking college students to abandon the cutting edge of historical research in favor of memorization by rote.
But simply knowing that "the Battle of Yorktown ended the American Revolution," which Ms. Parker cites as a criterion for a solid civic education, seems an overpriced tidbit for the small fortune families spend on a college education.
Regardless, the damage is apparently minimal: If Ms. Parker had read more carefully the survey she cites with such alarm, she might have noticed that those hapless college students did pass on a few topics -- including the role of George Washington.
The writer is a graduate student in history at Emory University.
Make ex-felons wait to regain their vote
Just when I thought I'd heard it all from Maryland lawmakers, more nitwittery shows up: The idea that a felon could get out of jail and vote the same day ("Voting rights for felons pushed," Feb. 20).
Why not simply have a precinct in the jail with voting booths, hot cocoa and cookies?
Ex-offender Damond Ramsey thinks that, without a vote, "he does not feel like a full citizen."
That's too bad. He should have thought of that when he was committing his crimes.
Convicted felons should have to wait at least three years after completing their term, and have no arrests in that time, to regain the same right I have to vote.
Cutting prison term sends wrong signal
It was with disbelief that I read "Chapman gets less jail time" (Feb. 17).
Nathan A Chapman Jr., a former chairman of the University System of Maryland's Board of Regents, was indicted in June 2003 and accused of defrauding the state pension system and looting his own companies.
In November 2004 he was found guilty and sentenced to serve 7 1/2 years in prison.
On Feb. 15, Mr. Chapman played on the heartstrings of Judge William D. Quarles and convinced him that he was a changed man who had repented his wrongdoings, and was now attending Howard University and the Spirit of the Faith Christian Center.
This resulted in Judge Quarles reducing Mr. Chapman's jail sentence by approximately 2 1/2 years.
Can one imagine what kind of a garbled message this sends to the tens of thousands of Maryland college and university students for whom Mr. Chapman was supposedly setting an example as regents chairman?
In my estimation, the whole Chapman fiasco is a disgrace to our system of justice.
Quinton D. Thompson
'Green buildings' save energy, money
Congratulations to state Comptroller Peter Franchot for leading the effort to construct energy-efficient buildings in Maryland, which will save us tax dollars in the long run ("'Green buildings' gaining support," Feb. 15).
Green buildings require less energy and are therefore beneficial to the environment and to the Chesapeake Bay.
Some politicians feel that they need more time to study the value of green buildings.
But delays will only increase future costs.
Mr. Franchot has the foresight required to help Maryland become a cleaner state. I hope everyone will support him.
William G. Huppert
The writer is a former member of the Baltimore County Commission on Environmental Quality.
Liberals are focused on a phony threat
As usual, the liberals have it backward. They are hysterical about global warming but oblivious to terrorism.
Global warming is, at this point, an unproven theory. Terrorism is real, and numerous attempted attacks have been foiled since 9/11.
Al-Qaida has been significantly weakened, but that group, and others like it, is still out there and still trying to kill Americans.
Therefore, fighting them in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, if need be, is a must.
J. Allen Frye