The Baltimore Sun

Double standards hurt black youths

The column "Two standards on slurs" (Opinion * Commentary, May 18) really struck a nerve with me as an African-American teacher.

It reminded me of my outraged reaction to comments by white teachers at a workshop for teachers I attended.

Those teachers explained that they took no action on the misbehavior of black kids, or their use of profanity, because such misbehavior was cultural.

I explained to them that although many whites seem to think all black people behave the way their students behaved, that was hardly the case.

I also explained that there are different segments of the black community with different expectations and that most black parents and teachers have much higher expectations for their kids and for kids' behavior in general.

But this column made clear to me why most white teachers still don't set high expectations for black kids, don't correct their misbehavior or profanity, allow these kids to gossip and fool around instead of focusing on class work, permit students to use cell phones and listen to MP3 players, etc.

It makes clear why far too many black kids continue to believe such misbehavior is socially acceptable and why poor test scores and a lack of academic excellence remain acceptable.

If students are not taught what acceptable language and behavior are at home or at school, these young people will never learn what behavior is socially acceptable.

They will be left behind academically and economically.

And everyone who lives in this city is reminded of the consequences of that each time we read or watch the news.

Linda K. Brown


The writer is a teacher in the Baltimore County public schools.

Profane slurs always just unacceptable

As a retired teacher, I was appalled by Kathleen Parker's column about a lawsuit against the Charleston County, S.C., School District ("Two standards on slurs," Opinion * Commentary, May 18).

A teacher in a racially hostile environment was told that "racially charged profanity was part of the students' culture" and that if she could not deal with it, "she was in the wrong school."

I find this comment to be racism at its most blatant.

All students should be held to the same standards of decency.

For the administration to say that profanity is a part of black students' culture, and thereby excuse its use, is reprehensible.

I am an African-American, and vulgarity is not a part of my "culture."

There are no two standards on racial slurs. They are wrong whoever uses them. They hurt whoever is the brunt of such unkindness.

Elizabeth Kandrac, the white teacher involved in this dispute, should pursue her case so that the students will learn that using this kind of language is unacceptable behavior that has consequences.

Nancy D. Barrick


Ruling disregards rights of the child

The Sun's article "Ruling alters idea of mother" (May 17) counts as many as five parties involved in some surrogate motherhood transactions: the egg and sperm donors (the biological parents), the nonbiological parents and the surrogate mother.

There's a sixth person involved, of course: the child.

The Maryland Court of Appeals' decision also forgets the child.

Dissenting from the ruling that is the focus of this article, Judge Dale R. Cathell worries that arrangements found constitutional by the court could lead to surrogacy contracts involving individuals who create a child and then opt out of responsibility for that child.

The prospect is not futuristic - egg and sperm donors currently can sign waivers relieving them of responsibility for their son or daughter.

What are we doing to the family?

Nancy E. Paltell


The writer is associate director of the Maryland Catholic Conference.

Building reefs boosts bay, oysters

Leave it to the Maryland watermen to find something negative in the sort of reef-building project that has proved so very successful in every state that has tried one ("Building 'reefs,'" May 21).

It bothers me that Maryland Watermen's Association President Larry Simns would suggest that such reefs are junk that should be broken into smaller pieces so they can easily be removed when we find out the projects were a mistake.

I have donated money and time to the reef-building projects, as have thousands of other Marylanders who will never fish from one of these reefs. We do so to help the bay and allow some oysters to die a natural death there.

If only the Oyster Recovery Partnership would do the same kind of thing and stop the harvest of an endangered species, all the residents of Maryland would reap the benefits.

Let's keep the reefs coming. One day, the watermen will thank us for our efforts to restore the bay and enable them to have some oysters to harvest.

Steve Ariosa


The writer is a past president of the Northern Bay chapter of the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association.

Immigrants strain natural resources

Many people are expressing alarm about the effects our massive immigration rates have on a healthy environment. In his column "Deal on immigration threatens environment" (Opinion * Commentary, May 22), Glenn Hurowitz described some of the consequences we can expect.

Even Mr. Hurowitz, however, overlooked the limits to our natural resources.

Every year, huge areas of the United States suffer damaging droughts and related water shortages.

Our country long ago exhausted most of its oil resources. And there are limits to our forests, our minerals, our topsoil, our fisheries - everything that comes from the land and water.

If nothing is done about the effect of massive immigration on our population, a badly degraded and depleted land will be the lot of future generations.

Carleton W. Brown


Put new arena near public transit lines

Dan Rodricks is wrong - not about the city needing a new arena, but in suggesting that the city make the same kind of mistake the Washington Redskins made by putting a new arena out of the center city and near the interstate ("Put arena by interstate and bring on the games," May 17).

Mr. Rodricks makes the old error of thinking everyone drives to the arena. Well, I was here when the city's arena opened, and I have never driven to the arena, or to the ballpark, or to any other such mob scene.

My car remains in the garage, and I take the light rail or subway to get to games and events.

Anyone who has been to the ballpark and seen how light rail swallows crowds after a game knows that I am not alone in this. And the light rail platforms are empty long before the parking lots are even half-empty.

I really don't care where they build the new arena. But if I can't get there on the light rail or subway, I'm not going.

Bob Reuter


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